Letters

Our Bodies, Our Shopping Malls
As Jacob Bernstein's article "The Final Harvest" (May 14) detailed, developers, speculators, environmentalists, politicos, residents, and farmers all have an interest in the last major agricultural area of Dade County. But one major issue was not covered by even as much as a single sentence: the public's health and safety.

With more and more reports about improper growing methods and contamination involving imported fruits and vegetables, why don't we realize the importance of our locally grown crops, which adhere to proper growing practices and handling? What comes first -- strip malls, housing subdivisions, gas stations, and high-rises or public health and safety?

If we do away with more and more Dade County farms and greenery, are we not causing future problems of inestimable proportions? Yes, property owners have their rights, but how far can developers' wishes be allowed to proceed? We must have a meeting of the minds for all involved.

Ronald C. Rickey
Miami Beach

Erratum
Owing to a reporting error, "The Final Harvest" incorrectly stated that Homestead banker Bill Losner settled a legal dispute with a South Dade community activist by paying an undisclosed sum of money to the activist. The legal dispute was settled out of court but neither side would discuss the terms. New Times regrets the error.

Best Idiotic Prescription for Disaster
Despite having been chosen Best Place to Jet Ski, Blue Lagoon -- along State Road 836 near the airport -- is not a cool place to Jet Ski ("Best of Miami," May 14). The lagoon is a manatee zone. Last year a baby manatee was killed there by a Jet Ski. How about doing better research and finding places for Jet Skiers where they won't have a chance of ruthlessly running over one of the most gentle and endangered animals in Florida?

And in regard to Best Kids' Thrill, feeding manatees is against the law. If you're caught, you can be subject to a big fine. Most people throw pizza and junk food at the creatures, which endangers their health. Feeding manatees also causes them to become attached to and dependent on people, which is not a good thing if we are trying to save a species.

New Times reaches a lot of people. How about supporting the preservation and survival of the precious manatee instead of hastening their demise?

Lynda Green
Miami

Editor's note: We sheepishly acknowledge that Ms. Green is correct regarding the feeding of manatees, so we have removed the Best Kids' Thrill item from our Website, where the "Best of Miami" remains posted for a full year. Jet Skiing at Blue Lagoon is not illegal, although it seems that posted speed limits are frequently ignored. Next year we'll find another recommended locale for those who like it fast and loud.

He May Be a Bully, but He's Our Bully
Conspicuously missing in Ted B. Kissell's article about Miami-Dade Community College president Eduardo Padron was any mention of the reaction of the student body to Dr. Padrón's "students first" restructuring program ("Schoolyard Bully," May 7).

The primary purpose of a community college should be to satisfy the educational needs of its student body, not to provide a sheltered haven for academic egos. If Dr. Padrón's reforms of MDCC have succeeded in securing that institution's ability to continue to provide a first-rate education to its student body, then he should be commended for his efforts, regardless of the bruised feelings of a few disgruntled faculty politicians.

In a community accustomed to mediocrity and tepid political leadership, bold and decisive action in pursuit of outright excellence should be congratulated, not questioned.

Victor M. Diaz, Jr.
Miami Beach

A Bully and a Half!
I thought Ted B. Kissell's story on Eduardo Padrón was outstanding. Calling Dr. Padron a bully was a huge understatement. I know this from firsthand experience.

I am the former sports information director for Miami-Dade Community College's Wolfson Campus. I left because of Dr. Padron. I saw one of the most successful intercollegiate sports programs in the nation get slashed faster than the Florida Marlins. Many individuals who had been there for more than ten or twenty years lost everything. The coaches at Miami-Dade dedicated their lives to the program and their athletes. Many of these individuals had families to support and had dedicated years to MDCC.

Present and future athletes lost many scholarship opportunities. Many of these kids need a junior college to be their stepping stone to a Division I university because either their grades aren't good enough in high school, they suffer a language barrier, or they just can't afford education at the university level.

In any case, Dr. Padron had no consideration for student-athletes, coaches, or the future of South Florida sports. I am glad that someone exposed him for the dictator he really is and the administrator he is not.

Alfred Caballero
Miami

WLRN: Stay Weird, Please
Having lived in Miami only ten years now, I enjoyed reading Kirk Nielsen's article about the history and the development of WLRN-FM ("Static," May 7). As a former radio program director, however, I disagree with his criticism of general manager Gustavo Sagastume's approach to programming.

If a commercial station wants to be number one in its market, it spends money on research, contests, and advertising to be the most popular radio signal in town. But that is not the purpose of the public FM band (87-92 MHz), which can better serve the public with alternatives to other local programming.

When a tiny, 900-watt college FM station in Norfolk, Virginia, switched from its educational/reading programs to a music-only format (jazz, rhythm and blues, big band) in the Eighties, the change led to the demise of three AM radio powerhouses: WRAP (rap), WTJZ (jazz), and WCPK (big band). But now WNSB-FM must cater to the jazz-only listener for that market, as a public FM station.

Also, no one can compare Virginia, Ohio, or even Detroit or Atlanta (as Mr. Nielsen tried) with the Miami market, which has a uniquely international population. Alternative programs may not work for Hot 105 or KISS-FM, but they are needed on public radio. WLRN, 100,000 watts strong, should use its power to attract more of the Spanish-speaking audience with music and variety shows such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Caribbean, Brazilian, Argentine, as well as British and American folk -- without the hate-talk. And local print media should list the daily music schedule, as they do for television.

Another suggestion would be to record the monthly school board meetings for rebroadcast that evening, so working parents can hear about their children's school board.

WLRN's moneymaking efforts could also go further and include a radio auction of goods, as well as fundraising in three languages. I agree with Steve Malagodi that "music brings people together"; Miami has many different cultures of music to offer. But while commercial radio picks one music format, public radio does not have to work that way. WLRN should not have to abandon its national news and talk shows in search of a younger audience. But adding a variety of more music geared to Miami's diverse market could bring the "public" back to public radio.

Charles Meads, Jr.
Miami Beach

WLRN: Quit Begging Already
I first began supporting WLRN in 1976 or so, in appreciation of its weekly broadcasts of American folk festivals. Since then they have initiated pledge drives, first once per year, now up to twice. Although I still like some of their folk programming, I have recently decided not to join during the pledge interruptions.

Both WLRN radio and television have recently become aggressive in their on-air self-promotion. This turns me off. When I gave up watching Channel 17, it was superimposing its logo on the screen six times per hour, detracting from the quality of its shows.

Those people interviewed in Kirk Nielsen's article were singing the praises of WDNA-FM. I also used to like and subscribe to WDNA when they had Evan Cherin's "Notes from the Underground," other rock-oriented specialty shows, and the Henry Logan poetry program. If it's true that there is a coming Cubanization of WLRN, then perhaps its casualties might get together with the castoffs from WDNA and start a decent station that would be freely funded and uninterrupted by pledges or commercials.

Two final points: I think that to rid WLRN of the school board would be tantamount to children kicking their parents out of the house.

Also, the original idea for public broadcasting was to have an alternative venue, a nexus for all sorts of specialty programs that were not in the mainstream. To submerge that idea in search of ratings defeats the purpose.

I hope that in the new millennium there will be some variety broadcast stations left, places for uninterrupted music, poetry, radio comedy, drama, art, dance -- whatever people desire to hear or see.

David Melvin Thornburgh
Miami Beach

WLRN: A God Among the Heathens
Why should WLRN lower its standards to appease an audience that's captious, solipsistic, and sybaritic? In short, highly critical no matter what, into itself, and thinkless. You know the old saying: "Don't throw your pearls before swine." As a whole, Miami's population does not exactly consist of civic-minded erudites. We are much more into glamour, fine cars, and trendy movies than theater or opera.

When compared to New Yorkers, Chicagoans, or Bostonians, Miamians are like hillbillies who wear expensive overalls and drive $100,000 tractors, abounding in materialistic prosperity but misinformed, uncultivated, indifferent, and unresponsive to culture and to the arts. There are a lot more airheads than philanthropists living in Miami.

Gee, I wonder what would happen if more Cubans learned to speak Creole and actually took an interest in Haitian culture and language? We'd find that there are many things within diverse cultures that overlap, including sufferance and discrimination, only a lot worse for Haitians -- you can't hide color. And what if Miamians took a greater interest in their school board? Do you think people might unite and improve our city? But no, this is not what we want. We just want more hedonistic pleasure.

The station is trying to send a message that we, in our aloofness, selfishness, and stolidness, are failing to grasp. "Language splits people apart"? I disagree with Steve Malagodi. Language is everything. The issue as I see it is not whether WLRN should change its format, but whether WLRN's aims are too noble and reputable for Miami.

Manny Losada
Miami

Yeah, but Do They Have Ropa Vieja There?
Jen Karetnick's review of La Dorada restaurant caused me to lose my appetite ("Broken English," May 7). Does Jen realize that there are a lot of Spanish-speaking people in Dade County? Does that really have anything to do with the review of this restaurant? I have a suggestion for Jen: Move to Iowa. Ellos no hablan espanol.

Ira Silver
Miami

If Not Spanish, Maybe Creole
Joan Didion once observed that one of the differences between Miami and Los Angeles is that in L.A. most of a restaurant's serving staff are Spanish-speakers, in contrast to the English-speaking customers; in Miami the majority of patrons speak Spanish. Face it Jen, Miami eateries don't need an English-speaking client base to be successful; there are more than enough Spanish-speaking customers here. I recommend that she learn Spanish. Then she could complain in a beautiful second language.

Jorge M. Zaragozi
Miami

Piling on
New Times readers might think that Jen Karetnick is, as she hints, "culturally incorrect," but I ask those readers to take a closer look. She seems to have taken to the old adage "When in Rome ..." She is doing exactly what the Romans did. It's called imperialism.

Seriously, the joke is on Jen, since she is not willing to integrate with the community. Here being Hispanic is beginning to mean that you are in the majority. When that day comes, and Jen is replaced because she refused to learn Spanish, will her replacement express this same brand of perniciousness?

David Jonathan Foster
Coral Gables

A Little Relief from the Tough Stuff
I've been meaning to write New Times regarding the Cafe column written by Jen Karetnick. I look forward to reading her restaurant reviews every week. Not only are they witty, they're insightful and very informative. I've enjoyed her column immensely for quite some time now. It is the reason I pick up New Times. Well, the movie reviews are fun too.

Ernie Joya
Miami Beach

C'mon Guy, the Wicked Wanda of the West He/She Ain't
This creature ("Wanda Woman," April 30), the Bitch of SoBe, is of another era. The day of the bitchy drag queen is over. People come to SoBe to enjoy themselves. The community is a rich, diverse, fine blend of people from every racial, social, economic, and sexual orientation. It all adds up to a colorful and pleasant environment, a true example of the melting pot that Miami and New York would like to be.

How disgusting that a thing like this Wanda bitch would come along and try to ruin it. How stupid can this thing be. He has been thrown out of many clubs. Catch a clue: You're not wanted! The good news is the degenerate wants to move to New York, although I would recommend a small Pacific island with a population of one. I originally come from New York and I know. The one club that will welcome Wanda is on Riker's Island.

Jeffrey Fitchelberg
Miami Beach

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