Letters

The Avenue Don't Get No Respect
I would like to thank John Lantigua for his objective coverage of the Washington Avenue nightclub problem ("Conflict in Clubland," May 21). I think the article presented a fair picture of the issues that confront us here, and even touched on their causes -- the decades-long neglect of this street by our city government. As a member of the mayor's Washington Avenue Task Force, I will be submitting the article for inclusion with the documents to be attached to our final report.

Yes, we do have a few bad nightclubs, and the city does need to find a way to get rid of them. But to punish all clubs and bars for the sins of a few is clearly unfair. And for the city to dredge up an outmoded 1940s definition of nightclubs as "restaurants with dance floors" and to suddenly require that all clubs "put in kitchens within 30 days or close your doors" has outraged everyone.

The problems of Washington Avenue are not limited to clubs and bars, nor do they necessarily stem from the clubs and bars. The biggest problem we have is with the youth gangs that cruise and hang out along Washington on weekends, many of them [too young] to get into clubs and bars. This problem started when they were driven off Ocean Drive. Soon Washington became their new turf.

Despite our protests and appeals to city officials (going all the way back to 1993), nothing was done by the city to stop this from happening. It got so bad that earlier this year we were forced to appeal for help to then-County Commissioner Bruce Kaplan. Thanks to him, within a matter of weeks we had 60 Metro officers working Washington Avenue on the weekends.

Yes, the extra policing is definitely helping, but our question to the city is, Why did you let this get out of hand in the first place? Why have we had to lose so many good restaurants and clubs because of your failure to properly maintain and police the street? Why do you keep the street so dirty and rundown? Don't you know that the slum conditions you impose upon us encourage and play host to bad elements, and discourage good business? We get no answers to these questions.

The vast majority of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs on South Beach are good and properly run businesses that form a vital part of our economy and our attractiveness to visitors. These businesses don't create problems. They create excitement for visitors and jobs for residents, not to mention a major portion of the city's revenue from resort taxes and sales taxes. Frankly, they deserve better treatment from the city than they have been getting, and so does Washington Avenue.

David Kelsey, president
South Beach Hotel and Restaurant Association
Miami Beach

Best Invitation to a Bloody Nose
The "Best of Miami" (May 14) mentioned Best Ancient Chinese Secret and Best Boxing for Nonboxers. Why do we still try to make ancient secrets out of nothing? Tai chi is a wonderful exercise for health, but it is not effective as a fighting art. To be a fighter, a person must practice fighting skills. It's hard enough to defend against one person. How are you going to deal with more than one? You need experience as a street fighter.

As for cardio-boxing, if you want to learn real boxing you must learn in a realistic setting, with the proper equipment and personnel. I welcome these people to go a few rounds at my tiger den to prove my point.

Jerry Lee
Miami

Best Cute New Winner
How could Best Name for a Hair Cuttery not be Curl Up-N-Dye, located in South Miami?

Zach Ralston
Miami

Best Idea That'll Never Fly
The "Best of Miami" was interesting and most informative. I am not much on promotions, but I suggest that a small pamphlet containing listings from the issue -- just the name, phone, and address of the winners -- would be useful to individuals and could probably even be sold. People could keep a copy in their car or at home or the office.

Your Best Alternative to I-95 was particularly interesting to me. It is a route I often take, though it is recognized by few people.

Burnett Roth
Miami Beach

Best Gracias
Thanks for naming Libreria & Distribuidora Universal the Best Spanish-language Bookstore. We work so hard. New Times's recognition means a lot. We have very proudly displayed the beautiful award on our wall.

Marta Salvat
Miami

Best Idealized Future
I wish to express my deepest thanks and appreciation for my inclusion in the "Best of Miami" Personal Best for 1998. It is predictable that my stand in relation to Cuba would be considered controversial in Cuban Miami. I am convinced, however, that the road to normalization leads to a hopeful future for the relationship between the United States and Cuba, and for all of us in South Florida.

My stand -- and the goal of my program -- is clearly also for a more open Miami, an end to the corruption, and a search for a healthy unity of South Florida's political and ethnic diversity. All of which would only benefit our community. With New Times's recognition, you have helped us on that path.

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