Charles Travaglio

New Times: A Paradox Wrapped in a Mystery and Tied With a Boring, Banal Riddle

In many ways New Times is a strange paradox. While your movie and restaurant critics are often quite caustic and do not mince words, the reporters who cover local politics seem to tone down their language for public consumption. Recent editions of New Times prove my point. Witness a recent piece by restaurant critic Jen Karetnick, "Smells Like Teen Spiritless" (July 23), referring to a new Italian restaurant, Sfizi. Karetnick candidly remarks, "Right now the only craving customers might harbor is one to escape." A rather similar sarcastic wit may be detected in recent movie reviews such as Peter Rainer's review of The Mask of Zorro, "The Z Stands for Zzzzzz" (July 16).

Yet the recent article "Don't Call Me a Lobbyist" was, in my opinion, quite kind to Chris Korge, Miami's top political lobbyist. Here is a man who has done much to wreck local politics, subvert democracy, and marginalize voters. One would think Mr. DeFede would try to convey outrage. Instead he writes with watered-down neutral language that fails to communicate the urgency of our situation here in Miami, where rich and powerful individuals such as Korge run roughshod over poor minority workers and immigrants.

What we need in this community are writers and editors who can convey outrage, not just about over-cooked lasagna, about issues that matter. Above all, this information shouldn't cause the reader to just shrug and walk away. It should instill him or her with a renewed sense of urgency.

Nikolas Kozloff

So How Do You Say, "Buzz Off" in Urdu, Wise Guy?
I read and enjoyed John Lantigua's July 23 article, "Captain Courageous," about Capt. Dave Miller's retirement from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Miami.

It is clear that New Times favors strong bureaucracy and big business over justice. Mr. Lantigua wrote the article brilliantly, but he used half-truths that make it practically impossible for the reader to understand the sensitive issues involved. If Mr. Lantigua wanted to praise Capt. Miller's brilliant career trajectory, his goal was achieved.

But even after reading the article, we still do not know whether the so-called Caribbean Cargo Safety Code is a violation of the constitutional rights of small American businesses and Haitian Americans. Nor do we know whether proper procedures were used to enforce this law. We need Congress to publicly declare this measure unconstitutional.

Obviously and unwittingly, Mr. Lantigua made two mistakes. First, the Pov Yola was seized because its ownership was disputed, not because of drugs. Second, Mr. Lantigua underestimated me. Though I don't have a glamorous office with central air conditioning and all the other amenities, I am a real man. I speak three languages. And I was a soldier in the war against communism. Mr. Lantigua didn't understand the plight of Haitian boat owners who work hard and follow the law.

Remember that God is the only one who can judge a person's behavior.
Eduardo Tamargo

Miller's Last Stand
I really enjoyed the creativity of John Lantigua's article on retiring Coast Guard Capt. Dave Miller. It portrayed Capt. Miller and his sidekicks as the heroic cavalry. It made Haitians and small river businesses appear like nasty Indians.

The only problem with this is that the U.S. Cavalry, especially the troops headed by Gen. George Custer, oppressed and nearly wiped out many Native American tribes. They drove the Indians from their homes and livelihoods.

The Coast Guard did the same in Miami. I see nothing glorious in the way Captain Miller handled his job as a public servant. I have been an agent for many Haitian boat owners who export rice, flour, cornmeal, beans, sugar, and other food products. Most have been prohibited from docking on the river. All of these small cargo-vessel owners dislike Miller's treatment of the Haitians. Haiti is now in a severe crisis caused at least partly by Miller's ban on many well-equipped vessels.

Captain Miller (one of the most ignorant people I have ever known) blames the Haitian community for pollution, poor vessel safety, drugs, and immigration problems. I just hope that some Haitian Americans sue him for his slanderous and racist remarks.

Mr. Lantigua's article encourages ignorance, and it stereotypes the Haitian community as unclean -- much like Adolf Hitler and the Nazis stereotyped Jews. This is America, where it is illegal to persecute people on the basis of race, sex, religious belief, or nationality. Maybe some people have forgotten what this country is all about.

Also, Mr. Lantigua misrepresented my father, Jose Machado. Lantigua said my dad "claims he is a former seaman." Actually he is a veteran ships captain.

Jose L. Machado

Try Putting That on a Job Application
In response to Tristram Korten's article "The Don" (June 25), letter writer Ricardo Ferreira left out one important qualification for Donald Warshaw's having been appointed Miami City Manager -- he's not gay! It's a well-known fact that gays and lesbians are the root cause of all the troubles in the world (witness the fires around Disney World). Mr. Ferreira should be thankful that, despite all Mr. Warshaw's alleged shortcomings, at least he is straight.

And for all the gays and lesbians in Florida, only you can prevent forest fires!

Frank Troha
Coconut Grove

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