Letters

First it was the parking situation, but I kept going because I had fun. But now with crime and a bad element all over the place, my friends and I stay away from the neighborhood, especially Washington Avenue. What will it take to return things to normal?

At least New Times isn't scared to report the problems and shed light on what goes on behind the scenes. Please continue the stories about clubland. With more coverage of the problem, maybe someone will listen.

Margot Suarez
Miami Shores

South Beach: Home of the Innocent Homeless
In a recently released report about disorder on the streets of South Beach, consultant Rob Teir alleges the city and club owners have done nothing to control the mayhem. The study by the Center for Livable Cities encourages "the city to crack down on the people, including the homeless, who clog sidewalks and streets," according to Mr. Lantigua.

Mr. Teir rebuts advocates' criticisms, saying the homeless "should not be encouraged to remain on the street, feeding their addictions.... I don't think it's harsh to ask that someone not lie on the sidewalk."

Mr. Teir's organization is based in Washington, D.C. One stroll down Washington Avenue did not acquaint him with the real situation. As any local person would attest, the homeless are not guilty of sidewalk clogging.

Washington Avenue is filled with drunks holding cellular telephones and driving 1998 convertibles. In their inebriated stupor and cocaine haze, they meet pathetic nightclub patrons who resemble themselves. The homeless inhabit the locked entrances of S&M stores and vintage clothing stores, their soiled rags and covers blending in with the pavement.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the city, not club owners, to adequately enforce the laws and to make it safer to stroll down one of the city's most profitable streets. Inside, club owners must shoulder the risk.

Mr. Teir's report has more to do with creating beautiful scenes than with accommodating the less privileged. And if the city follows through and gets rid of South Beach's homeless, the public will no longer be forced to face crude reality. The traffic and disorder problems will remain, however, because the homeless do not create them.

Frances I. Suazo
Sunny Isles Beach

South Beach: Tomorrow's Kid-Free Zone
I couldn't agree more with the views stated by Rob Teir. The fact that he drew such apt conclusions about South Beach in four days should tell us something about the city. Why shouldn't we be able to clear youngsters and the homeless from the streets after a certain hour? Neither group contributes to the economy.

Miami Beach was once a glorious place. These days would any Miami native send an out-of-town guest there? No! Why? Because we know what is out there -- and it is not the police. Teir recommends increasing police presence and says club owners are whining about that. I am disappointed to see that club owners care so little about potential customers. Teir also advocates raising the legal age for nightclub admission to 21. Why not? Isn't there a curfew in effect? What are children doing on the streets after 1:00 a.m.?

The last time I went to South Beach I was more irritated than satisfied with the police. They were not looking out for public safety. In fact the only officers I saw belonged to the gang task force. They were pulling over minors to search their vehicles. We could probably return the streets to normal if such minors were not permitted on South Beach. The result would be more visitors spending more money. Maybe this would stop the club owners from whining.

Claire A. Stefan
Miami

Au Revoir Kmart, Bienvenida Salsa
I am writing in response to Judy Cantor's article "The Politics of Music" (September 17). I catch up on the goings-on in Miami by Internet. It seems people there are finally able to enjoy and participate in musical festivities a la cubana simply for the sake of music.

In Paris we get it all the time -- for both the old and young. People from all walks of life take part in the fiesta del sabado. There is always a group from Santiago, Havana, or Matanzas to make us dance. The Cuban groups have become like an oeuvre d'art and very à la mode.

The beauty of all this music is that it has yet to be Americanized: bottled, marketed, packaged, and delivered to the Kmart nearest you. Perhaps that is why these musicians have stayed so pure to the cause.

Cheryl Vasil
Paris, France

Residents Cook Up Good Stuff
I was dumbfounded by the first paragraph of Jen Karetnick's review of Johnson and Wales University's Islands Cafe ("Restaurant 101," August 27).

Ms. Karetnick addressed apprenticeships at places such as Johnson and Wales, which trains students to be chefs. To compare this with a medical residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital is grossly unfair and prejudicial.

True, residents don't have years of experience, but how else can they learn? Not to patronize hospitals that employ residents is unjust and arbitrary. Residents have the advantage of high-level instruction and supervision. They are on the cusp of every new medical development and research finding. They do not offer second-rate service but are essentially skilled, dedicated, and compassionate. They are also often tired.

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