Letters

Michael Band: When the Clouds Clear, He'll Shine Brightly
In his article "Prosecution Complex" (November 26), Tristram Korten referred to former Assistant State Attorney Michael Band as a "ruined prosecutor." He is anything but.

I have had the privilege of knowing Michael Band for nearly ten years, since my days at the U.S. Attorney's Office. It would be difficult to find a more dedicated, honest, selfless, and respected public servant. That he has faced these ridiculously transparent allegations with such grace (while still conducting a textbook prosecution of Jimmy Ryce's killer) is a testament to the quality of his character.

This entire community owes a debt of gratitude to Michael Band for the important work he has done during the past twenty years. When this storm passes what will be remembered is that Michael left not on a low note but in triumph with the conviction of the killer of a six-year-old child.

David M. DeMaio
Miami

Michael Band: When Motive Is Considered, His Accuser Doesn't Look Much Like a Victim

Regarding "Prosecution Complex," what I want to know is this: Did State Attorney's Office secretary Sherry Rossbach take lessons from Potiphar's wife?

This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. An office Christmas party has determined the fate of our criminal justice system. Why can't the same system that uses motive as a tool to convict use Ms. Rossbach's motive (the timely use of a scapegoat to cover her own inappropriate conduct and save her own hide) to determine Michael Band's innocence?

If the issue here is women's rights in the workplace, then why did Ms. Rossbach wait so long to take appropriate legal action? The photograph of her with Band at that Christmas party doesn't exactly suggest she's the victim of unchecked testosterone flow or male oppression.

Ms. Rossbach played the gender card as a means of displacing the real issue: her own misconduct. That constitutes not only an injustice to herself, which she will one day have to face, but an injustice to women who are true victims of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

Manny Losada
Miami

Inspired in Seattle
This is in response to Ted B. Kissell's article "You Do the Math" (November 26), about Ira Paul, the Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School math teacher who successfully sued his employer, the school district. I commend Mr. Paul for standing up for himself and fighting for what is rightfully his.

I hope Mr. Paul has inspired other people to stand up for their rights. Perhaps more employers will think twice before taking advantage of their employees.

Tarah Alatorre
Seattle, Washington

Roughed Up by American Toughs, He Bravely Holds His Fire
I had to respond to the unfair letter New Times printed (November 26) from Melissa Sindle of Hallandale. Her tirade against the Haitian people was uncalled for and vicious.

I have been tossed around by American toughs, but am I writing disparaging letters about all Americans?

And yes, Ms. Sindle, if you are taking a poll, I have met kind and hard-working Haitians I welcome to our shores. Be fair by not criticizing an entire group of people because of the actions of a few.

Ms. Sindle, you call yourself an American, but this is the type of bigotry that is distinctly un-American.

Alan Gittelson
Miami Beach

Hey, Leroy Jones, Please Step Up Here and Take a Bow
Tristram Korten's story "The Devil and Mr. Jones" (November 12) was a very positive way of giving someone credit when he deserves it. I don't even know Leroy Jones personally but I know he is a good man with a good cause.

People like him show other people that you cannot measure everybody with the same ruler. He committed certain crimes and paid for them. A lot of us have been there, and it doesn't mean you cannot turn negative into positive. Leroy Jones is a magnificent example.

The Weed and Seed program is more about weeding than seeding, and that's why certain communities are very wary of it. Cops make many unnecessary arrests. Police departments and their officers must respect every individual's civil rights no matter what the color of their skin or whether they speak with an accent. Many times those charges are made to meet quotas and to please supervisors.

The only way to achieve economic development in Miami's inner city is by creating jobs, investing, and providing grants to boost the emergence of new businesses. I would rather have a felon like Leroy Jones as my neighbor than somebody who has no prior convictions but will not achieve anything meaningful in his or her life. My hat goes off to you, Mr. Jones. Keep the hustle.

Miguel Fernandez
Aventura

Overtown Revitalization Formula: Out with the Cars, in with the Crowds
Can Leroy Jones save us? Maybe, if he can see what the following things have in common: East Everglades development, $25 million for Overtown renewal, Operation Clean Sweep, and Weed and Seed police actions. All involve the same basic, organic issue: development patterns based on automobile infrastructure.

A New York bicycle activist states it this way: "Pedestrians are the indicator species of a healthy community." In other words you can measure the quality of life in an area by the number of people you see freely walking, unafraid, unencumbered, fully enfranchised as members of their community.

Herein lies a crisis. Our development pattern of sprawl and urban renewal by dissection is based on a presumption that cars and empty streets are good. This auto-nation mentality has bizarre consequences. Isolated inner-city black communities crowded with drug dealers who rule the street corners need beat cops and robust pedestrian activity. Instead, police and youth activists insist on first stashing away the good guys in jobs, then leaving the bad guys (the drug dealers) all alone on their street corners. Clearing the streets to provide a sterile void is not the same thing as building a community.

Years ago the good life in Overtown was the nightlife in Overtown. Have you ever heard an older white Miamian wax nostalgic about sneaking into the jazz clubs of the segregation-era Overtown of his youth? Have you heard the bitterness at the loss well up in the telling, just as it does in the voice of a black Overtown grandmother decrying the degradation of her community?

Young people freely congregating in public, displaying their dress, and bearing their success and sense of self-worth, is the best deterrent to delinquency. But promoting a vibrant Overtown club scene is a stretch when the Nation of Islam emerges as the most vocal activist group for the neighborhood's rebirth.

Overtown desperately needs a connection to the rest of the city. The basic infrastructure is there: Plenty of vacant office, club, and retail space is available. And the market is there: South Beach's Washington Avenue is overrun on weekends (creating a different kind of police problem). At the heart of the matter is the need for an awakening, an understanding that public spaces and public transportation are the future, and that Overtown is Miami's future.

The City of Miami should take responsibility for permitting and regulating a privatized short-loop shuttle system tied to the Omni, Bayside, and Metrorail, and fund lighted, tree-lined streets to promote usability. These relatively inexpensive first steps, coupled with commitments from the art community and other funded Eastward Ho! components are key.

If we really want to jump-start Overtown, all we really need is one slogan: "Freaknik South in Overtown next spring. Pass the word!"

Paul Berry
Miami

Congressman Ducks Israelis, Smears Humble Cubans, Lives Happily Ever After
According to Jim DeFede, Colorado Rep. David Skaggs appears to enjoy criticizing the Cuban community's political clout and the government money it spends ("A Legacy of Reason," November 12). So why doesn't he also attack other groups whose ethnically motivated spending has wasted many taxpayer dollars? Representative Skaggs referred to Cuban exiles as an "untoward influence [that] a relatively small segment of the population ... brings to bear." What would have happened if he spoke of the Zionist lobby in the same way?

During his search for wasteful spending, did Representative Skaggs condemn the countless millions directed each year toward our Israeli allies? No, not really. You see, the Hebrew lobby in America is incredibly powerful. Skaggs, afraid of this power, dares not cross the line with them, for they would declare him a Nazi and destroy his entire career and name.

Skaggs attacks the Cubans because he probably considers them to be mere immigrants, miserable and worthless, possibly even unable to speak English. I am particularly proud that my community taught this politician a lesson and showed him that just because we are a minority and exiles, the majority cannot tread on us. For this to happen would be a travesty in light of the political and social conditions of our recent history, some of which indicate that Washington played a pivotal role in Fidel Castro's ascension to power.

It is clear the United States owes the Cuban people much more than the measly $100 million spent on TV Marti, for U.S. political interference in 1959 caused the destruction of our country, the deaths of countless hundreds of thousands, the disruption of lives and families, and the oppression of our people.

Miguel Rodriguez
Miami

And You Can't Beat the Price, Right, Vic?
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your informative newspaper. New Times is much better reading than the Miami Herald, and tells it like it is. Thank you.

Vic Lundstrom
Miami

Final Wrap
Excellent article by Gilbert Garcia on Dylan's recent archive release ("Forever Young," November 12). This is an essential listen for anyone interested in a historic moment when folk fused with rock and gave birth to a new genre of music.

This recorded document reflects a cornerstone of American music that gave rise to many of current artists and their repertoires, but also affected music on a worldwide basis. Congratulations for bringing attention to this cherished and finally released document, which many Dylan fans have had in their possession as bootlegs for so many years.

Mark Gaines
Austin, Texas

Errata
The November 26 New Times gift guide "Wrappin'" did not include creative acknowledgements. The guide was written by Barbara Drake and edited by Ben Greenman.

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