Letters

Lorion: I Was Slimed
I was flattered that esteemed New Times writer Jake Bernstein and your exceptional publication found my resignation from the formal environmental movement newsworthy enough for an article ("Resignation Indignation," December 31). But I was sad to read that unnamed former peers question whether my opposition to buying out the 81-2 Square Mile Area is part of some sinister plot to open the Everglades to development. This bizarre insinuation is as baseless as the claim that this area must be purchased to restore the Everglades.

Rather than disagree with me on the facts, these anonymous character assassins disregarded my twenty years of volunteer environmental work. They seized on my consultation with the Miccosukee Tribe, who love the Glades as much as I do, to try to explain my decision to break ranks. The government's ill-advised plan calls for destruction of 350 homes and 1500 lives under the guise of Everglades restoration.

I am honored that the Miccosukee Indians, the first environmentalists, allow me to help them in the struggle to save their homeland. I am grateful they respect my right to speak out on what I believe is right for the Everglades ... even if it contradicts popular environmental wisdom. I love working for people who demand that decisions about the Everglades be based on fact and science, rather than hyperbole and myth.

I won't apologize for visiting the 81-2 Square Mile Area and reviewing the facts myself. I am surprised that other well-intentioned environmentalists rely on assertions by officials of Everglades National Park and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

My decision was not premeditated. Au contraire, a few months prior to the district meeting, I visited the area at a resident's request. I wanted to confront the victims of a buyout that was allegedly necessary to save the Everglades. I discovered real people who loved the land, many who came to this country on a raft and built their homes and their lives as part of a search for the American dream.

I delved further. I discovered an alleged public process that was unfair, undemocratic, and treated living, breathing human beings like poker chips. A thorough review of the documents, and consultation with hydrologists, caused me to deem that buyout of the 81-2 Square Mile Area as unnecessary. I concluded that buyout was bad not only for the people, but for the Everglades, because it would delay implementation of a critical project.

Bernstein's article correctly reported that I would not disclose my salary. It's a private matter, but I don't mind telling you that I drive a 1989 Volvo. As for the prominent environmentalist who declined to be identified when casting aspersions on my motives ... it's easy to remain prominent if you don't have to defend insupportable statements. It's easier to depersonalize the people whose land and homes you covet than to have a healthy debate on the facts. Oh, for the environmentalists of old who were not homogenized, singular of opinion, nor afraid to have their names attached to their comments.

I was drawn to the environmental cause more than twenty years ago because it was populated by volunteers whose love of nature was commensurate with their love of social justice. Indeed, Marjory Stoneman Douglas (fondly dubbed "ecosaint" by Bernstein) fought for social justice issues and women's rights, as well as the Everglades. Respect for human rights and the dignity of the individual must once again become part of the environmental cause or we will lose both the struggle and our soul.

As for my position on the 81-2 Square Mile Area, I'm willing to change my mind if any named peers confront me with persuasive facts.

Joette Lorion
Miami

Glades Dwellers, Say Hello to the Klingons!
I am writing in reference to "Resignation Indignation." I just saw Star Trek: Insurrection, in which the Ba'ku, a small peaceful agricultural colony, is being evicted to provide eternal life for millions of Federation inhabitants. It reminded me of the people in the 81-2 Square Mile Area who have the right to remain on their land. They bought it legally and they pay taxes. Congress passed a law providing them with flood protection and nobody should be above Congress. I hope that the SFWMD board will be replaced by the new Bush administration and justice will prevail. We just need Captain Picard to come to the rescue.

Jose Delfino
Miami

UM Cops, Get Thee to the Gables
Regarding Tristram Korten's article "Keystone Cops at College" (December 31), I think Ofcr. Andrew Allocco's fate is ridiculous. I understand problems with radio communication. That is something that should not be ignored. I also think UM should not have its own police department. The school should have a private security company in addition to beefed-up Gables Police presence. The UMPD officers should be allowed to join the Coral Gables Police Department.

Jason Fortin
Miami Shores

Give Allocco a Gold Star
Regarding "Keystone Cops at College," I am shocked that these two police forces are not in sync with each other. I believe that Allocco is right. Too bad he was not honored for the bravery he showed by speaking the truth. It is a shame the police are not allowed to make public statements regarding such problems. No wonder there are deaths that go unsolved. For crying out loud, the officers cannot even contact each other. Why not give this young man a bonus rather than a reprimand? He certainly deserves one.

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