Sleazy, Lazy, and Filthy Rich

Letters from the issue of July 6, 2000

The Knight of Blight
Miami developer Aristides Martinez once seemed an inner-city savior. Today he goes by another name: Slumlord.
By Victor Cruz

Ten reasons why I just love public housing:

Victor Cruz's article about public-housing developer Aristides Martinez (“The Knight of Blight,” June 22) brought back memories. For three years (1993-1996) I served on the board of the Miami-Dade Housing and Finance Authority. From what I saw, those who truly benefit from all these low-income housing programs are:

•Sleazy and lazy developers who rely not on their skill but on lobbyists and government contacts to obtain inflated and extremely profitable deals (with plenty of taxpayer money to go around)

•Sleazy and lazy contractors and builders who overcharge and perform subpar work (it's only taxpayer money, after all)

•Sleazy and lazy bond dealers and underwriters who also rely on contacts in the government for their livelihood

•Mortgage brokers and banks that peddle government-backed loans, making a commission, of course, that will ultimately have an extremely high default rate (another burden for taxpayers)

•Lobbyists (these guys are everywhere!)

•Board members, county commissioners, and county employees who travel twice a year to places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta and stay in hotels like the Ritz. These trips are disguised as seminars, but they really serve no purpose (and besides, the taxpayers are picking up the tab).

And what about the poor people these programs are really supposed to benefit? For the most part they get what Victor Cruz described in his article. I happen to own properties in areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties that some people would consider undesirable. I do not take one cent of government money to buy or fix these properties. From my perspective these government programs achieve the following:

•Artificially raise rents and housing prices. This is especially damaging to low-income families who do not rely on government assistance to pay their rent or mortgages

•Attract landlords who rely on government and bureaucratic contacts to get highly subsidized rents and offer minimal maintenance and upkeep

•Worsen crime situations in areas that usually have enough problems without the extra “help”

•Create a perpetual dependency on the government for housing.These programs may have been well intentioned at some point, but today they are similar to an out-of-control stampede of white elephants. The whole nation would be much better served if they were taken out of the government's filthy hands. Private-sector donations should handle it rather than force taxpayers to pay for Mr. Martinez and his cohorts' mansions in Cocoplum. Since when has the U.S. Constitution guaranteed life, liberty, and low-income housing?

Emiliano Antunez

Don't Look for the Union Label
For two years Goya Foods has waged a war to prevent its workers from unionizing. Now things are starting to get really ugly.
By Kathy Glasgow

... or stand up for the union:

Regarding the article about Goya Foods by Kathy Glasgow (“Don't Look for the Union Label,” June 22), congratulations to those Goya workers who wanted to unionize themselves and later signed an anti-union petition because, in my opinion, they got bribed by their latest manager, Mr. Bob Unanue.

Far as I'm concerned, you people are just a bunch of weak and incompetent sheep, and when the boss man says, “Bend over!” you say, “How far?”

Unions don't destroy jobs. They give workers the right to speak their minds. They discuss issues like better wages, improved working conditions, stronger benefits for workers and their families, and how to have a balanced and fair relationship with management. If you stay vigilant about conditions at your job site, management can bite you and your workmates in the rear when you least expect it.

Alberto Turienzo, [a UNITE union advocate fired from his job at Goya], had a goal: to make Goya's workers' lives better by making them stronger and having them treated like human beings. But all of you just left him like some worn-out dish rag, which was really pathetic. Do yourselves a favor and contact UNITE at Secaucus, New Jersey, and ask them about their relationship with Goya's management. It may inspire you to unionize for the better.

One more thing: If you're getting overtime pay, 401(k) plans, and health benefits, don't thank Goya Foods. Thank the union.

Craig L. Toth

The Real McGuffin
Neil McGuffin was supposed to guide the Miami Beach Housing Authority into the new millennium. Instead he exposed an agency in disarray. And he lost his job.
By Victor Cruz

What's the relationship between body weight and brain power?

It is really sad that a once-respectable newspaper like Miami New Times has turned into what it is now. I'm referring to Victor Cruz's article about Neil McGuffin and the Miami Beach Housing Authority (“The Real McGuffin,” June 15).

The article did not mention any of the real issues, such as the way Mr. McGuffin made an illegal Section 8 list and was planning to insert it in the legal list to benefit a specific ethnic group, or manipulation of requests for proposals, or overspending of federal money without board approval, or many other things like that, which are facts and public record but were not mentioned.

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