Jiang Zemin Stuns World, Embraces Democracy

Letters from the issue of July 13, 2000

Now, after more than twenty years in the American West, where I found the police officers in Colorado, California, and Washington State to be more interested in public safety than in revenue-generation, I see in Officer Oertwig some important common sense. He can apparently make the distinction between a threat to society and his boss's pet peeve.

The article's closing comparison of firemen and police officers was striking. One is perceived as helping society, the other is just writing tickets. It's too bad we dislike the very people we need so much in our society.

Bernie Hourihan
Miami Beach

"We love speeders," says spokesman:
All hail Ofcr. William Oertwig! I'm sure traffic tickets were once a good deterrent. But as American values have changed (a lack of faith in government), the majority of us today realize that traffic tickets are a tremendously lucrative revenue stream for state and local money machines.

What kicks my ass is the unsavory (and probably unconstitutional) data sharing that goes on with my private insurance company. I can get radar-busted for speeding (which is pretty damn close to entrapment), pay a hefty fine, and then get punished for years to come for the same petty offense by a private company based on civil-offense records.

The sickening part of this is that good men like Officer Oertwig, who truly want to serve the community, are made to feel cheapened by “money-collection” duty. If his read on the situation today becomes the norm at the Miami-Dade Police Department, heads will roll in an insurance-lobbyist, cash-laden bloodbath.

Randy Nobles
Miami Shores

So we can stamp the number on your forehead:
I salute Bill Oertwig in standing by his beliefs, but the system at the Miami-Dade Police Department doesn't tolerate such independence, nor does it approve of opinions that are contrary to what is politically correct. Anyone at the officer level who draws attention to an unfair situation -- or in his case, actually takes a stand -- gets a label, and once you're labeled in this department, forget about going anywhere.

I volunteered for my current assignment four and a half years ago (I have eighteen years with the department) and have received above-satisfactory or satisfactory evaluations. But I cannot get transferred back to the road, even after appealing as high up as a chief's office. An officer gets a label and everything is then an uphill battle.

I wish Bill Godspeed in his long road ahead.

Tom Taber
Cooper City

Death of a Maiden
Déjà was a survivor in Miami's perilous world of transsexual hookers -- that is, until she met a customer named Bowlegs
By Tristram Korten

Sometimes easier said than done:
After I finished reading “Death of a Maiden” (June 29) by Tristram Korten, I wanted to express my appreciation. Even as a man who has accepted his own African-American gay identity for more than twenty years, the article enlightened me as to a perilous subculture I had only seen previously in snapshots during my work as a law-enforcement officer and within the gay community.

I do not want to add to the stereotyping of transgender individuals. I have known such people who lead legitimate, invisible, middle-class lives. But I was especially sympathetic to Dondre Johnson's mother, Clara Duncan. I wanted to place my arm around her shoulder and tell her she is not responsible for her son's sexual orientation, or the choices he made as an educated adult to engage in criminal conduct.

In a nation whose invidious laws show contempt for the idea that gay people have human rights equal to heterosexuals, Ms. Duncan is truly an admirable and courageous mother for expressing her unwavering love for her son. So many parents in similar situations basically disown their children.

Ambrose Sims
Carol City

Plowing Under the Cuba Embargo
A Spokane politician wants to make Castro pay -- literally
By Jim DeFede

From Botha to Duvalier to Fidel:
Jim DeFede did a good job of portraying the intentions of Rep. George Nethercutt and the farmers who want to sell rice and grains to Cuba (“Plowing Under the Cuba Embargo,” June 29). But he did not explain why the embargo was established in the first place, and whether those reasons have been resolved.

As for the reaction of the Castro government to Nethercutt's proposal, we saw another aggressive march full of U.S.-bashing and the usual “we won't change” official slogans. So much for any hopes of reform in Cuba based on our unilateral change of policy. Perhaps we should try really enforcing an international embargo. It worked in South Africa and in Haiti, but it hasn't been tried in Cuba.

Alicia Rodriguez

Get off the dole and find a
real job! I'm so sick of reading ignorant journalism whenever New Times attempts to discuss anything related to Cuban Americans. In response to Rep. George Nethercutt's proclamation that the embargo against Cuba hasn't worked in 40 years, I say perhaps a key reason is that the embargo hasn't been enforced. Large corporations have continued to work in conjunction with the Castro regime without repercussions, without prosecution. Considering Cuba's booming tourism business, it seems somewhat ironic Cuban people are starving and suffering from antiquated housing, yet tourists have newly renovated hotel facilities in Havana with all-you-can-eat buffets. Let's get real for a moment here.

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