Letters to the Editor

From the issue of August 17, 2000

The Wimp
Gary Dellapa's retirement from MIA comes not a moment too soon
By Jim DeFede

Merrett Speaks Up for Merit
If Dellapa were such a loser, I'd have booted him long ago:
I can't think of anything good that was accomplished by Jim DeFede's mean-spirited article on Miami-Dade County aviation director Gary Dellapa (“The Wimp,” August 3). None of us is perfect, including Jim DeFede and me, but what happened to Dellapa's 30 years of dedicated public service without a hint of impropriety? Gary served this community as Miami-Dade's budget director for several years and later as assistant county manager during my previous tenure. What happened also to Gary's steadfast stewardship of the five-billion-dollar capital improvement program that is so vital to the economic welfare of this community? And that is not to mention the thousands of ten- to twelve-hour days managing a very complex environment.

Instead of giving Gary a fair shake, we have derogatory statements by unnamed sources who denigrate the character of a very bright, hard-working, and honest public servant. I too may have wished that Gary had been more aggressive in weeding out dead wood or questionable performers, but he deserves a whole lot more recognition and credit than DeFede's callous comments.

As for that portion of DeFede's column dealing with senior assistants Steve Spratt and Bill Johnson, I wish he had included my comment that both gentlemen would be worthy candidates for the county manager's position when I leave. I don't know whether Bill Johnson will become a candidate for the aviation director position. If he does, then I would think he would be seriously considered, recognizing that we are conducting a professionally led search to secure the most talented, experienced candidate for appointment to that critically important position. The same applies to Steve Spratt and the director of parks and recreation position.

My reading of Jim DeFede's approach was that I would take care of “the good old boys” before I leave, which I find insulting and offensive. I will not “take care” of anybody. When I do make an appointment, it will be the best candidate for the job, no matter the person's ethnicity, race, or gender. Anyone who looks at my public record of appointments over the years will confirm that they have been very sensitive to those issues while at the same time striving for competence and professionalism.

Merrett R. Stierheim, county manager
Miami-Dade County

That's Rich
Wanna know how county commissioners earn their keep? Don't bother checking financial disclosure forms.
By Jacob Bernstein and Robbie Guerra

First You Get the Power, Then You Get the Money
Maximize your assets; run for office!
The article by Jacob Bernstein and Robbie Guerra about financial disclosure forms (“That's Rich,” August 10) shows just one of the reasons politics in general is so corrupt and attracts such an undesirable element, for the most part. In reality the culprit is not money but power. From toilets at the airport to pay-phone contracts to garbage pickup to arenas -- the county, its mayor, and the commissioners wield far too much power over our lives and pocketbooks. This has created an atmosphere in which the politically connected get rich and the rest of us are taxed and regulated to death.

Unfortunately among the current crop of candidates there seems to be no hope. They are all saying, “I can do a better job than him/her; I am less corrupt than him/her; I am more honest than him/her; I can manage your tax money better than him/her.” I'm afraid we've all heard this before. I have not heard one of these candidates state the obvious: Government has overstepped its boundaries and must pull back. Rather than suggest all these blue-ribbon commissions and panels to fix the airport, why not do the obvious and privatize it, like London's Heathrow? This would really get the commission's sticky fingers out of the pot (if done correctly).

Can someone tell me why the county owns or contracts out pay phones? While I'm asking questions, can someone explain why the county uses taxpayer money to build arenas for billionaires so millionaires can play in them?

The point of all this is that if the Miami-Dade County Commission did not have all this power it has apparently granted itself over the years, the money interests would not be there. The corruption would be insignificant or negligible. No one has said it better than Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Emiliano Antunez

County Commissioner No Math Whiz
Add an SUV, subtract a few knickknacks:
After reviewing my financial disclosure form from 1997, I discovered two mathematical errors. The error was failing to add the $28,000 in household goods to the overall asset value. The net worth listed in part A of the 1997 financial disclosure read $407,904 when it should have read $435,904. The other error was omitting the value of the 1994 Ford Explorer. That omission makes it look like that from 1997 to 1998 my net worth grew by $37,000 when in actuality, had the value of the Ford Explorer ($23,000) been included in the report, the net worth should reflect a growth of $14,081 from the 1997 report to the 1998 report.

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