Letters to the Editor

From the issue of August 17, 2000

I have amended the 1997 financial disclosure to include the addition of the $28,000 in household goods and the $23,000 value of the Ford Explorer. With these corrections the 1997 report now lists my net worth as $458,904.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Javier Souto, commissioner
Miami-Dade County

Since When Is Being No Math Whiz a Crime?
Evidently when you're a county commissioner:
Jacob Bernstein and Robbie Guerra mention in their article that, with respect to Commissioner Javier Souto and his “mistake” in filling out the financial disclosure forms required by law, penalties for lying on financial disclosure forms include possible fines and removal from office. For what State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle calls “the little people,” penalties can be worse.

On April 1, 1998, Carlos Valdes, the county's former chief building inspector, was indicted on charges of official misconduct and failing to report income of roughly the same amount as the discrepancy in the Souto disclosure forms discussed in the New Times article. Somehow I do not see Ms. Fernandez Rundle going after Mr. Souto the way she went after Mr. Valdes.

Mr. Valdes had been promoted to the position of chief building inspector in January 1998. When information surfaced regarding his moonlighting as a contractor (and inspecting at least two of his own projects), he was immediately suspended from his job and subsequently fired. Later he was indicted, along with Reinaldo Villar and me.

While charges against Mr. Villar and me were dropped, Mr. Valdes eventually pleaded guilty to one felony charge of official misconduct. (In a deal worked out with prosecutors, adjudication was withheld, meaning he will have no felony record.)

While I firmly believe those who break the law should be held accountable for their actions, I also believe the law should apply equally to all people, which of course it never has and never will. I just wonder what Mr. Valdes would have to say about the Souto situation.

Lee Martin
Miami

Editor's note: In April 1998 Lee Martin, a former top county building official, was suspended from his job and charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence after allowing the Dadeland Station shopping complex to open with what were alleged to have been major construction flaws. After the State Attorney's Office dropped the charge against him, Mr. Martin sued the county for reinstatement and damages. That case is pending.

Singed by Jason's Blazing Computer
Won't be me casting that first stone:
I have to admit I enjoyed very much the recent letter from Jason Pijuan about Cubans, African Americans, and Anglos in this community (“Letters,” July 27). He had the intelligence to synthesize the main characteristics of the three groups. Luckily for the Jews and the Haitians, they escaped Jason's computer keyboard.

As in an x-ray, however, the picture he shows us is just a skeleton of these human beings, without the tender flesh of good virtues that adorn each of these groups. Yes, Jason described what is true in many cases, but that was only a part, a negative part, of the whole truth.

I agree with Jason that I must not point blame at other groups and must not throw stones on my neighbor's house when my house has a glass roof. That is what Jesus said. And I appreciate very much the welcome that all Americans gave to Cubans looking for freedom and a better life in this country. I also believe most Cubans feel strong admiration and love for the United States, even if that is sometimes difficult to see.

Adolfo Costa
Miami

Stars and Bars and Blame
Beware hypocrites in patriotic garb:
In response to the letter from Jason Pijuan, I'd like to say as a black man that it is extremely frustrating to see so many of us rise above the adversity we face only to have others bring us right back down.

The behavior of many fellow blacks in the wake of the Elian Gonzalez situation was extremely disappointing and disturbing. In the midst of a campaign by the NAACP against the Confederate flag, how can we justify the participation of blacks in the so called pro-American rallies? They were nothing more than hate rallies against the Latino community.

I was shocked when passing by the suburbs of South Miami-Dade. I encountered dozens of people parading around the Confederate flag, carrying signs of hate against Latinos. What truly disgusted me was that half the people participating in these “rallies” were black men and women. How can we expect to excel as a people when there is so much hypocrisy within our own community? The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and a reminder of the disgusting acts that have been committed against us. To see blacks side by side with these pigs is inexcusable. I have even heard a so-called local black leader proclaim that the Elian case brought blacks and whites closer together. What a joke.

We used to blame whites for our troubles. Now Hispanics are to blame for “not giving us a chance.” Give me a break. We can blame all we want; it will not get us anywhere. The time has come to look at ourselves.

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