Letters to the Editor

From the issue of November 9, 2000

 Watch Where You're Going!
It's not enough that you're obnoxious; you're also a lousy driver:
I am writing in response to Victor Cruz's article “Loud, Proud, and Out of Work” (November 2), about Ezell Robinson being fired by the Metro-Dade Transit Agency. You probably don't remember me, Mr. Robinson, but I used to be a passenger on your #2 bus. I used to get on at NW 46th Street and Second Avenue in the mornings to go to work downtown. You used to make me so nervous and angry, because you were always reading the newspaper while you were driving. I used to get so scared thinking that one morning you wouldn't look up in time to stop the bus before you ran into the back of someone, or you'd possibly run a red light and get us all killed! Let me ask you: While you were driving the bus on that fateful day in April, were you reading the paper when you collided with that minivan and sent it flying into someone's yard?

It is my opinion that what happened to you (getting fired) is what you deserved. It was only a matter of time. You were very arrogant, rude, and obnoxious to me on the few occasions I asked you to please not read the newspaper while driving. I'm sure you've heard this saying before: “What you do in the dark will always come to the light.” Looks like that light is shining pretty bright on you right now.

Good riddance to a dangerous public servant.

Bonnie Clark
Miami

Dear Boone,
Our apologies:
In addition to being quoted in Lee Klein's “Dish” story about high-priced dining (“Tale of Four Cities,” November 2), I am the publicist for the restaurant Bambù. I am writing you to request a correction to an error in Mr. Klein's article. The chef at Bambù is named Rob Boone, not Rob Deer as published.

Larry Carrino
Miami

The Semantics of Racism
Since when is a 35-year-old attorney a "kid"?
Jim DeFede's article “Splitsville” (October 19) tells the story of a high-profile county hall lobbyist, Norman C. Powell, who is suing another high-profile county hall lobbyist, Christopher G. Korge. DeFede begins his story by noting that until a few weeks ago, the two men were friends working together in the law firm of Korge & Powell. DeFede continues to set the stage for his tale by noting that the central issue in the lawsuit is whether Powell was a partner in the law firm or a salaried employee. He points out that Powell claims he was a partner and that Korge claims Powell was an employee. Although DeFede attempts to be evenhanded in describing the dispute, he leaves a crucial fact that is essential in properly assessing the dispute and fully appreciating many of the comments made in the article. DeFede fails to mention that Korge is white and Powell is black. Once we complete the picture by adding its racial component, the story takes on greater significance in light of the poor performance of area law firms in the recruitment, promotion, and retention of black lawyers.

Prior to November 1998, Powell was a black partner in the twelve-attorney firm of Hanzman Criden Korge & Chaykin. He left that firm with Korge to form Korge & Powell. It appeared that Powell truly was blessed in that he, as a black lawyer, at least had made it to the partnership ranks in a predominantly white firm. Many blacks who make partner in such firms, however, leave for other environments where they feel more comfortable. Without commenting on the merits of Korge's defense that his black partner at Hanzman Criden left with him to set up a firm and become Korge's employee, “Splitsville” still is significant because many of the comments in the article may reveal attitudes of some partners at predominantly white firms.

DeFede quotes Korge's attorney, Thomas Tew, in order to describe how Korge views the case. Tew, a partner at Tew Cardenas Rebak Kellogg Lehman DeMaria & Tague, begins his statements by asking, “How dumb does this kid expect the world to be?” Tew continues to refer to Powell, a 35-year-old black attorney who has been practicing law for more than ten years, as a “kid” throughout the article. It appears that Tew used the word “kid” in an attempt to reduce the manhood of Powell. Alternatively it simply is an expression of the shared view of Tew and his client that Powell is a “kid,” “child,” or “boy” in their eyes. The use of the expression in referring to Powell, an experienced and prominent black lawyer, is insulting and clearly inappropriate. Such comments are at best racially insensitive and at worst racist.

Tew's initial comment also seems to suggest that Powell does not have a handle on reality because he would have to think the world is dumb enough to believe he was a partner of Korge. Perhaps Tew based his comments on the fact that it is rare to find a black lawyer in the partnership ranks of predominantly white firms. Although Tew has no black partners in his law firm, and black partners are rare in Miami, it clearly is not a dumb thought to think that Powell, who was Korge's partner at Hanzman Criden, also could have been his partner in the firm of Korge & Powell.

DeFede also quotes Tew as asking, “Is [Powell] just illiterate when it comes to tax matters?” Tew could have used many words to express his belief that Powell has limited knowledge when it comes to tax matters. But Tew intentionally selected the word “illiterate” to refer to a black lawyer he views as a “kid.” In using the word “illiterate,” he conjures stereotypical images of blacks who have little or no education. The image becomes even more vivid when “illiterate” is placed next to “kid” and phrases like “how dumb.” Once again Tew's comments are insulting to Powell and all black lawyers. They clearly are inappropriate. Such comments may be indicative of the environment at some firms and may suggest why it is that black lawyers still find it difficult to reach the partnership ranks at major firms in Miami.

Tew also is quoted as saying, “Ask the kid who opened the doors for him and who mentored him.” Here he has reached for another stereotype by suggesting that doors are closed for people like Powell, and that a great benefactor like he and/or Korge is needed to open them. Tew seems to boldly proclaim that the doors of partnership and economic inclusion for black lawyers are closed unless individuals like he and Korge decide to open them. His statement seems to discount the intelligence and hard work of Powell and other black lawyers and serves as a reminder to Powell and others of who is in charge and who holds the reins of power in Miami-Dade County.

The dispute between Korge and Powell is significant in that Powell's experience represents a microcosm of the problems and issues faced by many black law partners in Miami-Dade County. Additionally the dispute is very troubling because of the way in which a black law partner has been portrayed in the media as part of a defense strategy. The dispute between Korge and Powell has gotten the attention of the Black Lawyers Association, Inc. The Black Lawyers Association is committed to encouraging and promoting diversity in Miami's legal community. We plan to be vigilant in promoting the professional advancement of black lawyers as well as challenging inequities within the legal profession.

Jason M. Murray, president
Black Lawyers Association, Inc.
Miami

McIntire: Choices Have Consequences
The moral hazards of hurting one to help another:
I offer the following with respect to David Villano's October 19 article about Alex McIntire, “Admired in Life, Reviled in Death.”

I was a friend of Alex McIntire, and I briefly knew Linda and Lisa Hamilton when they first moved to Miami. Later I knew Alex's second wife and child. I'd had no contact with any of them for years until last year, when Alex died.

Alex hurt people. Years ago, apparently, he hurt his stepdaughter, Lisa Hamilton. More recently, as the result of his apparent suicide, he hurt friends and his second family. Mr. Villano, in an effort to help Lisa Hamilton (if a recent letter-writer is correct), hurt Alex's young child. Mr. Villano did this not because he had to. Rather he chose to hurt in order to “help.” Sadly the hurt he inflicted does not appear to have helped Lisa Hamilton, given the quotations attributed to her.

It seems to me that while we all make moral and ethical choices, we should not choose to hurt in order to help unless there is no other choice. Even then I'm not sure. Mr. Villano had other choices, even if he wanted to help Lisa Hamilton. Though not a physician, Mr. Villano could benefit from medicine's counsel to “first, do no harm.”

Dave Tank
Atlanta, Georgia

McIntire: Voice to the Victim
There are many others like me:
I've never written to a newspaper in response to an article, but I had to thank David Villano for his article on Alex McIntire. I too am a sexual-abuse victim. I too went to the State Attorney's Office to put this child molester behind bars. The State Attorney said it was my word against his and blah, blah, blah.

When are people going to start snapping to the reality that this is happening and put these men in jail? Shame on our legal system. Shame on our courts. Shame on these men you can't accuse because they're such upstanding individuals that no one believes you and thinks you're the sicko. I hope Alex McIntire, with his brilliant intelligence, figured out that his suicide was an admission of guilt and that everyone would know what he'd done.

Thank you for being brave enough to do the right thing and write what you did about this man. Please help other victims find a voice by publishing more articles. Victims are out there everywhere: male, female, young, old. When a victim of child abuse sees she or he isn't the only one, it helps in the healing process.

I mailed the article to the man who raped me when I was nine years old, the man who stole my soul. I hope he reads it, but he probably won't. Thanks again to David Villano for being brave enough to tell the story of one child's nightmare and for helping her heal. She's lucky.

Haji Blue Senufa
Miami

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