Letters to the Editor

From the issue of December 14, 2000

 Public Service the Braddock Way
First thing you do, you tell the damn public to go to hell: When I first read Miami-Dade school board member G. Holmes Braddock quoted in the Miami Herald as saying, "I've never thought we had a very bright public," I thought he might have been quoted out of context. But after reading the full text of his rambling diatribe in Rebecca Wakefield's article "Listen Here, You Boneheads, We Ain't Broke So Don't Try and Fix Us" (December 7), I was shocked to discover that the Herald quote was not only accurate but that it didn't really do justice to the indifference, disdain, and outright contempt this man has for the public he is supposed to serve. Message to G. Holmes: Maybe if you and your buddies on the school board were doing your job, we would have an educated public. It defies belief that they named a high school after this man!

The idea of ethical oversight for the school board is an excellent one and long overdue. Watching the various print and television news media dig up scandal after scandal at the school board seems like the journalistic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

I am an employee of a Miami-Dade County government agency. We are watched over by an ethics board as well as an auditor general. Every employee in my department has received mandatory ethics training, and we have written policies concerning conflicts of interest and other ethical issues. These are very positive steps for a public agency, and they have in no way negatively affected my department's effectiveness. I am sure the school board members could easily adopt similar ethics procedures if they really wanted to.

When I look at the school board and the upper management of the school district, I see individuals who lack concern for students and the public, who engage in unethical behavior, and who lack the requisite compassion, skills, and intelligence these important positions demand. I am not a religious person, but the fact that teachers somehow teach and children somehow learn while being supervised by this school board can only be explained by the divine intervention of a higher power.

Christopher Caporale

My Life as a Pinko Commie Agitator
Ah yes, those were the good old days: I was delighted to read Brett Sokol's two-part "Kulchur" column about Miami's Socialist Workers Party ("Socialism or Suntan," November 30 and December 7) and also to notice that several leftist parties were on the ballot for the recent elections. It brought back memories of an era in which I was the only member of the American Communist Party in the City of Miami.

In the mid-Seventies the Communist Party (CP) in Dade County consisted of perhaps 100 card-carrying members. All were senior citizens residing in Miami Beach. Most were apostates who had abandoned their Jewish background, solid Stalinists who grumbled about the weakening of communist standards in Eastern Europe. Some were veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the first racially integrated fighting force in American history and the first to battle the fascists and Nazi forces during the Spanish republic's final days in the late Thirties.

But in the mid-Seventies I was the only CP member living in Miami. My greatest achievement was the inclusion of the CP in the Vietnam "Day of Mourning" commemoration. It was the first time in ages the CP had been publicized in the Miami Herald. I worked on other political projects as well, as a driver for visiting civil-rights and labor-rights activists. One time we were asked to help a gentleman who ran for the Miami Beach City Commission. Our squad conferred with him in what today is still a decrepit hotel on Ocean Drive. Another time somebody mentioned that Miami Beach Police Chief Rocky Pomerance had been "with us" once. I took that to mean the chief's closeness to leftist causes during his youth in the New York area. Certainly Rocky Pomerance proved adept in accommodating the entire "movement" in Flamingo Park during the Republican convention in 1972.

The CP rules: No weapons in personal possession, no acts of violence, no espionage, no drugs or alcohol, no homosexuality. Only political work, influencing the direction of the anti-war movement and influencing public opinion.

Soon, though, I realized I was not a Stalinist. I could not subscribe to the puritanical communist ethics and the one-party system. I handed in my little matchbook-size red party book, and the county committee granted a reluctant release.

I had drifted left in the Sixties, inspired by the Weekly People, a publication of the minuscule Socialist Labor Party. Then I gradually drifted toward the communist vision in the CP's Daily World. I had faith in the belief that an all-out attack on capitalism, feudalism, and theocracy was needed, and that during this attack we had to act as one army under one commander: the all-knowing communist leadership in Moscow. Then in 1978 I saw a headline in the Miami Herald: "A Pope from Poland!" In that instant I got goose bumps and said to myself: "If a Catholic pope can emerge after 30 years of Soviet supervision in Poland, then the Soviets failed and were doomed."

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