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
Miami

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."

Today I subscribe to democratic multiparty elections, as in Europe, and to a humane social and economic structure, as in Scandinavia. As for the United States, it is hopeless in many aspects: political, social, cultural. As for Cuba, I think it should be permitted to ease into a democratic, multiparty system with freedom of expression, and it should retain its social ideals and its cultural autonomy. As for the Socialist Workers Party in Miami, they have a clean record and play an important role in the movement toward the emergence of a genuine multiparty system in the United States.

Ron Mally
Sunny Isles

The Graham Conspiracy
Now let's turn DeFede loose on that weirdness at Area 51: Despite Jim DeFede's speculations in "Collision Course"(November 23), I doubt that Sen. Bob Graham favors a commercial airport at Homestead solely out of a desire to protect his family's interests in Miami Lakes. Report after report has indicated that Opa-locka Airport is not a suitable alternative to the Homestead site for various reasons, including lack of space for expansion, potentially "competing" flight paths with MIA and Fort Lauderdale, and the fact that about 80,000 human beings live practically next door to it.

Report after report also has indicated that the Homestead airport will not have a negative impact on the surrounding national parks. Let's face reality here. The supposed alternative plan [known as the Collier-Hoover plan] is not going to provide the economic boost the airport will. Tourists are not going to flock to Homestead to play golf or stay at a hotel, nor will business people flock there to set up an office. The airport will provide thousands more jobs. Not only that, but the airport will provide many more better-paying jobs than will the Collier-Hoover plan. People working for airports and airlines generally earn much more money than those working in hotels as maids and desk clerks.

As it is, airplanes fly in and out of MIA right over the Everglades, and I don't see any so-called environmentalists railing against that. These folks are such hypocrites. If they care so much about the environment, why don't they do the single most important thing they can do to save it: Give up their private cars and use public transportation. Cars, not airplanes, are the true polluters as far as transportation is concerned. Yes, airplanes are noisy, but are the crocodiles, anhingas, and egrets going to go deaf? No. So on with Homestead Regional Airport, or whatever the name will be!

Richard D. Rodriguez
Miami Lakes

HABDI, a Paragon of Inclusiveness
Fred can't wait to get his job offer: Most citizens living in South Miami-Dade are rethinking the real intent of the airport proposed by Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc. (HABDI), which received a no-bid development contract from the Miami-Dade County Commission. The true answer is in Jim DeFede's sidebar to "Collision Course," titled "Who Owns HABDI?"

It is obvious that some powerful Cubans are behind it. As has been proven many times in recent history, the potential benefits -- thousands of jobs -- will be only for those who are bilingual and from a preferred place. We should discard any development idea that will benefit just one segment of our community at the expense of others.

Fred Millan
Miami

The Illegals: 38 and Counting
Here's how to turn an eyesore into a cash cow: Kirk Nielsen's article "Packed, Stacked, and Hijacked"(November 23) seems to have counted only the number of illegal billboard poles. Some of those poles hold two or more billboards.

On a recent trip up I-95 while scanning the I-195 and SR 836 expressways, I counted a total of exactly 38 illegal billboards (plus the ten legal ones) up to the Miami city limits, wherein the visual pollution ceased. This does not include the illegal Hampton Inn sign (SW Seventeenth Road and Third Avenue) or the beer ad draping the 79th Street Days Inn.

This amounts to the construction and erection of one illegal billboard every month in the city along the I-95 corridor during these last three years of city government. Also please note that when driving up this expressway, you are forced to spot a billboard every six seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour.

Most important, the city penalty for illegal billboards is $150 per day for each illegal sign. That would amount to the City of Miami taking in a whopping $2,136,000 per year that would help to decrease the payments of the highest-property-taxed residents in Miami-Dade County. When the city commissioners were informed about these facts at the September public budget hearing, not one elected official expressed interest in enforcing our zoning laws.

Don Deresz
Miami

Choreographer: 10 Role Model: 0
Has Suzy Stone left you a voice-mail message lately? Several years ago, at the end of a Hip Hop Kidz dance class, I handed director Suzy Stone an envelope, which I am sure she thought was her monthly tuition check. In fact it contained a two-page letter of withdrawal on behalf of my daughter from the Hip Hop Kidz Performance Troupe. I made it clear no response was needed, but by the time I arrived home, there were two screaming messages on my answering machine. Recently I saw Ms. Stone at a distance, and she went out of her way to let me know that the "kidz" were doing great since we left.

Within weeks of that encounter I read Robert Andrew Powell's article about the Hip Hop Kidz ("Her Brilliant Career,"November 9), which included many photos. I rolled my eyes in exasperation as I recognized that my daughter's picture appeared to have been cropped from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade photo. (I have a copy of this photo in an album.) I am suspicious as to why a woman who claims to love children might purposely remove a picture of one of them.

No one will deny that Ms. Stone is a great choreographer, but a role model she is not. I still believe it is not the children she loves so much but rather the income they provide. As another ex-Hip Hop mom said to me: "It's a shame we didn't know about the article. What stories we could tell!"

Mary Steele
Miami

Editor's note: New Times cropped the Macy's parade photograph, not Suzy Stone. Design constraints prevented all the children from being included. Our apologies to any kids who were left out.

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