Letters to the Editor

From the issue of December 21, 2000

Elections the Miami Way
The Electoral College of the Americas sets the standard: I really enjoyed "Professionalism in Politics" (December 14) and the Electoral College of the Americas. Indeed we should take Miami's political culture to a national level, as you suggest. Perhaps the nation could see to it that we have a magician who could use his Ouija board to interpret voters' thoughts. After all, we presently have so-called pregnant chads that were never penetrated and yet they're being called votes. Seems to me I recall back in the 1800s, when our Catholic Church explained the creed of our Virgin Mary, conceived free from sin, the non-Catholics of the world made fun and laughed at us about the doctrine of Immaculate Conception.

Now we announce the doctrine of the Immaculate Election, "conceived" without intent. Funny, but I don't hear too much laughing.

Dead people, people with no addresses, nonresidents, and more: Shall we all vote together? Yes, America, follow in Miami-Dade County's footsteps.

Ronald Rickey
Miami Beach

Truth the DeFede Way
Not to be confused with the 1 Herald Plaza invertebrate way: This letter is in response to Jim DeFede's article, An Uneasy Alliance" (December 7), about how Alex Penelas is working with Republicans to create a strong-mayor county government so he can run for mayor again. As usual Mr. DeFede has shown us readers the real angles of the politicians. The Miami Herald can't do that because none of their reporters have spines.

Note to Jim: Forget about any Christmas cards from the mayor's office.

Please keep telling us the real truth, not the truth the politicians tell the Herald to print.

Love and kisses from the cheap seats.

And by the way, Carlos Lacasa will become mayor of Miami-Dade County the day after I get breast implants!

Tommy Hawk
Miami

A Mayor for All the People
Well, for all the people of a certain background: Congratulations to Jim DeFede on his intelligence, investigative reporting, and patience in continuously trying to get the truth across in this banana republic. New Times is a pleasure to read.

Some people are so stubborn in their ignorance and so easy to manipulate that they believe Alex Penelas is the mayor of our whole community. They forget that he sided with one community, ignoring the rest, and that he had the audacity to defy the very nature and purpose of his position.

It's entertaining to find out just how shallow and blind some people are.

George S. Jones
via the Internet

Message to Penelas Supporters
Insert lemon, extract juice: I can't believe what I've been reading in the "Letters" section about Jim DeFede's articles on Mayor Penelas, "An Uneasy Alliance" and "The Dead-End Kid"(November 16). I must be living in la-la land! How could anyone defend the mayor as if he'd done nothing wrong? One reader wrote that Gore is viewed as Clinton's man, and since Cuban Americans tend to hate Clinton after the Elian Gonzalez saga, there was nothing Penelas could do about it. Oh, please!

In fact Gore opposed sending Elian back to Cuba. Even if he did that just to get Cuban votes, Penelas could've persuaded his own people to look the other way and vote for Gore, and so perhaps seal the deal in Miami-Dade County. But he didn't. Not only did Penelas turn his back on his own party, he turned his back on many Anglos and African Americans and maybe even Jewish Americans in Miami-Dade.

As for those readers who have criticized DeFede, I say go buy a rotten old lemon and suck on it. Penelas is a fraud. Period.

Jerry Brown
Miami

G. Holmes Braddock in Three Words
Codger, jerk, moron: While reading Rebecca Wakefield's story about the Miami-Dade County school board and the idea of an ethics commission for it ("Listen Here, You Boneheads, We Ain't Broke So Don't Try and Fix Us," December 7), I was taken aback by that doddering old codger, the retiring (but not soon enough!) G. Holmes Braddock.

His comments about "the public" (who stupidly re-elected this jerk time after time) were outrageous. As one who holds the public in such low esteem, it is no wonder he probably served them so poorly over the years. He even told the gathering of interested folks regarding ethics: "Who knows what right is? As far as I'm concerned, only one person knew what's right, and he got nailed to a cross." Talk about religious egomania. Didn't Mohammed, Moses, the Dalai Lama, and other religious prophets know what "right" was? Or is Braddock's messiah the only true answer to everlasting salvation? Talk about a small-minded moron!

Too bad we have to pay Braddock's pension. It's money thrown down a rat hole.

Harvey Slavin
Hollywood

Let Me Tell You About Socialism
It's not that ugly thing south of Key West: In response to Brett Sokol's two-part "Kulchur" column about Miami's Socialist Workers Party ("Socialism or Suntan," November 30 and December 7), it needs to be said often these days that socialism has nothing to do with communism. Cubans in Cuba literally don't know what socialism is. Too many of them wrongly think it involves repression of liberty and property and the principles embodied in our U.S. Bill of Rights.

Ben Jimenez
Miami

Grandpa Knows Best
Muzzle this unwholesome moral sludge with a beat! As I read the letterfrom DanceSafe executive director Emanuel Sferios (December 7), I found myself wondering what he thinks is his real mission in life. He gets all excited over splitting hairs about the degrees of harm being done by different drugs but admits that we will never eradicate recreational drug use from our communities. On this point I agree. So then what about eliminating the venues where these activities are prevalent?

It's my belief, as a grandfather of fourteen, that kids today already spend too much time listening to music, playing video games, and watching TV. Once they're old enough to go out at night, the focus changes. Dancing takes on a new and often unnecessary importance. Much of the music being propagated these days is of a basically unwholesome nature. Too much emphasis on angst, death, and anarchy is often found in techno pop and Goth. A great percentage of rap lyrics are filthy, degrading, and illiterate. And to think your child is "safe" in such a disgusting mix of moral sludge. How would Mr. Sferios like his daughter to date Marilyn Manson?

Most high school kids get up early. I have five fifteen-year-old grandkids, and they all head out to school at 7:00 a.m. Staying out till the wee small hours and enduring all the temptations Mr. Sferios describes in his misplaced efforts only serves to screw up a kid's body rhythms and make attention to school more difficult. We're already running behind much of the world in comparative education scores. I don't see the rave lifestyle making a positive contribution to our national good. Mostly it provides an income for rave promoters who've found a way to access a kid's spendable income without the background checks that would follow applications for a liquor license. In short we don't know who these people are.

Emanuel Sferios's energy and enthusiasm to help young people might be better utilized if he started an organization called studysmart.org and let the parents of all these dance-crazed teenagers take more control over the safety of their own kids!

John E. Brown
Miami

A Star Is Born at Howard Johnson's
Gaspar is his name and fame is his game: Congratulations to Gaspar González. His article "Can't Play It Again, Sam"(November 30) was fabulous. I enjoyed his description of the bar, the people, and the situations at the place I work, the Roof Top Lounge at the Howard Johnson's on Alton Road in Miami Beach. It was exciting to be mentioned by a good writer like him.

All the customers were talking about how good his article was. He impressed us. I wish him very good luck, which is the only one thing he needs. He already has lots of talent.

On that Friday night, the star of the Roof Top Lounge was Gaspar González.

Maria Lara
Hialeah Gardens

Even Though I'm from Wisconsin, Let Me Tell You What I Think
I think DeFede belongs on the radio: I want to thank Jim DeFede for his fine article "Collision Course" (November 23). It did a great job of defining the environmental, business, and political dynamics surrounding the controversial proposal for a commercial airport at Homestead Air Force Base.

I am strongly opposed to the creation of an airport on this former air base and will do everything in my power to voice my opinion and persuade others to adopt a similar position.

I do hope Jim will someday write a book on this fascinating subject and be a guest on our Wisconsin public radio.

Stephen Koermer
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Nader Supporter Justifies Self
Guess what? I will not accept responsibility if something bad happens: In his letter responding to "Collision Course," Chris Fulmer of Homestead states that if the airport gets developed, the idealists who voted for Ralph Nader will have only themselves to blame. His logic escapes me. Nader opposed the development. Gore refused to oppose it. How can voting for a candidate who opposes something make one responsible if it happens anyway?

Mr. Fulmer seems to be saying that voters should not concern themselves with issues, especially in cases where the major candidates more or less agree, but should always vote for one of the majors because only one of them can "win."

In this scenario, which seems to dominate U.S. voter thinking these days, the real winners are always the sponsors of the major candidates, and the real losers are always the voters themselves.

Tom Crumpacker
Miami Beach

Writer Produces Brilliant Article
Reader demands salary boost: Susan Eastman's "Why Not Hit 'Em Where It Hurts?"(October 19) is an excellent, brilliant article. She should get a raise. I fully agree that a test case should be brought to stick it to owners of condemned tenement buildings and encumber their properties until the judgment is paid. If the suit fails (or even if it succeeds), state and local elected officials should get off their butts and enact a statute or ordinance that expressly grants to local governments and displaced tenants broad compensatory and punitive remedies against such landowners and their properties. In egregious cases the government should have the right to seize the property and declare a forfeiture, just as it seizes property used in criminal activities.

No one in his right mind could support the status quo, which seems to punish everyone but the perpetrators.

Joseph Currier Brock
Miami Beach

Writer Produces Myopically One-Sided Pinko Article
Reader demands salary justification: In her story "Why Not Hit 'Em Where It Hurts?" Susan Eastman takes a one-sided, socialistic, myopic position. She assumes that the owners of these buildings are all fat cats living large, that the tenants are just innocent victims, and that the city and state governments are there to help. Charles Dickens and Karl Marx would be proud of Ms. Eastman's literary work.

If she had really investigated the true culprits, she might find something more insidious to blame. Taxes and regulations are the real culprits. In the City of Miami, rental-property owners are saddled with the highest millage rate allowed by the state, a fire fee ($75 per unit annually), a garbage fee (twenty percent on top of what you pay a private hauler to take your trash), an occupational license fee, and a lot more. So much more, in fact, that the city makes the Gambino crime family look like the Girl Scouts. Throw into this equation an incompetent and uncooperative building department and add the fact that most of the tenants in these buildings are on fixed incomes and can't afford to pay any more rent, plus a rampant drug problem, and what you have is a recipe for disaster like the one described in the article.

It's easy and doesn't take much investigative skill or journalistic integrity to blame the property owners, the so-called slumlords. It takes a lot more work to get to the true culprit in this case. May I suggest Ms. Eastman earn her pay, pick up her notepad, and head back out to Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Haiti and get all the sides to this story.

Emiliano Antunez
Miami

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