Letters to the Editor

From the issue of January 18, 2001

The most devastating remark I would make against El Nuevo Herald is this: It is not at all a Latin-American publication. It is the printed version of Radio Martí.

J. Sodeman

Editor's note: Based on information provided by El Nuevo Herald director and editor Carlos Castañeda, staff writer Jacob Bernstein's article stated that El Nuevo operated with a profit margin greater than the Miami Herald's. That assertion has been challenged by Herald executives, who claim that Castañeda's newspaper enjoys the financial advantage of having much of its overhead borne by the Herald. Castañeda responds that he is quoting from official reports.

Padron: The Manager as Manipulator
He has the naive, inexperienced board of trustees he wants: In his letter to the editor, Mr. Bob Martinez expressed his disappointment with the "Padron power grab" article written by Gaspar González ("Power Play," January 4), which referenced my remarks before the Miami-Dade Community College board of trustees on December 7. In his letter Mr. Martinez also refers to some aspects of the article as being "just plain wrong." For the record not a single member of the board, including MDCC district president Eduardo Padron, challenged my remarks, nor did Dr. Padron answer the questions I addressed to him.

Rather than respond to Mr. Martinez, I would remind him of the remarks made to him during the MDCC Foundation's recent audit process by the audit partner: Why are you acting as Dr. Padron's defense attorney when you as chairman of the board of trustees should be listening as an independent person and encouraging us to do our work rather than challenging our work as you have repeatedly done? These remarks are again applicable to Mr. Martinez.

The article did not mention Mr. Martinez by name, because Mr. González did not include confidential comments I made to him relating to the college's management problems at the board of trustees level, which Mr. Martinez chairs. The basic problem is that, for the first time in recent history, all members of the board of trustees changed simultaneously. As a result the current board suffers from a steep learning curve that, without the assistance of a permanent staff (such as that at the state university system's Board of Regents), there is a huge "governance vacuum." It will take years before the governance of MDCC is at a par with the previous board of trustees, led by Mr. Martin Fine.

Of course no one can say Dr. Padron is neither smart nor astute. So as might be expected, he has very ably filled that vacuum to manage (manipulate?) the board of trustees to his advantage. Mr. Martinez and others on the board are well-meaning citizens who want to do the right thing, but they have been placed in a situation in which they cannot effectively govern an entity with a $200-million budget, five campuses, and more than 6000 employees. Even if any of the members of the board came to the table with prior direct experience in a commercial enterprise of similar size (and none of the current board members do), each would have a huge learning curve on governance matters unique to an academic institution and its related foundation.

As an MDCC benefactor of two endowed teaching chairs (one given by me and the other solicited by me from the Philip Morris Company foundation), I will always have an interest in the MDCC Foundation. I can only offer the college and its foundation my very best wishes for success in serving this community.

Juan A. Galan, Jr.
Coral Gables

Let the Digging Begin
But first allow me a gratuitous comparison between Eduardo Padron and Fidel Castro: Thanks to Gaspar González for a wonderful article. New Times should keep digging, because there's so much more to uncover regarding Miami-Dade Community College and Eduardo Padron. (Fidel Castro es un niño de teta compared to Padron.)

Regarding Bob Martinez's letter to the editor: Please, he and Padron are the best of friends. Can Mr. Martinez prove that the allegations in the article are false? No. His letter was just pure rhetoric. Juan Galan is right in what he stated, all of it. I hope New Times does a follow-up story with everything that's happening. Documents are available. You just need to ask for them as they are public.

I would also thank Mr. González for vindicating former MDCC Foundation president Sandy Gonzalez-Levy. She was unjustly fired.

I truly wish I could identify myself, but I'm afraid of losing my job at MDCC. That's how things are done at this institution

Name Withheld by Request
via the Internet

School Board Votes to Do the Right Thing!
Well, perhaps sometime in the very, very distant future: I would like to congratulate Rebecca Wakefield for writing such an accurate story regarding the reaction of the Miami-Dade school board toward establishing an ethics commission ("Listen Here, You Boneheads, We Ain't Broke so Don't Try and Fix Us," December 7). Mind you, the recommendation to establish an ethics commission came from a blue-ribbon task force composed of representatives appointed by each school board member!

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