Letters to the Editor

From the issue of January 25, 2001

 Knight Ridder Confidential Action Report #01-47
Miami simpleton strategy exceeds projections; prepare to roll out in all KR Latin markets: I stopped getting the Miami Herald because it neither understands nor represents me. And I don't read El Nuevo Herald despite having free daily access to it and being part of its target audience. As Jacob Bernstein reported ("Sex! Sin! Sensation!" January 11), El Nuevo Herald merely tries to get my business through pandering. Besides that, both papers have the same parent, Knight Ridder, and I don't go for good cop-bad cop routines.

Still I respect El Nuevo Herald editor Carlos Castañeda's brazen candor more than the pious but hollow platitudes of others in his position. In any case he's just doing what he was hired to do, and his superiors are obviously pleased with his performance. If there was ever any question of high-minded journalism, which is doubtful, the profit motive was clearly far stronger. Maybe Knight Ridder feels Hispanics are too stupid to realize they're being sold shoddy goods.

I find it very odd that your article highlights the Venezuelan-backed El Diario, a struggling newcomer that may not survive, yet never once mentions the Diario Las Americas, which has been around for nearly half a century and is a respected institution within the Spanish-speaking community. Unless he simply didn't do his homework, Mr. Bernstein cannot be unaware of that, yet he ignored it. Why? Diario Las Americas, in my opinion, has considerably more integrity than El Nuevo Herald because it is based on the courage of its convictions, not some contrived marketing strategy that is largely about making money.

I regret that the local newspaper situation is no better, but it won't change as long as enough people keep buying papers just because they're there. I don't.

Beatriz Lopez
Miami

I Remember the Days When One Took Pride in Being an MDCC Faculty Member
Yes, that was before Padron: I am responding to Gaspar González's story about Miami-Dade Community College district president Eduardo Padron and the MDCC Foundation ("Power Play," January 4). I have been retired for about four years after having taught at the college for nearly 35 years. I was proud to be a member of the faculty. As you know, back in the Seventies MDCC was judged to be the best community college in the United States. Former president Robert McCabe acknowledged that the faculty played a significant part in achieving such an esteemed position in academia.

One can no longer make that statement. The quality of life there has deteriorated. The faculty's reward has been a steady erosion of academic freedom and of their economic base. Two years ago 70 percent of the faculty chose to have a union represent them because Eduardo Padron refused to acknowledge the role and value of the faculty. Now as payback Padron has violated numerous established policies and rights of the faculty it took 30 years to develop and establish.

As a result fear reigns. Although 70 percent of the faculty voted for the union (that should tell you something about the grievances), working conditions are so tense that some members of the faculty have simply withdrawn, have refused to get involved because of potential repercussions.

You have heard the expression "one step forward, two steps backward" in reference to progress. In this case the faculty was forced to take three steps backward and are now working to take one step forward. For instance, the faculty senate has disappeared, and its historical role to provide advice and consent is no more. The psychological, educational, biological, and other abstracts, which have been used in research for years, have been trashed, depriving both faculty and students of a vital educational tool.

I find it difficult to comprehend how Padron and his minions can cause such disruption without some recourse. The faculty and union appear to be powerless in countering these negative actions. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has placed sanctions against Miami-Dade Community College because of these documented abuses, which considers them to be serious infractions of academic freedom.

Gabriel Read
Avon Park, Florida

Padron? No Surprise There
More tales of MDCC await: I enjoyed Gaspar González's article, but sadly I am not surprised. As a faculty member at Miami-Dade Community College I know what has been happening in the academic arm of the institution for the last few years. You might be interested in writing a companion article on that topic.

Name Withheld by Request
via the Internet

Portman Pooh-Poohs Park Proponents' Position
Miami is not Manhattan and back yards work better than waterfront parks: I can't help but get annoyed every time I hear someone tell us we must not have a baseball stadium in Bicentennial Park because it should be used as park space, and as reader Peter Rabbino put it: "Every great city has a great urban park" ("Letters," January 4). It seems these people simply don't understand the nature of Miami compared to other great cities, or what the effect of having a stadium in that area downtown would be.

To put it in a nutshell, Miami is not an "urban" city. By that I mean we are not like New York City or Chicago or London, where a great deal of the population lives in a congested urban center with little access to the outdoors other than through their parks. In Miami, similar to Los Angeles, we live in essentially a series of suburbs where most people have back yards, or in condos with waterfronts. Even in Miami's poorer areas, most housing still has access to yards or common areas that are outdoors.

We don't have vast high-rises with no place to go, and where we do have high-rises -- Brickell, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach -- those high-rises are have access to the water and beaches. A city like New York needs Central Park because the residents can't sun themselves or exercise in their own back yards. Additionally, and just as important, Miami is primarily an automobile-oriented city. To get to Central Park one needs only to walk a few blocks or take a short subway ride. To get to Bicentennial Park, one needs to get in his car to drive, and if I'm in my car driving to a park, I can drive to one of countless beaches in the area, or to the Everglades, or to Fairchild Tropical Garden, or to Key Biscayne, or Coconut Grove.

Thus, faced with the options available, the sunshine daydream of families spending the day by the bay would be supplanted by the gritty reality of a park overrun by crack addicts and bums (sorry: the homeless), a possible chance to revitalize an urban area lost.

There are other complaints leveled against the baseball stadium as well. First, a stadium would create jobs, and not just during the short-term rush of construction. Once open a stadium requires personnel to run its operations and vending. Granted selling beer and hot dogs isn't the greatest job in the world, compared to, say, being a rock star, but it is a job, and it is a job within easy reach of workers from Overtown and Liberty City and Little Havana.

Second, traffic is often cited as a problem. My response: Look at a schedule, stupid. The Marlins in 2000 had 55 home games during the week (obviously weekend games are a moot point on traffic issues), and of those only five were day games (at 4:00 p.m.), one of which was July 4. Thus even with the current schedule there would only be four days with trouble, and I doubt anyone with the Marlins would have any objection to night games on those days if it meant having a new stadium in which to play. The night games start at 7:00 p.m., so the rush-hour traffic would be inbound and not interfere with people going home from work, and the outbound traffic would not start until 10:00 p.m.

Third, critics often grouse that this public money should be used in other ways to benefit the poor. As I understand the deal, this is money that wouldn't go to the poor in any case. An added benefit, though, would be the creation of secondary businesses that would generate jobs and direct taxes that could help the poor.

It's this last area that's often misunderstood. People point to the Miami Arena and say it didn't create a revitalization, so why would a stadium? The best example would be to look to Baltimore, which did have a renaissance in a blighted area following the building of a baseball park. Why? Because a baseball stadium is a much different creature than an arena. There are about 80 home games over the course of six months every year, as opposed to far fewer games for basketball or hockey over a shorter time period. With that many games there are more opportunities for surrounding business owners to make money, and thus a greater incentive to open a business, and even more so when taking into consideration the American Airlines Arena and performing arts center nearby. It's not difficult to envision a rich urban center flowing from Miami's three adjoining showpieces.

Finally it's important to remember that a far larger portion of the community would benefit from a baseball stadium than from the arts center or arena. Currently ticket prices for baseball range from just a few dollars to $20 for excellent seats. Basketball or arts events simply cannot be seen by the poor, whereas a baseball game in an accessible stadium is a feasible proposition for just about anyone. Just picture it: It's 6:00 p.m. in downtown Miami a few years from now. Young professionals are ordering drinks from local bars as they gather after work and before the game. Families are finishing meals from restaurants they can afford to go to, as they spent less than $40 for four seats. Rather than clearing out at 5:00 p.m. downtown is bustling with energy and excitement as fans get ready to see their Marlins and enjoy a night out in our great city with the money left in their pocket after seeing the game.

Or we can picture an empty downtown, a ghost town, as workers flee for the night. Which Miami would you rather see? While parks are wonderful, please do not make the mistake of misunderstanding our city and its environs. When was the last time you drove downtown to take a walk in Bayside Park?

Errol Portman
Coral Gables

Don't Miss This Investment Opportunity!
Limited stadium bond offering -- place your order now: Regarding plans for a new baseball stadium, if building a sports arena made good business sense, wouldn't companies be flocking to issue their own bonds, build it themselves, and keep all the profits? Of course they would. Hey, even I would.

But team owners know that the money isn't in the ownership of a stadium but the sale of the luxury suites. And that is why you are being asked to pay for a new stadium.

While we're on the topic, why don't we have our current teams sign 99-year leases?

Rob Cardwell
via the Internet

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