Letters to the Editor

From the issue of March 29, 2001

  If You See Her Comin', Better Step Aside
Heaven help the fool who crosses Estrella Rubio: Jacob Bernstein's story about Cuban political activist Estrella Rubio ("The Autumn of the Matriarch," March 22) shocked me, in part because I met her just two weeks ago at a radio station. I saw this frail old lady who had people hovering around her, clinging to her every word. I wondered who she was (I am unfamiliar with local politics) and what role she played in Miami.

After asking several people, I received this response: She is the main person in Miami, the backbone in the next City of Miami mayoral election. She is the giver and the taker of all those she has helped to be elected. How can one elderly person be so powerful? The answer is simple. She is Estrella Rubio, a woman with a history (which I've now learned, thanks to your story) of helping Miami's exiles.

I feel like a political infant compared to Estrella. She is without a doubt a fighter. After last week's Miami-Dade County Republican Party meeting, I was asked to give Estrella a ride home. She was very upset (to say the least) with party chairwoman Mary Ellen Miller for not allowing Carlos Salman to become honorary chairman. She was madder than a stuck pig. During the twenty-minute ride, she cursed and cursed and said words that only a man would say. I dare not repeat them. They would make a sailor blush.

God help the person she is against. All those who oppose her will soon feel the wrath of Estrella.

Frank Serra

The Joy of Reading
Yes, even when it's DeFede hammering on our clueless, ignorant, disgraceful elected officials: It is always a joy to read Jim DeFede's columns, especially when, like "Strike Three" (March 22), they are about Miami-Dade County government. It's sad and disgraceful to hear about our elected officials. Instead of representing the citizens, they represent themselves and their interest in how much money can get into their pockets. They not only appear to be ignorant and egotistical (which they are), the reality is they have no clue what they are doing.

Steve Shiver never should have been appointed to the position of county manager, but of course our intelligent board of county commissioners accepted him after Mayor Penelas chose him. Because of them, Greater Miami always looks irresponsible and incompetent. Case in point: suing the federal government over Homestead Air Force Base.

Frankly I do not want my tax money to be spent in litigation with the government, which is going to be a fruitless endeavor. The commission still has not worked out the problems at Miami International Airport, and that doesn't look like it's going to be resolved any time soon. Plus the airport's remodeling budget keeps going up.

We are in fact a banana republic. And trust me, it is not because of all the Cubans who live here. It's our politicians.

J. Prieto

It Must Be Something in the Air
And judging from commissioners' cuckoo conduct, it must be wickedly powerful: Anyone who watched the March 8 county commission meeting described by Jim DeFede in "Strike Three," at which County Manager Steve Shiver lied to buttress Mayor Penelas's goal of suing the U.S. Air Force for blocking a commercial airport in Homestead, must be wondering what the heck is going on. That is a timely question.

We keep asking for accountability from our public officials, but we don't get it. At county hall it's possible this is on account of unexamined, external factors. Something is making our county commissioners seem like drunken idiots. Could it be an undetected gas, possibly propelled through their microphones as they lean in to speak, rendering them senseless? They seem engaged, but they are under the influence. They let the new county manager lie to one of their fellow commissioners and did not challenge him. They did not ask for an explanation of his lie. They did not get up and storm out. They sat there passively, as if in a drugged stupor. And then they voted to sue the federal government.

What a grandiose idea: The county sues the air force over property it doesn't even control. This is so egregiously preposterous the county's inspector general should immediately order carpenters to rip apart the dais so forensic chemists can check for a clear, odorless gas.

Watch a commission meeting carefully, and you'll see that each commissioner and the manager have use of a personal telephone while on the dais -- perhaps to receive words of encouragement from supporters, or to see if their children have done their homework, or to find out if their checks have cleared. Could it be that the telephone mouthpieces contain miniature canisters of delirium gas? Maybe they're activated when the headset is lifted from the cradle, sending out a fine mist and making the speakers instantly dumb.

It's possible that some commissioners have built up a delirium-gas immunity over the long years they've held their seats, but County Manager Shiver is so new and fresh, he was instantly overcome. He didn't know who he was up there. Mayor of Homestead? Manager of Miami-Dade County? The Cat in the Hat?

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