Letters to the Editor

From the issue of September 13, 2000

Emilio: Convenient Target
Free weekly nukes another Cuban success story: I've got to hand it to New Times. You certainly don't discriminate among Cuban Americans. You go after Cuban politicians, businesses, athletes, and now musicians like Emilio Estefan ("Los Producers," September 6). If only your own biases and insecurities wouldn't get in the way, one day you might do an objective article on something Cuban. I don't know what your newspaper would be like if not for Cubans. You'd have nothing to write about.

Unlike any of the entertainers, singers, and musicians Celeste Fraser Delgado mentioned in her article, Emilio Estefan started from the ground up. He literally started his empire (worth more than $350 million today) with little money from any outside source. He has done it without scandal for more than 25 years and has maintained a beautiful relationship with his wife and family in an industry that is full of drugs, sex, tragedy, and obviously envy. He has spawned so much "Cuban-Hispanic culture" in mainstream America that he should be admired by all groups.

Mr. Estefan, I applaud you for your humble background, business skills, and keeping to your roots through good and bad times. When you reach a level of success as you have, there will always be plenty of piranhas and envious people trying to bring you down. The continual attempts by New Times and other media outlets in South Florida to bring you down parallel their constant efforts to also bring down and divide the Cuban community. Owing to our significant economic prosperity and rich culture, the media must find some way of criticizing Cuban exiles. So they are left to attacking notable figures in our community and our zealousness toward a free Cuba.

Ms. Delgado's article failed to mention what Kike Santander and others who have worked for Emilio Estefan and then left have in common. They all came to Emilio, as opposed to the other way around. They all were unknown prior to being associated with him. In an industry where appearances matter, this association and exposure is priceless.

Mr. Santander, Emilio gave you your big break, as he has done for many others. Sure he also has prospered from that, but you knew that going in. It's a business. Your exposure to him and what you have learned from him, if applied correctly, will bring you much financial wealth in the future, as it has already. If not for him, your career may have not developed and today you might have been picking coffee beans in Colombia as bombs explode in nearby fields. It is obvious he has done more for you than vice versa.

Apparently you have a contract with him through the year 2002, no different from an athlete with a professional sports team. Be a man, honor the contract, and then go out on your own with the knowledge and contacts you have acquired through him.

This case will probably settle out of court, and you two will shake hands in front of the media. I wonder if you will last as long as Emilio Estefan has, and how soon it will be before a young songwriter employed by you acquires your knowledge and contacts and then files a lawsuit against you. Life is ironic.

Juan Gonzalez
Miami

Emilio: Career Crasher?
Free the Chirino sisters! I've been waiting for a CD from the Chirino sisters for about two years now, after seeing them perform at the Rhythm Room and Señor Frog's. My itsy-bitsy, one-man record label, Sheikin Records, could have racked, packed, and sent those ladies out on tour a long time ago. So whoever is holding them back is costing them millions in sales and radio royalties.

There must be some other element missing from Celeste Fraser Delgado's story regarding the real deal there: family money, beauty, musical abilities. Ever hear of the Osmonds? Why do these ladies from Miami's Cuban wealth need outside money? Strange.

Al Reyes
Miami

Lincoln Road: Where the Elite Meet
Good riddance to the execrable beggars and hawkers: After reading Juan Carlos Rodriguez's article about Lincoln Road ("Strike Up the Bland," September 6), I wanted to relate this story: Last month I received a campaign solicitation letter from Miami Beach Commissioner Nancy Liebman in her run for Beach mayor. I informed her that I will not vote for her because as a commissioner, along with all the other commissioners, she voted to bureaucratize and severely limit the self-employed artists, vendors, and performers who have adopted Lincoln Road as a venue for their expression and fledgling attempts at capitalist ventures.

She e-mailed me back, stating that the commission was trying to separate the "true artists" from the "commercial beggars and hawkers." I gleaned from this not only an elitist attitude among commissioners and some Lincoln Road merchants but an official frown upon anything that might freely compete with their essentially closed and high-rent fiefdom.

The losers in this will include not only those artists, artisans, and performers who are literally disenfranchised, but everyone who visits Lincoln Road who now will be denied the freedom to choose from among a variety of entertainments.

I suggest that we voters reassess our commission and mayoral candidates according to this issue, which reveals where our values lie. Shame on the City of Miami Beach.

David Melvin Thornburgh
Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Where Good Taste Prevails
Many thanks for hacking out the scruff: Lincoln Road was a quirky, funny, unpredictable place until Nancy Liebman and her commission colleagues took a meat ax to it. Yes, there was some abuse of space, particularly among certain vendors. But they added color and pizzazz, and the performers were a delight. Unfortunately they did not conform to Liebman's definition of "good taste," which in recent years has seemed to embrace large hotels, towering high-rises, and chain stores.

I'm glad to hear that some of the vendors and performers are considering a lawsuit. In New York City, Mayor Giuliani and his crew have been waging war against street vendors and performers. The vendors outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art have been a particular target. They have been fighting back in court and have won every legal round so far.

I hope ours follow suit. I'm sure they'll have no problem mopping up the courtroom floor with our overpaid, overstaffed, and generally incompetent city attorney's office. Then perhaps the city will consider reasonable, harassment-free procedures to keep the fun in Lincoln Road while avoiding the unreasonable blocking of public space.

Richard H. Rosichan
Miami Beach

Digital Intrigue: Omissions and Inaccuracies
Is that the sound of an ax being ground? I believe several points should be made clear in response to Jim DeFede's article "Digital Intrigue"(August 30). Some obvious omissions indicate that the journalist has an ax to grind.

The first allegation is that Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver tried to hide the Oracle-contract agenda item in the contract-modifications section of the agenda. Not true. In fact, as plainly told to Mr. DeFede twice, confusion resulted from internal communication problems. The placement of items in the department of procurement management section of the agenda is a department responsibility and was placed there by the department. As it was a modification to the existing county contract with Oracle Corporation, that seemed both logical and appropriate.

The foul-up occurred because for some reason the county attorney did not see the entire procurement item until the morning of the meeting. This was a flaw in our staffing process. It was assumed the attorney saw the entire procurement package, but he saw only the bid-waiver section. In fact this was a contract modification, but it was also technically a bid waiver. I have learned that other people Mr. DeFede interviewed gave him the same facts, yet those were ignored in the article.

A second but related point concerns the approach to procuring these financial applications. The intent from the beginning was to seek appropriate vendors already on state term contracts or other contracts with whom we could legally negotiate. We have used this approach successfully on several of the nine other CIO working groups. It is an approach especially well suited for information-technology projects and is routinely used nationally. Virtually every commission meeting has examples of already negotiated state contracts being approved for information-technology projects.

The third point to clarify concerns the statement that, without consulting PeopleSoft, the working group decided to add to the company's proposal the cost of the most expensive database. In fact when e-Verge Group and PeopleSoft submitted cost information, it included costs for the Oracle database licenses but omitted the price information for the ongoing (five-year) maintenance support of those licenses and fees for the Oracle Performance Management Pack. The company was contacted about this. Those costs that were omitted were imputed at the county's discount prices, which are below what is normally available on the market. This is the fairest way to get the true costs we could devise. It was not artificial, as Mr. DeFede's article stated. Pricing was addressed three separate times with both companies.

These and other points were thoroughly discussed with Mr. DeFede. I was disappointed that some were omitted from the story or not accurately portrayed.

B.R. Witt, chief information officer
Miami-Dade County

Jim DeFede replies: Regarding Mr. Witt's first point, I would remind him of his own words as quoted in my story: "The county attorney recommended that we do it as a separate contract and a bid waiver. And we were marching along that line and then we took it up to the manager and it was his decision to turn it into a contract modification." That was the key moment in this saga. Once Steve Shiver made that decision, then yes, Witt is correct. The actual placing of the item on the agenda was a department responsibility.

Are there people in county government who believe Shiver's decision was an attempt to hide the contract? Yes, there are. And while I could not identify them by name because they fear losing their jobs, they do exist.

Piggybacking onto existing contracts may have been done before, but as Commissioner Katy Sorenson pointed out during the meeting, rarely has it been done on a contract worth at least $9 million and perhaps as much as $30 million.

As to Witt's third point, I stand by the statement that PeopleSoft was not shown the numbers arbitrarily added to their costs. They only discovered these additions after the manager recommended Oracle. Witt's own committee referred to PeopleSoft numbers as "worst case" because committee members knew they were artificially high and that PeopleSoft's actual price would probably be much lower.

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