Letters from the Issue of March 21, 2002

The heartless sea claimed the Fantome and crew

Bedzow blames DCC Constructors but fails to point out that he wouldn't pay them on a timely basis. His main tactic would be to stall until they simply took whatever he paid them. Bedzow blames the condo association for not agreeing to fix the north tower's balconies but fails to mention that his plan for testing the repairs was ruled not up to code by Miami-Dade County. His tactic again is to stall until we take whatever plan is on the table.

Dennis Leyva

Miami Beach

Moving in for the Kill

The predatory developer weakens his prey, then leaps: Regarding Sunset Harbour, a favorite ploy often used by developers is finger-pointing and going after contractors, as well as tightening the purse strings to subcontractors to gain leverage and diffuse culpability. These tactics complicate and prolong litigation, which buys time for the developer, enriches lawyers, and financially bleeds subcontractors and condo owners.

If the developer is fortunate to have a legal subsidiary, he can milk pro-bono work out of it to fight his battles. The developer then resorts to propaganda and threats to weaken the resolve of owners while the accusatory finger of guilt is always pointed at their nemesis, a handful of disgruntled association board members whom they blame as the chief impediment to a settlement. As you approach a court date you anticipate closure, until the strategy of delay, mediation, and another dose of procrastination is thrown into the pot as the developer circles his prey, looking for signs of weakness, cracks in unity, divisiveness among board members, and rebellion among owners hit with additional legal assessments.

While all this is going on, the developer voices his tired mantra: "We've been prepared to do it right all along." They are without sin. They have no control over their sales people, who climb high on the tower of Babel in pursuit of promised commissions and are struck down by the curse of doublespeak. We are asked not to believe promotional literature or oral representations but to inspect plans on file with the city to educate ourselves on building methods and materials. In the words of an educated farmer, this is a lot of bovine waste.

Raymond A. Heffron

Miami Beach

Without Claire We'd Be Nowhere

She cultivated that garden till it was in full bloom: Mike Clary's article on the Miami Beach Botanical Garden ("It's a Jungle in Here," February 21) merely glossed over the Arts in the Garden series and the role of conservancy founder Claire Tomlin. Under her leadership this program has presented more than 100 performing groups (local, regional, and international) and dozens of art exhibitions, and turned the garden into a highly sought art venue for Second Thursdays (Miami Beach's monthly free cultural open house) and other cultural programs.

Multiple grants from the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, and the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs attest to her success in turning an abandoned and neglected property into a vibrant community asset.

Pola Reydburd

Miami Beach

Strings Attached: Horrific Imagery

The story may be complicated but the truth is not: I am a huge fan of New Times. I think the work you do is outstanding. But that cover illustration for Gaspar González's article "Strings Attached" (February 21) -- oy vey, as they like to say.

It was glaringly offensive and not that far removed from Jewish illustrations used by the Nazis in their schoolbooks and anti-Jew propaganda. I've looked at the stuff for years and am extremely familiar with the big-nosed, smiling, greedy Jew trying to seduce young German maidens with their pockets full of gold coins. Now, in the 21st Century, they hold a ball of string.

Initially I read the article and tended to agree with the author: This just shouldn't be. But then after reading letters from readers raising the issue of Christmas lights and decorations on public property, I can see the Miami Beach eruv is a much more complicated issue. I only wish Mr. González would have raised these issues as well.

In this community we are often overwhelmed by the atrocities suffered by Colombians, Cubans, Haitians -- the list goes on and on. But that does not eliminate the unmatchable horror and devastation experienced by the Jews in Germany. Having spent time touring the death camps of Poland and Germany, I can only tell you that I am much more sensitive to the low-grade anti-Jewish rhetoric and imagery that still pervades our culture. Because the Jews have made such an extraordinary effort to integrate themselves into American culture, people wrongly assume that their heritage and suffering is fair game. It isn't.

When I visited Auschwitz I noticed a stack of gray blankets, which I assumed were there to keep the prisoners warm. I was wrong. They were blankets made from the prisoners' hair, which was shaved before they were executed. These people were murdered so they could become blankets. That is a hard story to match from any immigrant community.

Philip Smith

Miami

Strings Attached: Extremely Offended

The story may have been fair but the illustration was not: While the article by Gaspar González about the Miami Beach eruv attempted to be fair and balanced, William Taylor's cover illustration could easily have been lifted from Jules Streicher's Der Sturmer. I was taken aback when I saw it. I can only imagine the reaction it caused for Jews who lived through the Holocaust, who suffered the consequences of racist propaganda accompanied by drawings just like Taylor's. At best the cover was in poor taste. I know many people who found it extremely offensive.

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