Letters from the Issue of October 24, 2002

Bring back Robert Rosenberg!

The Rosenberg Resurrection

We shall return him to the film festival -- or else: In Brett Sokol's recent "Kulchur" column about the crisis at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival ("They Shoot Divas, Don't They?" October 10), he wrote that "...not just the gay community, but the entire city is the poorer for [festival director Robert] Rosenberg's getting axed." We could not agree more and think Sokol's portrayal of the issues and events is accurate, fair, and to the point.The recent departure from the festival of its founder and director is unfortunate and tragic to many of us who have known Mr. Rosenberg's work in South Florida, who love the arts, are film aficionados, and would like to see the local gay and lesbian community flourish and grow. Under Robert Rosenberg's visionary leadership the festival, in only four short years, has received extensive praise from the film industry, including film directors and other artists from around the world; from South Florida audiences; and from the media. Much of this is based on the international network Mr. Rosenberg has developed for the past two decades as an award-winning filmmaker and film festival professional himself.

Those of us signing this letter consist of former members of the festival's board of directors (including two former chairpersons), as well as festival members, major donors, and professional collaborators. We are committed to seeing the return of Mr. Rosenberg to his position as festival director. We believe this is the best way to ensure the preservation of an outstanding gay and lesbian film festival for Miami and South Florida, and the annual growth of its international recognition for years to come.

In fact, through an endless flow of telephone calls and e-mails across the community, it is clear that a large segment of film festival founders, members, and attendees are deeply dismayed by Mr. Rosenberg's dismissal and support his reinstallation as festival director. Many of these feel they will no longer support the festival with their money, their time, or their attendance given the recent turn of events and the board's apparent inability to resolve the situation.

Next to his dismissal, the decision not to replace Mr. Rosenberg with someone of comparable accomplishments is even more telling. Surely there must be a greater understanding of the role and value of an artistic leader than is evidenced thus far in the public discussion of his dismissal. To suggest that the 2003 festival will be bigger and better than the last without Mr. Rosenberg, as the current festival administration has done, betrays a lack of understanding of what distinguishes an adequate festival director from an Olympian. We are certain the outstanding quality of the 2002 festival will not continue without Robert Rosenberg's leadership.

A number of us have offered and continue to offer to join (or rejoin) the festival board of directors and to participate in the effort to preserve the festival as the community treasure it is. We are confident the financial and administrative work that needs to take place to make the organization functional again can happen with a collegial, committed board and with Rosenberg as director of the festival. We also recognize the impressive talent and industry experience of current festival personnel, and look forward to their continued efforts in producing the festival. We urge the current board quartet to take the steps necessary to build bridges and find common ground to move forward with the rest of us in continuing the work that Robert Rosenberg began. We also encourage all supporters and members of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to communicate to the current administration your concerns and recommendations regarding Mr. Rosenberg's departure and the future of the festival.

A nonprofit gay and lesbian film festival is a community institution, and its audience must be all-inclusive. Nonprofit management is not easy and board management is a labor of love. However, decisions must be based on the long-term benefit to the total community. Infighting and power conflicts need to be managed without loss of the core value of the institution -- otherwise there is no institution, or a different and lesser one. We think Mr. Rosenberg created that core value of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and should remain part of the team.

If you would like to have your name added to this list, please contact us at SaveTheFest@aol.com and indicate what your past relationship to the film festival has been.

Sidney Brien, founding chairperson

Harvey J. Burstein, former chairperson

Mario Beguiristain, Raymond Breslin, Loly Carrillo, Don Chauncey, Karen Caruso, Gabino Cuevas, M. Blake Davis, Arlene M. De la Torre, Fred Fejes, Steven Neckman, Myrna Palley, Sheldon Palley, Patrick Pecoraro, Larry Rivero, Sylvie Rokab, Heriberto Sanchez, Joan Schaeffer, Robert Schafer, Tom Thielen, Michael Tronn, Merle Weiss, Kevin Wynn, Thomas R. Yoli

The Rosenberg Rejection

We tried to make it work, but he made it impossible: I'm glad (for a lack of a better word) the story about the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival finally hit the papers. Over the past year a productive and hard-working board of directors became completely repulsed by the behavior of Robert Rosenberg. The community had no idea what problems we were having.The festival was for the whole community, not for Robbie's personal agenda. His arrogant behavior and lack of business sense contributed to the festival's $100,000 debt. That became evident this year when board members who had legitimate recommendations for our tight budget were forced to resign while another was ousted. Other board members became disgusted by his bullying and also resigned. We lost a lot of great people because of Robbie.

The community should know that the board tried everything possible to continue working with Robbie Rosenberg. We never wanted it to end like this. It's a shame.

Lynn M. Bove

Miami Beach

Poor Miami: Politically Incorrect Truth

Too many refugees, too many babies: New Times's special report on poverty in Miami discussed why we lead the nation with regard to this ignominious distinction, but without revealing the true reasons ("We're Number One!" September 26 and October 3). Since political correctness seems to have precluded their exposure, I will do so here. Two factors -- immigration and the welfare state -- have exacerbated poverty in Miami. The United States is unwilling to implement the effective immigration policies of countries like New Zealand, which requires immigrants to possess needed skills and investment capital. Instead we allow low-skilled refugees from overpopulated regions to burden our welfare system, a system that enables the irresponsible proclivities of immigrants as well as our own deadbeats.

Why should we feel sorry for the woman who works at Wendy's, has five children, and wonders why she cannot make ends meet? I do feel sorry for the children, but taxpayers should not be liable for such irresponsibility. We know what causes pregnancy, after all.

The solution? Implement a more selective immigration policy in this crowded land of liberty and give tax credits for having fewer rather than more children. If you can't feed them, don't breed them.

David Horstman

North Miami

Poor Miami: Foreigner Fatigue

You can't compete with people who accept slave wages: So Miami is the poorest large city in the nation. Maybe a strong Immigration and Naturalization Service and national identification cards should be part of the solution. America is a unique nation of immigrants, but the fact is not everyone can become a citizen and live and work in this country.Our immigration policy was supposedly designed as a filtration system to protect the health and safety of our nation and to safeguard our communities from being overrun by foreigners unadapted to our laws. But too many people are flooding in. Presently there are an estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. The door has been opened for virtually anyone of Hispanic origin to mingle freely in our cities and disenfranchise the legal population by taking jobs and working for slashed wages.

Here in Miami Beach, in the construction industry, I know it is the company that hires cheaper illegal labor that wins the bids. Restaurants, hotels, and retail businesses hire workers with false papers for cut-rate wages and skimmed tips. Federal, state, and local authorities must enforce existing immigration and labor laws. Lawbreakers must be fined, and those who are here illegally must be sent home as humanely as possible.

We must respect the human rights of all nations, as they must respect ours. There are many things we can do to help the world. For example, we can support organizations like the Peace Corps. But the rights and well-being of our legal citizens must be protected first in order to maintain our democracy.

Mark Buckley

Miami Beach

Just Whose Free Speech Is It?

In the Mursuli-Sims bout, I'll take Mursuli: I read Tristram Korten's article "Pro-Gay Pressure?" (October 10), and here's what I still don't understand: The Rev. Willie Sims is a paid employee of Miami-Dade County, employed as director of special projects and crisis response. His job, as that implies, is to promote well-being and "community relations" among the various ethnic and racial groups in our county. And yet he supported the repeal of a county ordinance that provides for all-inclusive protection under the law? On the other hand, you have Jorge Mursuli, who has a reputation for building bridges in this community and is employed by an organization that has as one of its central goals the defense of free speech for all, being accused by conjecture and hearsay of squelching someone else's free speech.

I happen to consider that a twisted violation of Mursuli's own free speech! Keep fighting the fight, Mursuli!

Ana Escribano-Cruz

Miami

Just Whose Community Is It?

I say it's everyone's -- gay, straight, rich, poor, white, black: It baffles the mind why someone like Rev. Willie Sims, whose work for Miami-Dade County is supposed to overcome differences in our community and create an atmosphere of understanding, publicly supported the repeal of an ordinance that provides protection for members of that community. Then he cries wolf and hires a pro-bono attorney to protect his right to free speech. Reverend Sims, free speech is not only defined as the ability to speak your mind, but also to exercise personal judgment regarding the effects of invoking your right to free speech -- especially when employed by a publicly funded county department whose mission is to provide equal services for all. I do not question your right to agree or disagree with homosexuality as a lifestyle, but as a representative of all the people in the county and as a reverend, it speaks poorly of you to encourage divisiveness.

As a gay man, I would like you to know I have given back to "your" community by working closely with local charity groups and national organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. I've done so because I felt it was my responsibility to give back something to the community I have had the privilege to be a part of. It is our community, Reverend Sims.

As for Jorge Mursuli, he deserves recognition for keeping in check those people with real influence, not perceived influence. Thanks to women and men like Mursuli, the rest of the community can be assured that someone is watching and holding public officials accountable for their behavior.

Dylan Sanders

Miami

Editor's note: As reported in Tristram Korten's article, days before the September 10 election Reverend Sims reversed his position and announced his support for maintaining the county's anti-discrimination ordinance.

Aging Rocker Trashed

Disrespectful writer insults Jagger, displays abysmal ignorance: One wonders how a calendar editor would understand what is required to sustain a level of popularity that fills stadiums with fans. Nina Korman's preview of the Rolling Stones makes it abhorrently clear she knows more about trashing others' longevity than about true rock and roll ("Night & Day," October 17). The fact that Mick Jagger has generations of family surrounding him should not be a point of degradation. Furthermore, when a person knows how to do something right (read the reviews around the country of their current tour), observers should demonstrate an appropriate level of respect.The Stones have proved their talent time and time again, and they continue to "start me up." Time for the Stones to quit? Who should truly think about quitting?

Norvin Griner

Coconut Grove

Aging Teen Idol Trashed

Embittered writer ridicules Garrett, exposes disgusting beer gut: Let's see ... Leif Garrett is 40 years old, so that would make his original fan base a few years younger, say 35 to 38 or so. In Jeff Stratton's nasty and generally misinformed introduction to his interview with Leif ("Leif Blower," September 19), he wrote, "Garrett cheerfully calls [his new band] a cross between Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots -- a mix unlikely to arouse his now-menopausal fan base." Someone should tell Stratton that women generally don't go through menopause at such a young age.Any person who feels the need to write such a negative intro must be seething with jealousy. The image of a fat, middle-age dude, sitting at his PC in the middle of the night, scratching his hairy beer gut, came to mind as I tried to conjure up this alleged writer.

What's the matter, Mr. Stratton, were all the teenage girls ignoring you and your nerdy, pimply faced friends back in the Seventies, while they all drooled over Leif and Shaun? Or more likely, you probably had visions of yourself being a star in a rock band. But no, you're sitting in your cave, watching life pass you by, hurling insults at guys who are making their dreams come true.

Get out and see Leif perform, Mr. Stratton. You'll have a surprisingly great time and the fresh air could do your disposition a world of good.

Sue Cascio

Stamford, Connecticut

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