Letters from the Issue of November 7, 2002

In Denmark we really know how to get stoned

Hillary and Rosie and Two Times Wrong

Make thatflat-out wrong: Brett Sokol's column "The Political Dance" ("Kulchur," October 31), about the annual dinner for the Dade Human Rights Foundation (now named the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of South Florida), requires the correction of some serious misinformation. First this statement: "... at a more intimate predinner affair for the foundation's big-money VIP donors ..." is flat-out wrong. The foundation at no time had any connection with the reception independently organized by HILLPAC and held for Sen. Hillary Clinton on the evening of our foundation dinner -- not its location, not its invitation list, not its sponsors, not its security, not anything. Your writer was simply wrong.

This statement is also flat-out wrong: "... Rosie O'Donnell, from whom the National Impact Award was rescinded when Clinton became available...." Rosie O'Donnell, for reasons of her own not connected with the foundation or Miami for that matter, chose to cancel her attendance. Frankly, any reporter worth his salt would have known that Rosie adjusted her schedule significantly during difficulties with her magazine. Your writer was simply wrong.

Third, his opinion -- "Let's hope the foundation doesn't lose sight of its core mission: funding precisely those gay outfits that, sadly, many wealthy donors and civic leaders find disconcerting" -- is actually shared by the foundation. The foundation seeks to invite the larger, well-heeled community into its orbit at one of the three major events during the year so their financial support will help us while they learn about the foundation and the community needs it addresses through grant-making, in a very effective communications medium: a recognition dinner. Our most recent grants, selected by a grants committee of eight (only two of whom are on the board of the foundation) representing a broad swath of the GLBT and non-GLBT community, were prominently listed and described in our dinner program for that purpose as well.

We take this opportunity to encourage your readers to learn more about the foundation and the projects funded by it by visiting our Website at www.Gayandlesbianfoundation.org.

Joe Guerrero, president

Board of directors

Gay and Lesbian Foundation of South Florida

Miami

Brett Sokol replies:After the dinner, foundation vice president Alicia Apfel stated that Rosie O'Donnell was offered the award but never responded. Now Joe Guerrero says O'Donnell accepted but later declined. While they get their stories straight, I'll stand by my account. As for the predinner event, it may not have been an official foundation function, but nearly all those attending were at the hotel for the foundation dinner.

Drive, He Said Blindly

Embrace the gridlock, inhale the fumes: In Francisco Alvarado's excellent article on the transit tax ("Submarine Politics," October 31), he mentioned Richard N. Friedman, an attorney who has been a mass-transit foe for twenty years. With all due respect, is this guy a nutcase or what? Is he blind to what he has seen happening in Miami-Dade County for the past twenty years? Does he think the economic, social, and health costs of being mired in gridlocked traffic are good things?

Mr. Friedman, show me any other major metropolitan center that does not have some combination of trains, light rail, and sufficient bus service. What would you do if you moved to New York? Dismantle the subways?

Yet here we have a Kendall-based attorney who must not live in the Kendall I know -- a Kendall with no traffic problems. Again I ask: Is he blind, delusional, or what? Anyone who can be so ignorant about a situation and also be a practicing attorney scares me.

The people of Miami-Dade County should not suffer from Mr. Friedman's shortsightedness. This question is of utmost importance to our future. Common sense dictates so clearly the need for a combination of trains, buses, and other alternative means to move people and goods. In terms of the economic health of our county, this is almost basic math. Those of you likely to be swayed by Mr. Friedman's arguments need to think about this when you're stuck in traffic for an hour, or the train system cannot take you to that location because it has never been expanded.

By the way, Mr. Friedman, how long does it take you to get to work? Or do you enjoy a ten-minute commute? Maybe you work out of your home. In any case, the rest of us still sit and stew in traffic all day. If you're not affected, Mr. Friedman, then maybe you should turn your attention to where it will hopefully do the least harm -- to your paying clients.

Paul E. Czekanski

Cutler Ridge

Here in Denmark, Sure We Know How to Get High

And we might do some drinking too, but hey, no fights! Hello there. My name is Rasmus and I am from Denmark. Humberto Guida's story about young marijuana dealers sounds a bit like Hitler's propaganda during World War II ("The Preppie Pot Papers," October 24).

Go to Amsterdam in Holland and see how they run their coffee shops [where marijuana and hashish are legally available]. Go to Denmark and see how it is not legal but nobody gives a shit. We have an area in Copenhagen where you can buy hash like at a market, the way you buy a banana or a lime on the streets in the United States.

Think about how many people get crazy when they drink: fights, killings, et cetera. But when you smoke too much, you go to sleep. The U.S. could get a lot of tax money if it were legal. No drug is perfect, I know that. But drinking and smoking pot have nothing to do with taking cocaine and crack.

Rasmus Johannes Askholm

Denmark

Beach Unveils Innovative New Policing Technique

Officers to exercise personal judgment prior to action: I have a question about police procedures in Miami, in particular about the South Beach area. I visited your fine city not long ago for the first time. I have to say I really liked it for many reasons, though some things were inexplicably overpriced. But that's part of traveling.

I was walking down Ocean Drive around 1:00 a.m. and ran into a brawl in front of a place called Fat Tuesday's. I haven't seen quite that big a melee in a long time. Not wanting to get caught up in the festivities, I crossed the street to go around. As I was crossing I came upon a Miami Beach police officer sitting on the back of his truck. He was apparently trying to woo an attractive woman half his age and couldn't be bothered with the unruly behavior going on right under his nose.

So being that I had my liquid courage in full effect, I asked him if he was going to do something. He said, and I quote: "I'm not going over there! It's not my problem."

I was wondering if the laws are different in South Beach than most other places? Or is this just typical of most police officers to have a hands-off-unless-I-absolutely-have-to attitude?

If the same thing were to happen here in Houston, there would be a cavalry the size of a small army that would be there to break it up in record time, if for nothing else than the fun of roughing up some club kids. The cops in Houston are what you might call proactive, to the point of rivaling Los Angeles cops in their haste to put the smackdown on unruly citizens. Gotta love the South!

So what really is the deal with the Miami heat? And I'm not referring to the basketball team or the weather. Just curious.

Rich Britton

Houston, Texas

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