Lucia Murcia

Boston, Massachusetts

Arriola's Astounding Arrogance

Could a nationwide boycott be in order? Miami City Manager Joe Arriola's January 8 letter to the editor, headlined "The FTAA Was a Success but the Protesters Failed," was a regular festival of boorishness, arrogance, and official myopia. The purpose of the demonstrations against the FTAA was to protest what many believe is a predatory brand of "free" trade. It was not to spark urban uprisings or campus unrest. Moreover the protests worked well until the city and the police decided to shut them down.

Mr. Arriola also suggested that Miami is built on trade and commerce, omitting tourism -- perhaps for good reason. The union leaders who were mistreated by the police and demonized in print by the city manager ought to let their members know exactly what happened here. Perhaps a nationwide boycott would persuade the city manager and his police chief to lighten up, but I doubt it. Neither man seems the least bit willing to consider alternative views.

Michael Carlebach, director

Program in American Studies

University of Miami

Coral Gables

Arriola's Arrogance

Isn't the Point

The point is Miami's muddle-headed media: City Manager Arriola made several valid points in his letter, but he failed to mention the obvious: Miami media chose to focus only on good-cop-bad-cop scenarios instead of taking a tough investigative look at more daunting matters concerning the FTAA -- the presence of paid out-of-town agitators mingling with peaceful protesters, and the closed-door policy of the ministerial that kept all media coverage out and prevented any public involvement in the actual negotiating process.

How come the press never questioned why various arrestees didn't know globalization or free trade from Cheez Doodles? And since when is a blatant lack of transparency in the creation of U.S. trade policy virtually excused by the media with only minimum comment? Since when does the press accept such exclusionary tactics without jumping up and down screaming, "Foul play!" What happened to an unobstructed view, an informational venue of news coverage for the community? Sorry to say that the missed opportunity during the FTAA was suffered by Miami media.

Instead of behaving like deaf people with tunnel vision, a truly free press might have challenged the closed process in favor of direct public participation. Formal reviews might have lessened opposition by opening up the process and engaging the public in true dialogue on the pros and cons of proposed trade rules, with alternatives to allay fears of hidden deals and policies dictated by powerful economic interests. Review just might have encouraged some proactive trade policies that would promote environmental protection as well as increased commerce.

Unfortunately during the FTAA, Miami's press took the path of least resistance and concentrated on policing the police (rather than leaving the matter of constitutional violations to the ACLU) instead of acting as watchdog over governmental policies. Sadly it only serves to demonstrate that even with free speech and free press, the public forum can be manipulated, resulting in a lack of national dialogue and national consensus.

Who could have guessed that averting a possible "Battle in Seattle" in downtown Miami could sufficiently piss off pundits of varying persuasions and temperaments? Who better than a ruddy-faced, straight-talking Northeasterner to upset Miami's phony-baloney mentality and reinforce the love-hate relationship between press and police?

Joanne Tomarchio

Miami

Only the Best to

Fight the Fires

Forget ethnicity and race -- it's about skill: I find it odd that Francisco Alvarado's article about alleged discrimination within the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department ("Burned Bridges, Careers," January 8) ignored the real discrimination: people who are skipped over as candidates for the training academy because they are not of a certain racial or ethnic group. Many academy candidates are passed over even though they scored higher than other candidates in a different racial or ethnic group. When you administer a competitive exam, you would think you'd hire according to the overall test score. Not so.

Why would you do such a thing in a competitive exam? Admitting academy recruits from racial groups is discriminatory. Taxpayers deserve the best candidates regardless of their racial or ethnic background. The whole system is set up for political correctness, not the best man or woman for the job. If you used test scores exclusively, you still would not have a perfect system, but at least everyone would have the same chance based on their abilities.

Will it ever end? Whether it's "set-aside contracts" or "special lists," this will never work. Let it be fair for all from the start.

Mark Wolosz

North Miami

Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error in "Burned Bridges, Careers," the rank of Miami-Dade firefighter Faye Davis was stated incorrectly. Davis holds the rank of lieutenant. New Times regrets the error.

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