Letters from the Issue of February 5, 2004

Volunteers, hookers, belly dancers, and our man back in Havana

In Over Their Heads

Let's thank the volunteers serving on public boards, then show them the door: Tristram Korten's fine column on the Public Health Trust audits ("An Embarrassment of Audits," January 29) ought to be a lesson to this community on the consequences of placing public institutions in the hands of unelected private citizens. Each Public Health Trust (PHT) member deserves our thanks for serving, but let's be realistic about the limitations of such volunteer work.

At the PHT and other volunteer boards, the staffs of the institutions determine the path, and the board members provide oversight and advice. The board members must trust the staff to be forthright and act in the public interest. Board members have limited time and usually lack the technical experience necessary to challenge obscure or seemingly benign administrative decisions. Too often the result is that insiders can use unwitting board members to advance the private interests that encircle these public institutions. Of course the public can cry out to elected officials to put pressure on these boards, but in the end the board members are not accountable to voters.

As our community debates the future of an airport authority at MIA, one hopes the public will consider the numerous failed authorities of Miami's past and decide to demand reform from elected officials instead of accepting diminished voter control of public institutions.

Tom David


Every Penny Counts

Especially when they're going to a good cause like Humberto's devirgination: After reading Lee Williams's letter about Humberto Guida and his "BuzzIn" column ("Manhood Awaits," January 29), I want to be the first to pledge $3.17 toward a hooker for Humberto. That is how much I have in rolls of pennies in a jar on my dresser. I was saving for a bike, but this is more important.

I would like to say, however, that I thought Lee Williams had moved to New York City and that we were rid of him forever. Alas, I tithe on Sundays and this is what I get. So much for the power of God, huh?

If you ask me, I think Lee Williams has a crush. He sure spends a lot of time writing about how bad Humberto Guida's column is. Yeah, it's a little trite. But it looks like a plush gig to me, at least from a writer's standpoint. (I've dabbled some in my home city of Portland, Oregon.) Williams is gay, isn't he? If not, he's certainly latent.

Note to Guida: Son, stay off the dope. I could barely make out what you were trying to say in this week's "BuzzIn."

Once we get another 99 people to pledge the large sum that I have -- we're after quality here -- then Humberto, you only have to remember one thing: You're not paying her to sleep with you. You're paying her to get up, get dressed quietly, and leave.

Shane Oliver

Miami Beach

Let Me Try Again

This is what I meant to say about belly dance: This is in response to Tamalyn Dallal's letter ("Musty Old Letter Slings Mud," January 22) and to clarify my previous comments regarding Rebecca Wakefield's article "In the Belly of the Best" (December 4).

My chief complaint was that a somewhat comprehensive look at Miami's belly-dance scene included only select comments on the approach and presentation of other community members. For example, I wished to have seen more information about local musicians such as Fatahi. And what about Artemis, who I hear is a historian of the dance and its origins? What about Kira and Kahreen, who have been performing in South Florida for more than 25 years? What about Gigi Fayed, Samay, Myriam Eli, and Maja, who teach and perform? What about their dance history, awards, companies, workshops, their observations and aspirations for the community's future? Why weren't at least a few hundred words devoted to each of these topics in the 4000-word article?

I'm sorry that Ms. Dallal feels I offended her, but one can read between the lines and ask why. My intention was to point out what was missing, and I hope readers can see where other professionals lie. By the way, "In the Belly of the Best" is on permanent archive at www.miaminewtimes.com if anyone is interested. In my opinion, the readers' opinions greatly matter.

Barbara Lang


Letting Her Try Even

Once Was Too Much

Her belly-dance comments were, after all, ludicrous and deplorable: As the former opinion editor of UM's Miami Hurricane, I welcomed all letters, however complimentary or critical they might be, but always under the condition that they be thoughtful, well-argued, and free of unwarranted personal attacks on another's reputation. These are simple guidelines that most editors follow. But after reading the original letter from Barbara Lang ("Bellyache," January 15), it seems the editor of New Times would prefer a mud pit to an open marketplace of ideas.

After suffering through Ms. Lang's childlike lament against Rebecca Wakefield's article "In the Belly of the Best," it was reasonable to deduce that she never actually read the story in its entirety. Had she taken the time to read it through in a nonjudgmental manner, she would have found an unbiased, well-researched article full of illumination on the often misunderstood world of belly dance.

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