Letters from the Issue of April 8, 2004

Miamiís corruption, midwivesí training, Cobainís legacy

Miami: Third World Role Model

Thanks to upstanding leaders like Ralph Arza: I read the great article by Rebecca Wakefield about state Rep. Ralph Arza over and over and over, and I could not believe how deep is the corruption within our system ("Meet Mr. Arza," March 25). I thought only in Third World countries, like my beloved Dominican Republic, could things like this happen. But the Dominican Republic seems like a little baby in comparison to Miami-Dade County.

Ralph Arza, like many of our elected officials, seems to forget those people who put their trust in him to do what is good for the community. Once elected, he and others are beholden only to their friends and their own private agendas. We must get rid of people like that.

We voters must inform ourselves, get to the core of this rotting disease, and not only shake the tree but chop it to pieces. Only then can we start anew and make Miami-Dade County a nice place to live and educate our children.

As an angry and fed-up citizen of Miami-Dade County, I ask you to continue exposing corruption and to keep voters informed.

Juan G. Romero

Miami Beach

Arza: Too Manipulative?

You bet -- and he'd have my head if I signed this: Rebecca Wakefield's report on state Rep. Ralph Arza was well researched and very well written. It presented me with the evidence I needed to understand that Mr. Arza is too politically manipulative to hold the position of schools superintendent -- or any political office for that matter.

Thank you for an informative article in a style of writing that was enjoyable to read. Please withhold my name because, as a teacher in the Miami-Dade County public schools, I fear retribution.

Name Withheld by Request

Miami

The World's Oldest Profession?

Think about it -- before any of that stuff, there were midwives: Regarding Samantha Roher's letter about the article "Cuts You Up" by Celeste Fraser Delgado (March 18), she is absolutely right about one thing: the need to educate. And I respectfully ask her to educate herself before passing on incorrect information to the general public.

First, the correct term for a nonnurse midwife is a licensed, not a lay, midwife. A midwife is licensed only after attending formal medical training in a three-year midwifery program. The prerequisites for this program are the same as the requirements for nursing school. In order to obtain her license, the midwifery student must fulfill certain clinical requirements, including the delivery of 50 babies (nurse-midwives are required to deliver 20 babies for their licensure), the completion of 75 prenatal visits, 50 newborn exams, and 50 postpartum visits. Once she has completed these requirements she must take a state licensing exam. We do not provide care for high-risk women, and we arerequired to carry malpractice insurance. We are highly trained to recognize early signs of complications, and we are skilled in both adult and neonatal resuscitation. We carry oxygen and anti-hemorrhagic medications to all births.

I can understand why Ms. Roher would have a negative perspective, because as a nurse all she sees are the bad outcomes. But for every negative case, there are 99 others with healthy, happy, and safe outcomes. All the studies that have been done comparing planned home birth with a skilled attendant to hospital birth have demonstrated that home birth is just as safe, and many times is actually safer, for low-risk women. In fact the countries with the lowest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world (the United States is not even in the top fifteen for either category) have midwives as the primary caregivers for all pregnant women, and have home-birth rates as high as 50 percent.

To respond to Ms. Roher's observation about Cher Durham's delivery, x-ray vision is unnecessary in diagnosing a nuchal hand. In this case I merely placed my hand inside the birth canal to determine the brief holdup in the birth of the baby's shoulders. Based on the position of the baby, I was able to determine which hand was crossed over her chest, and with a gentle maneuver, I dislodged the baby's left elbow, which was, as Celeste wrote, "snagging her mother's insides." Sometimes midwives "see" with their hands, a useful skill in any setting.

Midwifery was here long before doctors and hospitals existed. And despite all obstacles, somehow we have managed to survive. It would be a lot easier and more pleasant if we didn't get such antagonism from the "medical" community. But regardless, get used to us because we're here to stay.

Corina Fitch, licensed midwife, RN

Miami

How Kurt Cobain Changed My Life

Only after his death did I come to know him: In response to "All Apologies" by Mosi Reeves ("Basshead," March 4), I was seven years old when Kurt Cobain died. I didn't know anything about him then. In fact I didn't discover Nirvana till I was fifteen years old, in 2001. We were taking photographs for the school newspaper (for which I wrote) in the media center. Someone was playing music and a song came on that I had heard once or twice before but couldn't place. I asked a couple of people about it. Surprised and sardonic, they replied it was "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the ever-popular Nirvana anthem.

The song must have stuck in my head, because I went on to discover what everyone of my generation already knew. Embarrassingly enough, I was seven years too late. As a seven-year-old living in a small town in New Jersey I didn't listen to music, and at age eleven, when I did start listening, it was solely classical music, with a nose upturned toward "noise pollution."

I never really associated "Teen Spirit" with the hordes of popular bullies and snobs to which MTV catered. I realized only later that Cobain was upset his song had become an anthem for the very people he'd despised in school. But it never seemed to me that he was one of the unapproachable elite every bullied teen and nerd and outcast looked upon with a strange mixture of envy, disdain, and irony.

In high school I was never popular, more often than not for being what people considered arrogant, proud, recalcitrant, and simply impossible. But neither was I one of the artsy snobs who listened to the Cure and dressed in flannel or black. I did not have any friends; I remember wandering around the school during lunch whenever the media center was closed. I simply refused to compromise because I realized that the nerds formed their own groups, smaller than that of the popular kids but even more exclusive and elitist. I did not believe in the dichotomy that divided the world into those who conformed and those who did not.

Now I am seventeen years old and, a decade after his death, Cobain still has an impact on me. When I went to France last summer I saw his picture on a T-shirt a teenager was wearing. Every day on the radio there they play "Heart-Shaped Box," "Lithium," "In Bloom," and "Teen Spirit."

I am not alone in regretting that he killed himself. But if you had read his lyrics and listened to the songs, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Today many hundreds of teenagers each year never make it past high school or college. Their deaths are a testament to something deeply disturbing. We all seem caught up in an intellectual Catch-22 that has us always pretending to be something. And no matter what we do, it seems we can never take off our masks in front of others. But when we are alone, we have to face the truth that, as Cobain wrote, "all in all is all we are." Perhaps that's why my favorite song of his is "Something in the Way."

The voice in the song is that of a homeless person, "underneath the bridge," where "the tarp has sprung a leak." I read that Cobain wanted to be homeless and I can understand why, because I too have felt a fascination with such a rootless existence. In modern society the homeless person is a sort of nomad who survives on instinct and guts, a life stripped bare. That homeless guy is the one who has stopped pretending.

Issis Palomo

Little Havana

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