Letters from the Issue of May 6, 2004

Tallahassee, tips, unsung musicians, and daughterly advice

Through a Shot Glass, Hazily

Free weekly opens bureau in Tallahassee saloon: Giddy would be the word to describe Rebecca Wakefield's "Welcome to Fabulous Tallahassee" (April 22). While she was soaking up the atmosphere like a schoolgirl at her first prom, she missed the story: The Miami-Dade delegation is losing influence.

The thirteen-member Cuban-American delegation from Miami may know how to party more than the other Republicans, but they are at best a swing vote during close splits. The detrimental change in the District Cost Differential [which determines the flow of state money to school districts] was a poignant reminder of where the power really lies in this state.

While certain members of the state Republican Party are going out of their way not to appear racist and unwelcoming, the story remains this: There are more of them than there are of us. "Them" are all the residents and their representatives in central, north, and west Florida. The "us" is the good citizens of Miami-Dade who are represented by Cuban-American Republicans, whose party is now in power. With nine Democrats weighing you down, there is only so much you can do for your districts.

In an increasingly diverse Miami-Dade there is little future for the Cuban-American elected officials who continue to harp on the issue of Cuba in order to maintain a narrow support base. If your base is less than a quarter of your district, then no one expects you to be around forever. Pols in such precarious circumstances who show their asses to lobbyists from BellSouth and the gaming industry can speed up that process.

While in the barrooms of Tallahassee, Ms. Wakefield might have foreseen the District Cost Differential reformulation being passed, but apparently she was too smitten to see through the haze.

John Santiago Stella

Miami

A Tip About Tips

With parking valets, it should be curiosity before generosity: Oh yes, the "Valet Sharking" article is true ("The Bitch," April 22). I used to regularly park my car at Morton's Steakhouse on Brickell Avenue because I had clients in the building where the restaurant is located.

On top of the valet parkers' improvised desk there was always a plastic cup in which to place tips. That made me curious. When you give a tip, it normally goes directly into the valet's pocket. One day while waiting for my car, I asked why they put their tips in that cup, and they told me they had to turn them over to the company. I followed with a comment that "they must split the tips evenly," but to my surprise the answer was No.

It hurt me just to think how much of my hard-earned money had helped the owners get even richer, so I decided always to ask before my well-intended tip ended up in the wrong pocket.

Name Withheld by Request

New York City

Ninety Films, Three Reviews

Is this any way to cover a festival? I was very surprised that John Anderson devoted half his article on the sixth annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to rehashing a very dated story ("Out and About," April 22). He seemed obsessed with the festival's history, yet as he failed to provide any new facts or angles, I hardly think it counted as news.

I have been a fan of the festival since the beginning, and like most of the early members I gratefully acknowledge the huge debt of thanks we owe to Robert Rosenberg, the founder and original director. I regretted his sudden departure, and in particular the poor way the festival board handled the scenario.

Like many, I approached last year's festival skeptically, but was delighted to discover that it not only lived up to Rosenberg's legacy, in many aspects it actually surpassed it. I was therefore more than happy to look to the future of the festival and join the throngs of people upgrading their membership levels. I also doubled the size of my financial commitment for the next year.

It is now day four of this year's festival, and thanks to the gifted Carol Coombes and the wondrous Jaie Laplainte, under the stewardship of a new board of directors, I am one of several thousand moviegoers who have been having a blast. We have been treated to a wealth of superb movies we would not normally have a chance to see, and they have deserved the enthusiastic reception received from the audience. We have been excited, entertained, educated, exhausted, saddened, frustrated, and even annoyed -- but never ever bored. With some 90-plus movies (let alone the nine parties), this is the biggest festival ever, and unquestionably one of the most important annual events in our gay and lesbian community.

I add the last points because the article centered on a mere three movies, which I found odd in a publication I had, until now, considered to be the Beach's leading listings paper. Despite such scant mention, I'm pleased to report that practically every movie has been sold out, with long lines waiting for last-minute tickets.

Roger Walker-Dack

Miami Beach

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