Letters July 15-21, 2004

New Questions That Won't Die

If I were investigating David Berkofsky's death, here's what I'd ask: Forrest Norman's very well-researched article about the mysterious shooting death of U.S. Customs inspector David Berkofsky ("The Question That Won't Die," July 1) raised several questions of interest to me as an attorney.

First, shouldn't there have been an inquest? Second, since this was a violent death of a federal officer on federal property, was the FBI notified? Third, who were the customs agents who participated in the investigation? Fourth, with the U.S. Customs internal-affairs department's reputation for "lengthy" and "ongoing" investigations, were IA agents involved in this investigation? If so, who were they?

John Cavicchi

Boston, Massachusetts

Still More Questions

Think about Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr: This past July 11 we remembered the 200th anniversary of the Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel that ended with the death of Hamilton. He was shot and killed by his rival when they faced off that day in Weehawken, New Jersey.

Nearly two centuries later, U.S. Customs inspectors José Marrero-Colon and David Berkofsky went into the conference room of their Miami office for what may have been a similar encounter. Hamilton did not commit suicide in his confrontation with Burr, and Berkofsky did not take the opportunity to have a "duel" with Marrero-Colon so he could take his own life. Duels are not venues to shoot and kill yourself.

The crack team of investigators who looked into the Berkofsky "suicide" needs to go back again and see the Forrest Norman truth-telling from the ruthless bias that contaminates this case.

Van Gross, M.D.


Burgess the Bungler

Why county manager should be an elected office: I could not agree more with Tristram Korten's exposé of Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess's bungled selection of the new director of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("Politically Tone Deaf," June 24).

I have had a citizen's encounter with Burgess concerning his property appraiser's blatantly erroneous conclusion on a property whose size has been incorrectly listed on the county's record for 38 years, thus causing an inflated assessment.

Months ago Burgess assured me of an independent review, but instead he blindly accepted the appraiser's findings. Such was the case with his very controversial, but fortunately failed, effort to hire Tom Allison as the new director of the corrections department.

Enough evidence. The position of county manager should be an elected one.

Charles Tien


Is a Fellow Human Being Worth $50K?

Yes, especially when it's Neith Nevelson: In response to Forrest Norman's article about Neith Nevelson ("A Brush with Death," June 24), I want to say that I've known Neith personally and I feel so sad and powerless to see her almost on the brink of death.

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- takes advantage of this defenseless artist whose ghosts from her past, including her childhood traumas, are about to kill her. But she can still be saved. I've spoken with her since the New Times article appeared and I know for a fact she needs help. Someone with pull needs to come up with $50,000 for an operation to mend her back, which was injured when she was struck by a car.

In Neith's case, whatever is done for her will simply be a compassionate and humanitarian gesture toward a fellow human being.

Jorge Reyes


I'm with the Band

In fact I have to drive them to their gigs: Mine is not so much a reply to Lee Zimmerman's article "Deep Roots" (June 10) as it is a shameless plea for free publicity for my son's underage alternative-rock band. Maybe there's a story here, maybe not. Notwithstanding, the fact is that these musicians face great difficulties trying to hone their craft in sunny South Florida.

With the exception of a small handful of clubs, nobody really cares about the state of the live-music scene when it comes to underage musicians. Granted most of these clubs serve liquor, a necessary commodity for any successful venue. But how are some clubs able to promote successful underage shows while others won't or can't? Why is there a plethora of baseball, soccer, and hockey arenas, but no amphitheaters? Why do West Palm Beach commissioners require club owners to cancel their all-ages venues? Why is there a lack of funding for music and art education programs in our schools?

Enter Unwanted Superheroes. This five-piece band fights the never-ending battle for recognition and legitimacy. Armed with nothing but their music and good intentions, they play where they can, when they can, supporting the efforts of their pet project, Dafenix.org.

Dafenix.org is a Florida not-for-profit organization whose sole purpose is to promote music and art education in Florida's schools. Dafenix.org, not surprisingly, is run by recent high school graduates, college students, and volunteers, mostly from the South Florida area.

I urge New Times readers to find out more about the Dafenix Foundation and how they plan to accomplish their goals. In doing so, check out Unwanted Superheroes! They carry the torch for today's youth and the unspoiled motivations of their generation.

Kevin Burns

Pembroke Pines

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