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.

Miami

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

Miami

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

Hialeah

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

Tommy Lee, You Lied to Me

So don't look for my friends and me at your stupid club: Oh where do I even begin? I heard Tommy Lee was opening a rock club and read about it in Humberto Guida's "BuzzIn" column ("ROK It," June 3). I was so excited. Finally a rock club on South Beach. Finally something different. Who would dare to dream of a different kind of club on the famous South Beach?

I saw good reviews about the place and read a quote from Tommy Lee himself that left me excited about spending my whole paycheck there. Tommy Lee said, "I opened a rock club in South Beach. I'm tired of all the techno and hip-hop crowds. We need a place where you can get drunk, pass out on the floor, have a great time with friends -- a place that is outside the herd of sheep everyone follows in South Beach."

Well, I finally went. We got there at 1:00 a.m. and the power had been out for at least two hours, so we waited outside for twenty minutes, hoping the power would come back soon. My friends and I were the only ones waiting.

The lights did come back on suddenly and flocks of people began showing up. We were the first ones in line. Of course it took a while longer for the computer to come back on line, so we waited at least another half an hour outside with the crowd, dying to get in.

Finally they started letting people in, and to my surprise the flocks of sheep were getting in first -- all the beautiful silicone people first. Fine, so you need dolls and plastic people in your club.

But the second hour passed and we, the regular older crowd, were still waiting. None of us was let in even though we're more loyal and committed and spend more money in a club that rocks. But no. Tommy Lee lied. The Rok was a waste of time for us. If they continue with this bullshit, don't be surprised if it's out of business in three months.

Carolina Leon

Miami

More Art

And more art and more art and more art: Please continue to expand your coverage of the visual arts in the Miami area. Longer articles on this subject are needed by your readers.

I am a big supporter and consumer of the visual arts and always get the word out when there are well-written articles on the subject in New Times. Thanks.

Mary Agnes Beach

Coral Gables

Six Time Zones of Separation

My name is Tristram Korten and I did not approve this message: Do you people at New Times have any idea how good your reporter Tristram Korten really is? I regularly log on to your Website to read his stuff even though I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

Why? Because there are few journalists anywhere who write as well, work as hard, take risks, and continually file great stories.

Alexander Sharkey

Paris, France

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