By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Summary: Before I leave, it's time for full disclosure. I met one of Mr. Korten's villains, Robert Meyers, in Miami Beach when I was supporting the passage of certain ethics legislation. I met him again when he came to Miami Beach to explain and support legislation that would require lobbyists to disclose their fees. That disclosure law was passed in Miami Beach and Meyers helped do that.
As for Kerry Rosenthal, whom I have never met, you may agree with Korten that Rosenthal is obsessed with administrative minutiae and doesn't know how to interpret the very statute that gave life to the commission he heads. But maybe he's just applying the theory of checks and balances. So there!
If anything is threatened, it's Korten's credibility:Tris Korten's "Inspector Imperiled" was right in at least one respect. The Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) does not have a 100 percent conviction record. It's more like 99 percent. Our successes, which Korten neglected to mention while he swooned over his ex-boss Christopher Mazzella, include ethics complaints filed against a county commissioner, the mayor of North Miami, a former county manager, former City of Miami manager, a Miami Beach commissioner, two Homestead city council members, the former North Bay Village mayor, and a prominent local lobbyist.
COE investigations also led to the removal from office of a community council member who was subsequently arrested and convicted, the removal from office of a county fire board commissioner, and the firing from city employment of a senior Miami Beach building official. All that with an investigative staff less than half the size of the Office of the Inspector General.
Moreover the vast majority of the more than 100 complaints the COE has handled in the past four years have been settled without a fight. Did we lose a few? You bet we did. But when you take elected and appointed officials to task, instead of low-level employees, a few defeats are inevitable. Clearly Mr. Korten does not have a clue about the hundreds of advisory opinions the COE issues, or the community outreach and training it does throughout the county. Either that or he just thinks they are not important.
It seems to me that the only thing in danger of "fading into irrelevancy" is Korten's journalistic integrity. Instead of fair, unbiased reporting, he chooses to dress up in his cheerleader outfit and do a "rah, rah" for his former boss. Put away the pompoms and the drama, Tris. Nowhere in COE chairman Kerry Rosenthal's letter to Mazzella was there even a hint of a possibility of the inspector general losing his job. In fact Rosenthal praised Mazzella's fine work. But when the Performing Arts Center, a project for which the OIG provided oversight since day one, is $67 million over budget, maybe "refocusing your agency priorities" as chairman Rosenthal, Mazzella's boss, suggests, isn't such a bad idea.
Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust
Editor's note: In his column this week, Tristram Korten reveals a telltale e-mail that now figures in the dispute between Meyers and Mazzella. See page 22.
One that also applies to Cuban Americans: Regarding Kirk Nielsen's article about the Bush administration's new Cuba restrictions ("Politics and Policy," July 29), I don't think they go far enough. It was my understanding that, according to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans are allowed into this country without further review because they are, by definition, political refugees. In these days of wet-foot/dry-foot, only those with legitimate claims of political persecution are allowed in if they are caught offshore. So if every Cuban in the United States is here because of political persecution (as opposed to being economic refugees like everyone else), then why would any of them ever want to return to a country where they must fear arrest?
As to remittances, I thought the purpose of the embargo was to keep American dollars out of Cuba. That's certainly the reason regular Americans like me cannot visit the place. So why would refugees who despise Castro want to prolong his reign by putting hundreds of millions of American dollars into the Cuban economy?
My opinion of the half-assed embargo we've had for more than 40 years? Either have one that is total and complete (no American dollars to Castro by way of remittances, no U.S. visas to Cubans, no tourism, and no phone tolls) or lift the embargo, allow open travel, and flood Cuba not only with American dollars but with American ideals, information, and material goods.
To have only certain people able to travel to a certain county is, well, un-American.
The city's beloved "Little Havana" district is a tropical oasis: Max Castro is on target in exposing how a "small cadre of exile fanatics" in Miami dictate and hold hostage U.S. policy toward Cuba ("Triumph of the Zealots," July 29). A majority of the American people are against the embargo, both houses of Congress have voted to end it, and yet President Bush tightens sanctions, prosecutes Americans who travel there, and makes it almost impossible for Cubans here in the U.S. to help or see their loved ones. It's outrageous how this administration panders to the tyranny of a few with power and money. Everyone sees through this vote-buying.