Letters from the Issue of September 30 - October 6,2004

Confusing breastfeeding with lawyering, and getting there by bus

Prominent Lobbyist Exposes Breast

"If successfully suckling at the public teat is a crime, then consider me guilty!" As a lawyer who is well past his early development years, I was a little surprised by Rebecca Wakefield's statement in "Rage Against the Machines" (September 23) to the effect that I have been a "successful suckler at the county commission teat." I was not aware that the practice of law involved such intimate interaction with my government.

Alas I think Ms. Wakefield must have been confused by the fact that, when I served as a member of the Florida legislature, I sponsored and passed what is known as the "Breastfeeding in Public Act," a bill that made clear no woman in Florida can be harassed or threatened with any enforcement action for the simple and natural act of nurturing her child in a public place, even though such conduct may involve the incidental exposure of her breast. Permit me to clear up this misunderstanding.

The practice of law -- a noble but maligned profession (much like journalism) -- bears little resemblance to the act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not adversarial. The child does not pay a retainer for the mother's services. The mother does not have to complete any studies, take any Bar exam, and is not required to be licensed. She seldom wears a suit and tie to perform this activity.

Please understand, I do appreciate the fact that the statement was meant to explain that I am a successful practitioner, and for that I thank you. One should never shun free publicity. But as an advocate for and defender of breastfeeding mothers, I would respectfully suggest that you leave such a beautiful and loving activity out of the hardball world of law and politics.

Miguel De Grandy

Pinecrest

Preserve Liberty: Buy an AK-47

It's the only sure-fire insurance against tyranny: Tristram Korten's column about assault weapons ("Loaded," September 23), is a classic example of biased, misinformed, misleading, and one-sided reporting. The assault rifle (AK-47) used against Miami-Dade Police Ofcr. Keenya Hubert was more than likely fully automatic. With very few exceptions it has been illegal to possess fully automatic weapons long before the assault-weapons ban of 1994.

Another glaring omission is that George Bush Sr. initiated the ban on importation of assault weapons during his reign. Manufacturers abroad responded the same way domestic manufacturers did when their weapons were banned: They made design changes so their products would not qualify as assault weapons.

The United States Constitution's Second Amendment is clear: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Had "assault weapons" been banned prior to 1776, we still would be enjoying tea and crumpets, and curtsying to the queen. The founders of this (so-called) republic never dreamed of imposing a weapons ban after Shays' Rebellion (1786) or the Whiskey Rebellion (1794).

The Second Amendment was created strictly to deter tyrannical rule. Mr. Korten finds it necessary to mention one weapons manufacturer's nation of origin: "Cuban-born Coral Gables resident Carlos Garcia." Though I'm sure it was not Mr. Korten's intent, a quick review of history would show that one of Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro's first actions was to disarm the Cuban population. Today it's perhaps too late, but Cubans know exactly what those weapons could have been used for.

Hopefully Americans won't give up their right to own and possess "assault" weapons so easily, and hopefully they will never be needed. But it's always better to be safe than sorry. Just ask 11 million Cubans, a billion Chinese, or millions of European Jews.

Emiliano Antunez

Miami

Bus People: Don't Be Duped

Oops -- too late: In response to Francisco Alvarado's cover story about the Miami-Dade Transit Agency ("Critical Mass Transit," September 2), I ask: Is the People's Transportation Plan a sham?

I recall in 2002 the Miami-Dade government's ads boasting about this thing they called the People's Transportation Plan. The promise to would-be supporters? Traffic relief. The promise to users of public transportation? Service improvement. The slogan? "It's all about choices."

I did not buy it. Miami-Dade Transit can't possibly deliver on this, I thought. How can they be trusted to reverse an old trend of nonaccountability? How can their projections about ridership be verified? Now, almost two years and more than 50 unresolved MDTA complaints about poor service later, I can honestly attest that voters were duped big time. Same old, same old.

Can sales taxes be repealed?

Name Withheld by Request

Miami

Bus People: Don't Expect Perfection

Yes, there are problems, but you can help solve them: Francisco Alvarado's article on the county's bus system was disturbing. It asked fundamental question that should make Miami-Dade Transit explore solutions to nagging problems.

One would hope that most of the allegations cited were untrue. One would also hope that whatever incidents did occur would become fewer in number. There is no way to countenance poor service, bad attitudes, or a lack of effort. Yet I wonder if it is realistic to expect such a complex operation to run perfectly, especially when it must interact with so many outside variables it cannot control.

MDTA user Stephanie Hammer said she would see three buses pull up simultaneously, all of them for the same route. I too have observed this in a number of locations. Common sense would be to have route supervisors spread out these buses. Failing to do so creates the potential for overcrowding. There have been occasions when I've been on buses with more than 70 people. That gets uncomfortable.

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