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

Confusing breastfeeding with lawyering, and getting there by bus

It does no good to advertise fifteen-minute intervals if they are chronically unkept. With traffic accidents, inclement weather, fire and police activity, and breakdowns, it must be expected that runs will be late at times, especially during rush hours. But delays should be the exception to the rule. You cannot tolerate the problems spelled out by Barry Robinson. He claimed he was sanctioned at work three times in two weeks because a scheduled Metro bus failed to appear.

Rider Bruce Clapp stated that if a bus driver gets one complaint, he or she should be fired. He also thought some drivers were too fat. It is clear there must be a performance minimum and measures of decorum and politeness. But one complaint, which may not be legitimate, is a bit too strict. Sitting hours in stressful situations can work against svelte physiques. Besides, at times drivers don't get the proper breaks and the food options at hand may not be the low-calorie kind.

The purpose of the half-cent sales tax was to make public transit a more attractive option for commuters. To that end, Miami-Dade Transit maintains an Office of Public Involvement that is eager to improve the operation and correct shortfalls. All are encouraged and welcome to use its services to correct faults and make things better. In addition, a group of citizens, the Miami-Dade Transit Citizens Advisory Coalition, meets monthly to review transit changes, take reports on service experiences, and offer ideas that can improve service and conditions in the Miami-Dade Transit system. Again, all are encouraged to join in and help.

Ollie Lee Taylor

Miami-Dade Transit Citizens

Advisory Coalition


Bus People: Don't Get Angry

It's not always the driver's fault: I've been using the Miami-Dade transit system since I began attending FIU in the fall of 2003. I have also used it to go to a variety of different places, including Aventura, downtown, and the beach. I was very glad to read the article because I could relate to it.

During my experiences using the public transit system I have noticed that I shouldn't get mad at bus drivers for coming a little late because they are in traffic. The fact that the buses sometimes come so infrequently is not the driver's fault but rather the administration's fault for not having enough buses on that route.

I have also noticed that buses meant to serve tourists run much more frequently than those serving residential areas (as is the case with the S bus). Another observation: Bus drivers in Miami Beach are frequently ruder than those down south and out west. Overall, though, I have found more bus drivers to be very friendly and helpful than rude and violent. Some even show concern for you.

Here's an issue I think really needs to be clarified: There are no regulated procedures for signaling a bus to stop. Some drivers say I need to flag them down, but others say they should stop or slow down if they see someone at a bus stop. I understand, however, that the latter option can affect a bus's punctuality.

Generally speaking, passengers need to take a more active role in making the transit system work, and not act as if they are in a communist state where everything is handed to them.

Carlos Olaechea


The Final Insult

After years of polluting the Everglades, the Fanjul family is poised to administer the coup de grâce: Eric Alan Barton, in his story about the sugar-baron Fanjul family ("From Bitter to Sweet," August 26), reported that José Gallardo, a Mexican immigrant employed by the Fanjuls for seventeen years, had his arm ripped off by sugar-processing machinery. Did the family come to Gallardo's aid after the accident? No. And why did the richest farmers in the United States, grown fat on the public dime, do nothing for their long-time employee? According to Gaston Cantens, the Fanjuls's new lobbyist: "We could never figure out where he was." Only after New Times began asking questions did the great despoilers come out from hiding.

We know where Mr. Cantens is, and we know why he is where he is. It is appropriate for all Floridians to know as well. Cantens, a Republican state representative from Miami's District 114, was the driving force in the 2003 legislative session for a bill that provoked a major outcry against the Republican majority and Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed it into law.

The new law ensures that large landowners in lightly populated areas of Florida, people like the Fanjuls, will never have to face angry neighbors in court when their rural tracts wither under the Miracle-Gro of tractors and low interest rates, pouring more suburban sprawl into the approving arms of state agencies. It was a neat trick that benefits the Republicans' biggest campaign contributors. A noteworthy provision of the law is that it targets for special treatment and exclusion from the administrative-court process the one organization most likely to sue the State of Florida -- the Sierra Club.

Mr. Cantens, who is retiring from the legislature (presumably so he can spend more time assisting the Fanjuls), is now well qualified and in the right position to execute the Fanjul family's plan for developments that will turn polluting old sugar fields into new residential disaster areas. Which is what happens when property rights are inserted into flood zones that need to be wet for the Everglades.

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