Letters from the Issue of February 3-9, 2005

Hospital attacks, Mad Doggie Disease, art liquor, Cali memories

How Unbalanced Was It?

So unbalanced it fell right into the union's lap: The picture painted of Pan American Hospital in Forrest Norman's article "Blunt Trauma" (January 20) was distorted. Pan American is a 146-bed general acute-care medical center and one of the few remaining not-for-profit hospitals in Miami-Dade County. The biggest omission in the article, which seemed to advocate for the union's position, was the quiet voice of the many employees who have no interest in the union. These employees have been intimidated, threatened, and harassed.

The article never mentioned that the purported reduction in employee benefits, the action that precipitated the union vote, was always intended as a temporary measure, and as of the date of the article, some benefits have been restored. The article also fails to mention that largely owing to these and other cost-cutting initiatives, we avoided laying off workers, which is usually associated with companies in financial turmoil. Mr. Norman pointed out that in 2003 there was an eight-million-dollar loss (from continuing operations) but failed to report that in 2004 the hospital reported income of more than one million dollars. These results clearly validate the new administration's initiatives.

In fairness and accuracy, the article should have included the fact that union leader, media personality, and former employee Juan Carlos Cardenas was fired for cause from the hospital, not for union activities.

Mr. Norman quotes another former employee, Vicente Rodriguez, whose defamatory sneers and verbal sewage are quite distasteful. However, Mr. Norman failed to disclose that this individual has an ax to grind and was in fact terminated for issues unrelated to the union. Finally the author also did not disclose that the government investigations were directed at past administrations and covered the time period from 1995 to 2000, long before the current administration's tenure.

I spent a great deal of time with Forrest Norman and provided him with documentation regarding many of the errors and omissions I've mentioned. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth. The article was not balanced and did not reflect the truth about Pan American Hospital, a facility committed to providing quality and individualized patient care in the multicultural community it serves and to doing so in adherence with the highest ethical standards.

Vicente Sanchez, executive director

Pan American Hospital

Miami

What, Me Grimy?

Perhaps The Bitch is suffering from Mad Doggie Disease: Excuse me, my adorable little Bitchlette, but did you say there was something "grimy" about my civic activities in your piece "How's This for Miserable" (January 20)? Is The Bitch suggesting that because I didn't drink the anti-Home Depot Kool-Aid and follow the torch-bearing villagers up the hill, there is something wrong with the way I handle my volunteer community activities?

Has the once adventuresome and free-spirited New Times grown so hidebound and Red State-ish that it now condemns those who have the temerity to depart from groupthink orthodoxy?

Lordy, lordy! What has caused our once-crusading Bitch to so totally take leave of her doggie senses? Maybe a bad Bitch biscuit?

Seth Gordon

Coconut Grove

Liquor: Art World Lubricant

Gallery openings go better with gallons of vodka:I have been following the flack in response to The Bitch's potshots at the January 7 reception at ArtCenter/South Florida on Lincoln Road. The arty party was in celebration of Artécity's handout of $17,500 in awards to the winners of the Art in the City competition ("Condoflage," January 13). One of the competition's two judges, Alessandro Ferretti, is the CEO/managing partner of South Beach's $100 million Artécity condominium development.

I didn't read the original potshots taken by The Bitch, but I was at the ArtCenter party. I understand The Bitch felt there was something flaky about the gallons of Grey Goose vodka ladled out in huge martini glasses to the distinguished guests. Grey Goose, as The Bitch knows, is an arty vodka. It is artistically packaged in an attempt to create the illusion of a sophisticated French masterpiece. The product certainly looks expensive -- and it is, weighing in at roughly $36 per bottle. Many imbibers have reportedly been bedazzled by the brilliant bottle alone, thought themselves much richer than they really were after partaking, and saddled themselves with debt.

Alcohol has been a traditional sales tool ever since natives were induced to sell their real estate for a bottle of it, then buy back a small piece of it after drinking another bottle. I do not drink booze, so at the artéparty I asked for a soda pop, expecting to be handed one of the dinky bottles of Izze pop. I was given a tumbler containing one ounce of pop and three ice cubes. It may have been free, but it reminded me of the five bucks I was charged for six ounces of seltzer water in a disposable glass at Art Basel's Miami Scope show, so I felt rather bitchy to begin with. I read the letter from Artécity publicist Dindy Yokel (January 20) in response to the bitching. She presented her case rather well, but she should have refrained from the personal aspersions regarding the alleged immaturity of The Bitch. But Yokel's own sophomoric bitching leaves her vulnerable. For instance, she resorted to the parent-child approach -- as if her mental development had been arrested in high school -- to what she arrogantly perceives as "infantile" back talk. She projected her own deficiencies onto The Bitch, stating that criticism will arrest the development of the entire community. Her puerile putdown invited a counterattack, indicating her own professional incompetence.

I like to end my letters with a positive suggestion. Here it is: I suggest that steak always be served with the vodka at art openings.

David Arthur Walters

South Beach

Bravura Performance

Not the opera -- the review: I have read all the newspaper reports on the Florida Grand Opera's production of Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan and found Octavio Roca's "Myths Over America" (January 13) to be the clearest, fairest, and most objective.

Having been present at two rehearsals (including dress) plus opening night, I was later distressed at the lack of objectivity in the reviews from other critics, almost as if they had some agenda to uphold.

I live in Italy and happened to be in Miami last month. I hope in future visits to see productions at this level.

Sharon Sage

Florence, Italy

More Than Just Drug Cartels

Cali also knows how to party: I read Leila Cobo's story about La Feria de Cali ("Pura Rumba," January 13) and wanted to say that every year around Christmas my mind goes back to my first (and last) trip to Cali, Colombia, in 1987. It was also my first time drinking aguardiente.

When our chiva headed out in the boonies to pick up more people, we decided to get on the roof toward the very back. In those days I could hold my liquor (so I thought). I went to get up as the bus started moving and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground watching the red taillights fade into the distance.

I sobered up at the thought of being a gringo in the middle of nowhere, of being robbed -- or worse, kidnapped. Luckily another chiva came along, and it took me in pursuit of the one from which I'd fallen. Eventually I met up with my so-called friends in Cali's rumba district. It turned out to be a great night, followed by many more in the succeeding months.

All you hear about Colombia is the negative. I was all over the country and only had one minor problem at an army roadblock, but a handful of pesos cleared up the misunderstanding. (The bottom line about Colombia is this: There are certain places you just don't go.) Congratulations to Leila Cobo for a well-told story that did not mention drugs, kidnappings, or violence of any kind.

Frank Sudore

Tamarac

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