Letters from the Issue of April 7, 2005

Arrogant politicians, fateful gunplay, Home Depot alternatives, steamy swamps

Your Elected Officials at Work

Government of the people, by the arrogant, for the developers: It is tempting to blame the developers of the 50-story Onyx 2, Willy Bermello and Gustavo Miculitzki, for the travesty soon to be visited upon NE 28th Street, as reported by Forrest Norman in "The Ultimate Nasty Neighbor" (March 31). But the real culprit is the City of Miami, and especially the city commission.

Developers develop, as quickly, as big, and as profitably as possible -- that's their job. The city's job is to regulate growth and protect the neighborhoods. For some reason, however, City of Miami officials, both the elected and appointed kind, feel that fast-track development is also their job, maybe even their main job. At meetings of the city's planning board, slick attorneys requesting zoning variances or other favors are routinely addressed by their first names, which makes the cozy relationship between the city and the development community pretty obvious. And at city commission meetings, elected officials make it very clear how little they care about the wishes and needs of ordinary citizens. Will traffic be a problem? Tough. Will the developer be given a strip of land collectively owned by the neighbors? Yes. Will anything at all stand in the way of Bermello and Miculitzki -- or for that matter, will anyone at all stand up for the neighbors? No.

The fact that Onyx 2, a huge condominium project, was approved with virtually no debate is hardly an anomaly. In the City of Miami, developers rule, the people count for nothing, and the commissioners never apologize.

Michael Carlebach

Coconut Grove

Let Mario Go

Any government with half a brain would drop these charges: I thank Francisco Alvarado for having the courage to tell it like it is in his story about 26-year-old Mario Barcia, who is charged with attempted murder of a police officer ("Scorned and on the Record," March 31). I have the utmost respect for law enforcement, or as I like to call them, "peace officers." They are only human like us, and they can make mistakes. They made a big mistake with this illegal arrest and persecution of Mr. Barcia.

Their mistake put fear into the life of an innocent, law-abiding soul on his own property, who did what he thought was right in defending his life and his family. To charge him with a crime, when police were trying to get into his home in the middle of the night, is simply not right.

The officers are lucky to be alive. Miami-Dade County Police Ofcr. Chad Murphy was shot by Barcia, who thought he was an intruder. [Murphy's bullet-proof vest saved his life.] Murphy's actions degrade the integrity of the badge when he won't take responsibility for his improper actions. He could have knocked on the front door of Barcia's home if he wanted to make sure the situation was safe. A responsible public servant like Barcia would never shoot without justification. He knows all too well what the consequences would be.

As for Murphy's former girlfriend, Elena Rosen, I believe her account of the breakup of her relationship with the officer. I'm sure phone records will bear out her story about the text message on Murphy's phone [suggesting he was having an affair], and then we'll learn what cell phone it came from. Ms. Rosen is a school teacher, and I for one hold them in pretty high esteem. Furthermore she comes from a law-enforcement family. There must be plenty of integrity there.

The sad part is that all too many times when something happens involving law enforcement, it seems the regular Joe on the street doesn't stand a chance against them. Barcia sold his home to pay his legal bills and was suspended without pay from his job as a court clerk. Is that not the icing on the cake?

If my government had half a brain in this case, they'd drop the charges immediately and make a decent financial settlement with Barcia and his family. Let this poor soul get on with his life.

Myron Lieberman

South Beach

There Is More to Life

than Home Depot

As I pleasantly discovered when I began my boycott: Reading The Bitch's column about Home Depot and Seth Gordon's resignation as president of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce ("Grovers Are Gloating," March 3) reminded me that once upon a time I mindlessly shopped Home Depot. Why? Because I thought they had everything under one roof. Sure, I frequented Shell Lumber and appreciated their ever-helpful staff. However, that big orange icon drew me in. It wasn't until Home Depot set its sights on Coconut Grove that I began to question things. Do I really need a fourth Home Depot within twenty minutes of home?

I started by requesting information in query letters to several of their corporate officers. To my surprise I got no response, not even a form letter of minimal substance. It was just like writing letters to Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton. Gee whiz, even President Bush's office answers with meaningless letters and a fancy seal. Home Depot didn't even reply when I threatened a boycott that included a kitchen renovation of approximately $20,000.

My boycott has been a fun learning experience. For instance, I just rediscovered Poe's Rentals on South Dixie Highway, which reminded me of the old My-am-uh of my youth -- you know, before the architecture of the Magic City became shimmering smoke and obscure mirrors. And I learned that Sunny South Paints actually gets the colors true the first time around.

Are you feeling powerless with regard to Home Depot's designs on the Grove Gate Shopping Center? If so, I urge you to put your consumer buying power to work and join in the boycott. Support your local small businesses. You certainly won't miss the frenzied Home Depot parking lots and the anonymous staff hiding in their beeping forklifts. You'll be amazed at all the little treasures still in our midst.

John Barimo

Coconut Grove

Prosecution or Persecution?

If you're going to charge one, charge them all: Regarding the story "The Drowned and the Saved" by Francisco Alvarado (March 3), the state is prosecuting Donald David Diener on felony child neglect and aggravated manslaughter charges because he let his stepdaughters play near the water. [Four-year-old Rainey Hillman drowned after falling into the water at Haulover Park Marina.] But what about the other children the girls were playing with at the time? Has the State Attorney's Office charged those equally negligent parents? Why not? They committed the exact same crime, and the law applies to all.

It looks like another case of a prosecutor trying to score an easy conviction to build up his record -- not a crackdown on negligent parents.

Chris Jahn

Coral Gables

From One Swamp to Another

The difference -- our swamp is a national park: My husband and I are soon leaving the swamp-cum-Bush frat party we call D.C. for Miami (by choice). Although we have visited many times, we are still pretty overwhelmed trying to figure out what makes Miami tick.

New Times has been a lifesaver. Real news, real recommendations, and good info that doesn't sound like it belongs in a SoBe hotel "info" guide. Now we have a good idea of what we'll love (and hate) about our new home -- and hey, what intersections to avoid!

Thanks again.

Tristan Cameron

Washington, D.C.

Pummeled Posteriors

Dan Savage is not for the faint of heart: I think it's great that New Times carries "Savage Love." Dan Savage kicks ass!

Rebecca Chancy

Miami

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