Letters from the Issue of August 4, 2005

Response to "Tales of Teele," published July 28, 2005

Arthur Teele may have had his faults but just in case Mayor Alvarez didn't know it, Mr. Teele brought talent, White House experience, and knowledge when he came to Miami nearly twenty years ago. Among many other things, he secured funding for a transportation system that brought clout to Miami at a time when this County badly needed it. Not only did he serve our country in war, and later serve President Reagan in the White House, but in 1990, against everyone's advice he challenged one of the grand dames of Dade County politics, Barbara Carey, and won a County Commission seat. He rose to the position of Commission Chair.

When he ran for Mayor of Miami-Dade, he had a record to run on. Vietnam veteran, head of Urban Mass Transit Administration, City Commissioner, County Commissioner, Commission Chair, a Son of Florida who grew up in this fine state and attended two of our fine universities. He earned a law degree from Florida State at a time when African Americans weren't exactly met there by the welcome wagon. That took tenacity and courage. In a colorless society, Arthur Teele would have defeated then little known and much less qualified Alex Penelas and become the first African American mayor of a Southern city larger than Atlanta. That would have been history making, but this is not a colorless society and Miami is not known for making history in a good way.

Every African American in this country 40 and over is familiar with the Jim Crow Motto "blacks get back, but browns can stick around and whites, always right." Perhaps after loosing that election, the sting of that statement struck a chord of anger and bitterness in him that he was never able to loose himself from -- even though he played the role well.

After all, he would have been Mayor had a certain group of voters in our community chosen a person's qualifications over cultural heritage as the basis for electing a mayor. With all he had achieved and with all he'd done for this area maybe being black, qualified, and yet denied took its toll on him.

He did come back and win a City of Miami Commission seat, some would argue, but serving on the Commission in a carved out historically "black seat" doesn't compare to being Mayor of Miami-Dade in an election that he should have won except, if we'll all be honest, he was the wrong skin color and wasn't bilingual. Nevertheless he had courage. In the nearly 10 years since he ran for Miami-Dade Mayor, no other African American has yet to run, let alone win in a popular countywide election save Miriam Oliphant in Broward, and we saw what happened to her. She wasn't destroyed by a collaboration between the Miami Herald and wealthy downtown developers in the same way that Teele was, but someone wanted her out of the way too.

If all that's been said and written about Mr. Teele is true, he made some very wrong choices that led to some pitiful transgressions and he'll have to answer for those with his maker just as all of us who've done anything wrong, including every blood-stained news reporter trying to rid themselves of guilt now by saying "I was just doing my job" will. In the meantime there will be plenty of time for his detractors to throw dirt at him, so what the Mayor should have done is shown some decency and at least waited until his family had a chance to bury him. Dirt usually goes on top of a casket at burial.

Denise Thornton

Miami Gardens

If it weren't for Arthur Teele committing suicide, I never even would have heard of your paper. Though your paper might not have standards quite as high as the community's standards, you ought to honor the community by dropping the Teele piece. It's in such bad taste. Your reporter said he was "only" doing his job when he wrote the piece. I read it (I assure you, it's the first and last piece I read from your paper), and it was not journalism. It was sensationalism. While Teele was no angel, the facts did not back up the allegations the reporter made. Art Teele would have gone down eventually on his own, it seems. He didn't need your writer to push him off the cliff.

Suzannah Gilman

Orlando

Remove the online article about Teele, please, which is little more than Yellow Press, unamusing, and insensitive. Realize the antics of the publication drove a man to desperate measures. Miami New Times caters to a largely unintelligent readership that don't really read. You come across as an ambitious entity with your exposés at the expense of others in a corrupt and unsavory sort of way as Arthur Teele himself. Show some respect and transcend with a little sensibility and make this city better with imagination and talent.

I don't read your publication, but I witness it and I ask myself: Do you even have a vision as an editor? What subtle relationship does Veronica have with Teele?

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