Letters from the Issue of August 11 , 2005

Evil condo developers, Cuban city builders, and more about Art Teele

Mr. Fox sounds like an uninformed hater who wants his sleepy little Miami back. Unfortunately for him there's no putting the genie back in the bottle. So he's either going to have to learn to live with and try to understand Cubans or he's going to be miserable.

Henry Gomez

Miami

Arthur Teele, Jr., and "Tales of Teele"

New Times editor Jim Mullin suggests there are certain circumstances under which the acceptance of public office necessarily carries with it a renunciation of the right to personal privacy ("In the Aftermath," August 4). I take issue with his supporting reasons. His explanation for not winking at Arthur Teele's private conduct is based on the public disclosure of audits, criminal investigations, and talking witnesses. I agree that one of the best watchdogs of the public purse can be a free and vigorous press. My concern, however, is that his rationale is sufficiently elastic in its application to justify a no-holds-barred approach. By his own admission, very little in the State Attorney's investigative report about Teele was fully substantiated. Given the persistent anti-gay prejudice in this community, it was disingenuous for him to present an analogy between extramarital heterosexual and homosexual encounters.

Let others judge Teele for his shortcomings. Let us instead consider the evident gusto with which certain journalists report alleged wrongdoing. To that group, the need to be first to tell the story is more important than the need to treat the subject (target?) as innocent until proven guilty.

Mullin's comments lend urgency to the need for more frequent and open debate about ethical guides that might inform our judgments outside the narrow parameters of public scandal and private sexual morality.

Mervyn M. Solomon

Miami

In "Tales of Teele" (July 28) reference was made to my client, A-1-A Employment of Miami, which placed A-1-A in a false and demeaning light. Francisco Alvarado's story stated, "The CRA [Community Redevelopment Agency] hired numerous personnel through A-1-A ... with questionable backgrounds and dubious duties." The implication that A-1-A provided personnel to the CRA with questionable backgrounds and dubious duties is not true. The CRA referred to A-1-A individuals the agency wished to hire. The City of Miami contract, in which A-1-A was a successful bidder, did not require A-1-A to conduct criminal background investigations on the referred personnel, nor did the CRA verbally request such background investigations.

The fact that the CRA sought out an employment agency capable and qualified to extend payroll services and workers compensation insurance to selected personnel is not an unusual practice. In fact it is standard in the staffing industry for employment agencies to provide such services as a convenience for the client.

In addition, A-1-A as an employment agency does not and did not dictate the job responsibilities of personnel hired by the CRA. To suggest that A-1-A was somehow responsible for the duties performed by personnel selected and hired by CRA is also not true.

A-1-A Employment of Miami has a reputation for providing personnel who meet and exceed all qualifications specified by its clients. The company has earned that reputation through a proven history of placing qualified personnel in many businesses across the state. "Tales of Teele" tainted A-1-A's well-deserved reputation for dignity and integrity. Most troubling, however, is the fact that the article was not only distributed throughout the South Florida area but also worldwide via the Internet. The amount of harm to our client cannot be measured.

Valerie Kiffin Lewis, Esq.

Fort Lauderdale

Editor's note: The passages in "Tales of Teele" to which Ms. Lewis objects were reprinted verbatim from a police investigation into Arthur Teele, Jr. The investigative report was released to the public May 4, 2005, by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

Miami is a unique and picturesque place with a vibrant nightlife, a fantastic culinary palette, a blossoming artistic community, and charming neighborhoods, many of which are being revived. So is it all that surprising that in a city with so much going on, a real-life telenovela has unfolded before our very eyes?

Art Teele was for many years an exemplary public servant, but as with all politicians and public figures, what they do is not as important as what they promise to do. Teele was able to ride into town and become a local hero for African Americans and the impoverished -- no small feat. Perhaps what many of the angry readers who've written to New Times didn't realize was that the majority of "Tales of Teele" consisted of direct passages from the investigation of Teele by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

The real climax of this story is not Teele's tragic, self-inflicted death but the overwhelming response and reaction by the public. Interestingly more people were worked up about the exposé of Teele's personal life than they were about the criminal allegations. Perhaps the only detail that truly bothered them was the idea Teele could have engaged in sex with a transgender prostitute. Strangely enough, it wasn't the fact he might have done it as much as it was the fact you printed it that got everyone up in arms.

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