Letters from the Issue of September 1 , 2005

Killing sports, dumping Dolphins, and some Miami history

Another Bahamas Mystery

Snatched in the middle of the night: I read Bob Norman's four-part series about the disappearance of Gary Weaver (August 4, 11, 18, 25) and was struck by the similarities to a crisis in my own family. My cousin's cousin disappeared under mysterious circumstances around the same time, in the early Eighties. He was involved in the drug trade.

We got word he was involved in a plane crash in the Bahamas. The plane was apparently way overloaded with cocaine, overshot the runway, and crashed. He was supposed to be in the hospital with a shattered arm. His mother, on hearing about it, took a flight there to meet him. When she arrived at the hospital, he wasn't there and no one had ever heard of him. One person came forward and said yes, he had been there and was removed in the middle of the night. No one has seen him since.

John Branch

Florida City

The Ultimate Sports Penalty

FIU knows what to do with teams that are grossly overbudget: As interim director of athletics at FIU, I was the person responsible for the elimination of men's tennis and men's golf in 1999, not 2001 as Tristram Korten's story suggests ("What's That Cop Doing in Our Huddle?" August 11).

Also let me assure your readers that the reason for the elimination of those two sports was they were grossly overbudget. Men's golf was a constant money-losing sport without a head coach. Before taking on the added expense of hiring another head coach and continuing losing money, it was decided to eliminate the sport. Men's tennis, although having a head coach, was grossly overbudget also. Football was never a part of the equation.

The elimination of these two sports caused much personal grief. However, the athletic department did the right thing by extending the scholarships to the student-athletes affected in these two sports until they either transferred to another university or graduated.

In the long run, FIU had no choice. With very little financial support from the community and little or no coverage in the local media, the future was very bleak at that time. If Mr. Korten had simply contacted me, instead of assuming the reason for the elimination of these two sports, he would have learned that.

Check all of your facts. It'll make your publication a bit more credible.

José Sotolongo

Miami

Dolphins: Enough Already

Messing with the logo is a proven loser of an idea: You guys have it all wrong. For starters, the Dolphins changed their logo prior to the 1997 season because owner Wayne Huizenga wanted a meaner look. Prior to the change in logo, the Dolphins, although not having won a championship in years, were consistently among the AFC upper tier. Since the switch in logos and colors in 1997, the Dolphins have been a disgrace, losing blowout playoff games at New England in 1997, at Denver in 1998, at Jacksonville in 1999, and at Oakland in 2000.

Until the logo switch, the Dolphins were consistently among the top five merchandise sellers in the entire nation. Last year, with the new "meaner" look, the Dolphins ranked fourteenth.

The Dolphins were always a likable team that attracted a national following. In the Seventies the team proved to be a counterweight for those who wanted good guys to root for instead of the Raiders or Steelers. Now the Dolphins have lost their identity, and what your publication is proposing is that the Dolphins throw out what remains of their 40 years of history and adopt a tacky symbol like the Patriots (who can easily be confused with Bank of America) or the Broncos. The Dolphins now have only a regional following and even that is eroding. I think better models are two classic NFL franchises -- the Bears and Packers. Both have done little to alter their uniforms and logos through the years and, win or lose, they still have a strong fan base and a strong identity.

Kartik Krishnaiyer

Delray Beach

Editor's note: Next week's issue will feature the winning entries in our "Dump This Dolphin!" design contest.

Stop This Bickering!

Allow me to settle the "Cubans made Miami" debate: Readers of New Times have now seen one ridiculous letter by Ronnie Fox ("Voting Republican Can Induce Delusions," July 21) answered with an equally ridiculous letter from Henry Gomez ("Sleepy Old Miami," August 11). I would appreciate the opportunity to respond rationally to both of them.

It's hard to say which is more absurd -- blaming Cuban immigrants for all the ills of Miami, or crediting them and them alone for all the growth and development that has taken place here. As far as political corruption goes -- well! In South Florida, nothing is as equal-opportunity as political corruption. I cannot think of a single major ethnic or racial group here that hasn't had a plentiful share of it, both from public officials and from those who work for and/or with them. Miami has been infested with corruption ever since Henry Flagler used a number of devious means to get the city incorporated and install his own slate of officials back in 1896.

Of course the Cuban-American vote was instrumental in electing Bush in 2000. So was the Anglo vote, the black vote, the Puerto Rican vote, the Green Party vote, the antique dealers' vote, the swingers' vote, the electricians' vote, and maybe even the Albanian-American vote. As Gomez himself admits, a switch of 269 votes anywhere in Florida would have put Al Gore in the White House.

As far as Elian Gonzalez goes, Gore's position, which I eventually came around to and which was advocated by spokesmen for "the Miami relatives," was that the matter should have been referred to family court.

Frankly I also don't understand why Cuban Americans are overwhelmingly Republican, although that is beginning to shift. What has any Republican administration given the anti-Castro movement other than rhetoric, and in the case of Reagan, eating arroz con pollo in downtown Miami? Kennedy badly flubbed the Bay of Pigs, and I can understand the bitterness over that; but he handled the missile crisis masterfully, causing the Soviets to back down. During Reagan's years in office, travel to Cuba was freely available (something I personally support) and even same-night air excursions to the Tropicana nightclub were being advertised on local radio. As far as the U.S. missiles removed from Turkey, they were just about obsolete anyway.

It was Bill Clinton who signed the Helms-Burton Act, and George W. Bush, just like Clinton, has consistently waived the one provision of the law that has teeth in it. Meanwhile it's Bush who has added gratuitously cruel new provisions to the Cuba travel restrictions. Thousands of Cuban and Cuban-American families have been victimized by it.

Castro running out of lifelines? The island is flooded with Canadian and European tourists, and Castro is forging new economic links with China.

Now let's talk about "sleepy little Miami." I arrived here in January 1960. The population of Greater Miami was approaching one million. Downtown was alive at night, with stores and the library open, and three movie theaters. I went to concerts put on by the Friends of Chamber Music, the University of Miami symphony, and the Opera Guild. Neighborhoods that are now totally blighted, such as Little River, were attractive and clean. The first-ever domestic air route using jets had just been established by National Airlines between New York and Miami -- that's how I arrived! We had a booming airport, two passenger rail lines, and two bus lines. New malls were going up. We had two English-language daily papers, a long-established black weekly paper, and the Spanish-language daily Diario las Americas had already been publishing for several years. The Julia Tuttle Causeway had just been opened, and the big Miami Beach hotels (and many of the smaller ones) were crowded, offering world-class entertainment. Ocean Drive was a retirement village, but Lincoln Road had just become a pedestrian-only street and was still a busy place, with high-end shops and two movie theaters. The beaches were just as busy then as there are now. Overtown was still an entertainment mecca, before new highways and -- ironically -- the Civil Rights Act induced its decline. Yes, like all the South, Miami labored under the curse of legal segregation, but as I recall, it was the Democratic administration of Lyndon Johnson that put a final end to that.

It would be nice to see an end to this ever-recurring "ethnic food fight" in these pages!

Richard Rosichan

Miami Beach

Best Irresponsible Sentence

The "Best of Miami" is still fresh -- freshly offensive, that is: The use of print requires extreme responsibility, which seems to have been missing from the introduction to "Best of Miami" 2005 (May 12). The introduction contained this sentence about ballot-stuffing: "Eric Lampinstein, Miami Beach chiropractor..., managed to hustle 60 people into putting signature to photocopied ballot containing one and only one category, which we didn't and in the future definitely won't ask."

Earlier this year a patient came to my office and asked my permission if he could spend the day asking patients to fill out a "Best of Miami" ballot for your paper. He thought by having patients fill out this ballot it would allow other people to experience the same benefits he received under chiropractic care at my office. He personally sent these ballots to your paper using his own time.

You turned something good into something false and degrading.

Dr. Eric Lampinstein

Miami Beach

Best Effort to Correct the Record

This "Best of Miami" is ancient history, but not for her: Regarding "Best Typo" in the 2004 "Best of Miami," actually the typo in Miami Today was the result of copyediting error in which the acronym HABDI (Homestead Air Base Developers) was replaced with the word happy. It was done while the final pages were being spell checked before going to press. The person doing production either replaced it because they thought it was a typo or their spell checker automatically replaced it.

I did not think I heard happy during my interview nor did I make the typo. I realize this was more than a year ago, but I would appreciate it if you could correct this.

Shannon Pettypiece

Miami

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