Crocodile Tears for Cowboys in Gatorland
I almost cried reading Jacob Bernstein's romantic and touching drivel about the 8 1-2 Square Mile Area's cowboys ("Home on the Glades," March 18). But I wish to clarify a few points.

First things first. To my knowledge nothing sinister or underhanded or vengeful is involved in the plan for a government buyout of property from private landholders, part of the effort to save the Everglades.

When I was a child, my family had its land bought by the government for a bridge approach that was necessary to facilitate traffic in and out of Philadelphia. The price paid was better than fair market value, and we moved to another area near where we had lived. We, too, had lived on the land for a long period of time (much longer than the cowboys), but saw that our sacrifice was necessary for this important project. There is a time when the good of the masses is more important than the perceived hardship of the few. That is at the core of the American way, a concept that may not be fully appreciated by the cowboys.

Now let me address these poor, downtrodden individuals who are being victimized, especially the family with 50 horses, one with $1200 semen. It would seem that if all these neighborly people got together and pooled their settlements, they would be more than able to buy enough land to be able to spit out their windows without hitting the person next door. I'm sure there's other swampland for sale in the southeastern United States.

When I looked at the photographs accompanying the article, I did not see any black or Asian types, so I had to assume that when Ibel Aguilera said perhaps this was a "racial" issue, it was a typographical error. Surely anyone so connected must have at least a basic understanding of the makeup of the human race. The last time I checked my grammar school textbooks concerning the races, I did not see any mention of Hispanics being a separate race. I believe that most of the people mentioned in the article are ordinary Caucasians, just like me, but who happen to speak Spanish.

The Everglades are dying, that much is undisputed. They are dying because of unregulated, unpermitted building that has occurred for many more years than I can remember. Any effort to restore it should be supported by any unselfish, intelligent person with any feelings at all for the rest of the human race. From what I read in this article, no one mentioned can claim to have such traits.

Martin Alexander

Britain Ripped Me Off
I fully sympathize with Larry Boytano's ordeal as related in "Taken for a Ride" (March 18) because another Brit cheated me for exactly the same amount of money. Only I haven't had Larry's satisfaction of seeing the crook behind bars.

A couple of years ago I was commissioned by a slick British trade magazine to write a piece on Latin American aviation. After the number of words, subject matter, and fee ($500) were agreed upon by fax, I wrote the article and the magazine featured it in its January 1997 issue. But when it came time to collect my bill, the person I dealt with vanished from Earth. No phone calls to him or his publication were returned. No faxes were answered.

After months of trying to collect, I finally phoned the British consul general in Miami and told him quite plainly that I could have expected such shabby treatment from Yemen or some banana republic, but not from the United Kingdom, that paradigm of honesty and fair play. A nice-enough gentleman, he promised to intervene through some London organization that is supposed to uphold Britain's proper business image abroad. That was the last I heard from the consul about my claim.

I am $500 poorer and am no longer an Anglophile. Beware, friends and colleagues.

Luis Zalamea

Circle Jerks: Save the Hollywood Circle!
Finally someone in the news media has taken a less-than-serious look at the Miami Circle tumult. Thank you, Jim DeFede ("Circle Jerks," March 11). I mean, come on; every time we turn over a rock in this country, we cry "historic preservation!" I'm for keeping meaningful treasures as much as the next person, but if we were to place everything we uncover on the endangered-building list, we'd have no redevelopment whatsoever and downtown Miami would resemble a bombed-out, gap-toothed moonscape where nothing could be built and everything is sealed off or encased in plastic for historical study.

Imagine some 2000 years from now, as South Floridians puzzle over the strange circular structure uncovered just twenty miles north of what was once called downtown Miami. Found astride an old trail marked U.S. 1, this so-called Hollywood Circle causes a great uproar because it looks like it may have been a kind of shrine, dotted with strange metallic posts in which it appears sacred tokens were to be inserted; other metal basketlike, wheeled vehicles were unearthed, apparently meant to convey religious artifacts, attested to by the word Publix attached to the sides of each vehicle.

Thought to be a celestial measuring device or possibly a religious monument of long-gone ancestors, the site would be sealed and left for people to wonder about for another millennium or so. "Who needs yet another spaceport?" asked the preservationists. "The past is much more important to our future.

Bill Adams

Circle Jerks: Hypocrites' Delight
I agree with everything Jim DeFede said about the Miami Circle. These politicians have to be the most hypocritical I've ever seen. They are more concerned about dying animals and this freaking circle than they are about human beings. They should put their efforts into making Miami into a better city instead of wasting their time in such a self-serving cause.

Mr. DeFede is one of the few people who make sense in this godforsaken city.
Al Boateng

Circle Jerks: Rush Limbaugh Would Have Been Proud
Damn carbon dating! As Jim DeFede suggested, a buried '63 Chevy would have been a much cooler downtown tourist attraction. DeFede's excellent parody of Rush Limbaugh writing about the Miami Circle was a stitch. Who else but our very own local couch-potato journalist, the man who openly admits that his idea of investigative reporting is sitting around watching old county commission videotapes, could deliver such clever satire?

Some weeks it seems like every columnist at the Herald is doing his or her best Dave Barry imitation. It's great to read a straight-ahead Limbaugh knockoff for a change. Good job, Jimbo! Claiming to be the very first guy in town to say the new Heat arena is ugly and completely out of proportion was classic Rush braggadocio! The tasteless American Indian comments and that bit at the end about a child with a shiny new penny were delightfully twisted.

Mayor Alex Penelas tells us he is frantically trying to get in touch with Mr. Eco-Groovy, Al Gore. The commission meets and votes, and the next day the veep is in Miami Beach talking to labor unions about, among other things, pension money. Any in-your-face rescue-the-circle, save-union-pensioners, new-national-monument, federal-buyout questions from the press corp? Not while there's chips and dip around.

Earth to DeFede: There is no such thing as bad press. Keep writing about the Circle, Jimbo. You're cracking us up!

Paul Berry

Circle Jerks: True Facts Uncovered by Testy Editor
Jim DeFede's onanistic article "Circle Jerks" incorrectly attributes the "very first story" written about the circle to the Miami Herald. A little fact-checking would have uncovered that the story was actually broken by Danielle Serino on The Times on November 20, 1998.

Matti Leshem, editor-in-chief
Miami Beach

Circle Jerks: To Preserv It Is to Hide It
DeFede's article took me back to the mid-Eighties, when similar attention was drawn to South Dade's Deering Estate Annex, where a similar group of people were digging around and discovering 10,000-year-old artifacts and fossils. The property was then put up for sale and Finlay Matheson wanted to purchase it to use as his own personal home. He also agreed to allow public access to those interested in seeing the archaeological site.

I helped lobby for the use of state CARL funds to purchase and keep the property out of private hands, thereby preserving the treasures. But for what purpose I am not certain. The public has never been able to enjoy or see these cultural jewels, and after the money was allocated to buy the Deering annex, the archeological site was posted, fenced, and the caves buried under tons of sand. So much for preservation.

Maybe the public needs to know that preserving the Miami Circle means isolating it from the public. This club of preservationists does not want this archeological site or any other site like it to be in private hands. More important they do not want the public's grubby hands on the circle either. They do, however, want your money to pay for it.

Let the developer put a condo over it. One hundred years from now, when the building has lost its value, it will be torn down. Then local government may have the technology to determine the circle's origin, purpose, and its value to mankind. Then we may also have the public interest and funds to appreciate the true value of such a find.

J. Byron Jordan

Virginia Key Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!
Regarding Jacob Bernstein's article "Who's Afraid of Virginia Key?" (March 4), another piece of pristine property belonging to the people of Miami-Dade County is under siege once again. Virginia Key does not exist for the greedy, personal exploitation of the five dickheads commonly known as the Miami City Commission. Virginia Key is not theirs to sell to the highest bidder. Virginia Key needs no commercial development; we can bring our own sandwiches and soda, thank you very much! We don't need any stinking hot dog stands and boat rentals and the noise of watercraft.

In 1995 the vote was no. What part of no don't those five incompetent mental retards understand? And what law permits my no vote to be turned into yes by these insipid, untrustworthy bastards?

Charles Travaglio

Miami: Proud of Its Foreign Policy
Timba, timba, timba, with each beat of the rhythmic drums, city officials see shades of red. As Kirk Nielsen offered in "Miracle on 29th Street" (February 25), welcome to Miami, welcome to the world of the gumshoe bureaucrat.

Don't waste your time trying to explain that Miami is a world-class city or that the world is changing fast, and those cities that don't get onboard will get run over. It's difficult to deal with a city government whose manner is road kill.

Clyde Cates
South Miami


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