Lorion: I Was Slimed
I was flattered that esteemed New Times writer Jake Bernstein and your exceptional publication found my resignation from the formal environmental movement newsworthy enough for an article ("Resignation Indignation," December 31). But I was sad to read that unnamed former peers question whether my opposition to buying out the 81-2 Square Mile Area is part of some sinister plot to open the Everglades to development. This bizarre insinuation is as baseless as the claim that this area must be purchased to restore the Everglades.
Rather than disagree with me on the facts, these anonymous character assassins disregarded my twenty years of volunteer environmental work. They seized on my consultation with the Miccosukee Tribe, who love the Glades as much as I do, to try to explain my decision to break ranks. The government's ill-advised plan calls for destruction of 350 homes and 1500 lives under the guise of Everglades restoration.
I am honored that the Miccosukee Indians, the first environmentalists, allow me to help them in the struggle to save their homeland. I am grateful they respect my right to speak out on what I believe is right for the Everglades ... even if it contradicts popular environmental wisdom. I love working for people who demand that decisions about the Everglades be based on fact and science, rather than hyperbole and myth.
I won't apologize for visiting the 81-2 Square Mile Area and reviewing the facts myself. I am surprised that other well-intentioned environmentalists rely on assertions by officials of Everglades National Park and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
My decision was not premeditated. Au contraire, a few months prior to the district meeting, I visited the area at a resident's request. I wanted to confront the victims of a buyout that was allegedly necessary to save the Everglades. I discovered real people who loved the land, many who came to this country on a raft and built their homes and their lives as part of a search for the American dream.
I delved further. I discovered an alleged public process that was unfair, undemocratic, and treated living, breathing human beings like poker chips. A thorough review of the documents, and consultation with hydrologists, caused me to deem that buyout of the 81-2 Square Mile Area as unnecessary. I concluded that buyout was bad not only for the people, but for the Everglades, because it would delay implementation of a critical project.
Bernstein's article correctly reported that I would not disclose my salary. It's a private matter, but I don't mind telling you that I drive a 1989 Volvo. As for the prominent environmentalist who declined to be identified when casting aspersions on my motives ... it's easy to remain prominent if you don't have to defend insupportable statements. It's easier to depersonalize the people whose land and homes you covet than to have a healthy debate on the facts. Oh, for the environmentalists of old who were not homogenized, singular of opinion, nor afraid to have their names attached to their comments.
I was drawn to the environmental cause more than twenty years ago because it was populated by volunteers whose love of nature was commensurate with their love of social justice. Indeed, Marjory Stoneman Douglas (fondly dubbed "ecosaint" by Bernstein) fought for social justice issues and women's rights, as well as the Everglades. Respect for human rights and the dignity of the individual must once again become part of the environmental cause or we will lose both the struggle and our soul.
As for my position on the 81-2 Square Mile Area, I'm willing to change my mind if any named peers confront me with persuasive facts.
Glades Dwellers, Say Hello to the Klingons!
I am writing in reference to "Resignation Indignation." I just saw Star Trek: Insurrection, in which the Ba'ku, a small peaceful agricultural colony, is being evicted to provide eternal life for millions of Federation inhabitants. It reminded me of the people in the 81-2 Square Mile Area who have the right to remain on their land. They bought it legally and they pay taxes. Congress passed a law providing them with flood protection and nobody should be above Congress. I hope that the SFWMD board will be replaced by the new Bush administration and justice will prevail. We just need Captain Picard to come to the rescue.
UM Cops, Get Thee to the Gables
Regarding Tristram Korten's article "Keystone Cops at College" (December 31), I think Ofcr. Andrew Allocco's fate is ridiculous. I understand problems with radio communication. That is something that should not be ignored. I also think UM should not have its own police department. The school should have a private security company in addition to beefed-up Gables Police presence. The UMPD officers should be allowed to join the Coral Gables Police Department.
Give Allocco a Gold Star
Regarding "Keystone Cops at College," I am shocked that these two police forces are not in sync with each other. I believe that Allocco is right. Too bad he was not honored for the bravery he showed by speaking the truth. It is a shame the police are not allowed to make public statements regarding such problems. No wonder there are deaths that go unsolved. For crying out loud, the officers cannot even contact each other. Why not give this young man a bonus rather than a reprimand? He certainly deserves one.
And how about letting the parents of the UM students know they have an insufficient, underequipped police force? Look at the tuition they pay. Surely the parents believe they are getting the best police and equipment as well as the best education. I say let the parents know! Maybe then the UM police will get the supplies they need. This young man deserves the gold star award for his bravery. Hurrah for Allocco!
Spartanburg, South Carolina
New Times: Good
UM Cops: Not So Good
I wonder why you guys haven't hired the staff of Tropic. If you had them and a coupon insert, I wouldn't even look at the Miami Herald anymore. You guys are terrific! I enjoy well-written and informative articles that are truly local and of interest (not always objective, but well written nonetheless).
In particular I want to comment on Tristram Korten's article "Keystone Cops at College." As a 1997 UM graduate I can speak for many people who lived on campus. First, the so-called rent-a-cops were a joke. No one took them seriously because we knew they were not officially part of the Coral Gables Police Department. They were a good attempt to make us feel safe that obviously didn't work, as demonstrated by the numerous car break-ins, dorm and campus apartment robberies, and attacks on campus.
It's sad that there were multiple attacks. One would think a private university that demands more than $20,000 annually for tuition, room, board, books, et cetera, could find a better security system. The gates are a joke because they only prevent cars from entering at unguarded points during the day. The night gate is attended by an officer who doesn't even look up as cars cruise past. There is no security check for night visitors. In fact the gate is often left open.
In addition to this lax security, anyone with a gun can just waltz right on to the campus during the day or night, as has happened in the past. The administration doesn't want to frighten anyone. Sorry to scare the kids who just arrived from the farm, but there are issues that need to be faced. Security would not be a problem if the rich decision-makers, who live off campus in their own guarded homes, thought realistically about situations all students face on campus.
Keep up the good work. You are an excellent voice of Miami!
StreetSmarts Is More Than Smarty-Pants Stuff
I thought Kathy Glasgow's "Brother, Can You Spare a Byline" (January 7) was a somewhat negative approach to an innovative attack on the homeless problem. It seems that Lynn Summers of the Community Partnership for Homeless is more interested in hiding the homeless in shelters than returning them to the workforce. Perhaps the community partnership has a vested interest in keeping the homeless numbers up to create jobs and prestige for themselves. Summers attacked the StreetSmarts concept as panhandling, but didn't offer an alternative. She appears typical of the Miami clique that wants to control everything.
Last week I bought a copy ofStreetSmarts from a vendor in South Miami. He was a pleasant man who was able to offer me something of value rather than simply begging. Having StreetSmarts to sell seems to have raised his self-respect. I am hopeful that he will sell enough papers to be encouraged to work for a living.
I have observed street newspapers as far away as my hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, where homeless sell The Big Issue. Properly identified with a vendor badge, they set themselves apart from the beggars lying on the sidewalk. It seems to work.
Publishers Frank Kaiser and Carolyn Blair face an uphill battle. I compliment them on the excellent quality of their editorial work and wish them success in their courageous effort to break through the barriers the establishment has created. And I commend New Times for enlightening readers about problems that Miami-Dade County would rather sweep under the rug.
She Has Read It -- Really!
I recently read Kathy Glasgow's article on the new street publication StreetSmarts and found the remarks by some of the people to be rather frightening. In particular Lynn Summers with the Community Partnership for Homeless says, "I do not believe...." It is not what the agencies believe will work that counts. It is what the homeless believe and want.
Obviously the project is off to an auspicious start. This type of publication does not exploit the homeless. There are people all over this country who have left the streets because of such an opportunity. The chance to be a vendor builds confidence and self-esteem. Panhandling does not. That is the difference on that account.
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I think that people who object to such sales fear the homeless will have too much voice. Where does all the money go that is raised by this partnership -- to the people or to the administration of the partnership?
There needs to be a realization among service providers that the homeless are the ones who know what they need to get off the streets. The service providers don't know that.
In time StreetSmarts will prove its worth over and over again. And yes, I have read it.
Virginia Sellner, executive director, Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless