Owing to an editing error in "Dumb and Dumber Luck" (February 4), about lottery winner Bernardo Paz, attorney George Garcia's plea to charges of aggravated assault and witness tampering was stated incorrectly. Garcia pleaded no contest. New Times regrets the error.

What a Relief: Only Two Errors!
Thanks for Kirk Nielsen's great article on the preservation battle over Ransom Everglades School's Band Cottage ("Cottage Beaten, Held for Ransom," January 28). In my reading, I spotted only two errors: 1) In 1994 the school's master plan did not call for moving and repairing the cottage. The widely held assumption was that it would be demolished. This is what spurred our alumni group to action. 2) I believe my comment about the "fucking roof" being removed was made off the record. I would not want to leave the school's students with the impression that I use such language so candidly.

David Villano
Coconut Grove

Kirk Nielsen replies: I never mentioned a 1994 master plan. In that year, however, the school's trustees created a "wish list" that included moving the cottage and repairing it.

I regret any misunderstanding about what was on or off the record.

Pirate Radio: Our Last Best Hope
I am writing regarding Kirk Nielsen's "A Pirate's Mutiny" (January 28). My favorite pirate station, at 91.7 FM, has been off the air (as far as I know) for the past year. It broadcast pop and folk music without interruption, and was the only station I've heard that played Dylan's original "Desolation Row" -- all eleven minutes of it.

Hey, pirates! How 'bout a 24/7 folk broadcast? God knows it'll only happen with those who care enough about the product to fund it themselves and to keep it pure. Even public radio is big business now, and as such has lost touch. If only government-sanctioned radio and TV stations could have the purity, freedom, and enthusiasm of the pirates.

I'm pleased that some people are beginning to understand that the airwaves don't really belong to the people; they belong to the government and those who do business with it, not to you and me. They most certainly do not belong to anyone offering a free alternative, no matter how unobtrusive his broadcast signal may be.

It seems there isn't much difference in control tactics between capitalists and socialists when it comes to policing the airwaves. When they feel threatened, the powerful lash out; and unregulated, noncommercial radio is a definite threat to our current fiscal and political arrangement. Let's face it, who would choose to suffer through commercials, pledge drives, and obnoxious disc jockeys if he or she could get the same (or better) programming without interruptions? As always, the status quo could use some competition.

I guess the future lies in radio on the Internet. But how many people can afford computers? Maybe Internet signals could be downloaded to regional pirates and therefore reach a wider audience.

Perhaps there could be underground funding for the promotion of clandestine broadcasts. Or would that doom the whole thing? On second thought, the pirates seem to make it on their own just fine.

Pirate radio may be our last hope for cultural independence.
David Melvin Thornburgh
Miami Beach

Pirate Radio: Get Thee to the Internet
Pirate radio stations have been on the air in Miami since the days of Luther Campbell and the ghetto-style DJs in the Eighties. Maybe the pirates should consider the Internet, which is unregulated. They could include video along with their music.

If anyone is interested, I can be e-mailed at webmaster@MIAMICHOCOLATECITY.COM.


Allison on Nina on Amy



A Reader with Way Too Much Time on Her Hands
I think Ted B. Kissell's article on Marilyn Manson ("Marilyn Manson: The Early Years," January 21) was the best I have ever read, and I have read a lot of them. I think Ted did a very good job, and seemed to really know what he was talking about, unlike the authors of other articles I have read. That's all I wanted to say.  

Laurel Ramage
Woodbridge, Ontario

Another Reader with Not Enough to Do
I'm a huge fan of Marilyn Manson but I still have to say Ted B. Kissell's article was very good. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Josh Stewart
San Francisco, CA

Impaled Reader Dupe but Happy
Just for the record, we Marilyn Manson fans know we're being duped. The guy's work is metaphorical and therefore is lost on a lot of granola and trail-mix roots-rocker hacks.

We realize we're participating in the illusion and we like it because it makes a point we all get to stand behind. Manson provided something that was missing in the early Nineties: identity. While the nation was putting on its more-sincere-than-thou hat, the rest of us were wondering where we'd find the next lie upon which we could impale our desire to have entertainment that was actually entertaining.

Sorry, but recalling a guy's embarrassing prior-to moments doesn't defeat the excitement of the in-the-now fun. But thanks to Mr. Kissell for postscripting his story with the I'm-just-actually-a-jealous-dust-eater confession. It saved him from the same pompous image other writers seem to exude.

Michael Bird
Spokane, WA

In Search of Liberty for Miss Liberty
Reading Jacob Bernstein's article about 95-year-old Eunice Liberty being forcibly removed from her home and taken to a nursing home ("An Age-Old Dispute," January 21) broke my heart because I witnessed her struggle and watched her civil rights being taken away.

Before his death last September, my husband Jim and I fought in court to get Miss Liberty's money back. Judge Arthur Rothenberg, we believe, legally committed nothing less than grand theft by seizing her bank account (savings from her years of hard work) and her property (two homes), then turning her over to Comprehensive Personal Care Services, a private company. The judge deemed her incompetent even though a court-appointed psychologist, Leonard Haber, subsequently stated that she was fully competent and only needed assistance in her home. But the judge still wouldn't release her assets or property.

This type of thing goes on across the country daily. Watch out if you grow old without a family to protect you. Someone like Judge Rothenberg can just step in and take what you've worked all your life for, leaving you abandoned in a nursing home.

Jim and I almost got most of Miss Liberty's money back, but she's a stubborn lady and insisted on all of it. She had funny ideas about fairness and justice. The black community should be deeply ashamed for abandoning her. Judge Rothenberg should be forced to release her assets and abide by the law that deemed her mentally competent. Comprehensive Personal Care Services should take their talons off her money. And Miss Liberty should be allowed to return home. She often said she was fighting for every older person who was alone. All of us should fight with her.

Phylis Collier

Playwright to Critic: Bravo
Robin Dougherty's review of my play Tallulah ("The Age of Tallulah," January 21), was thoughtful and perceptive. She is absolutely right: The play is really about the trauma of hitting the road on the other side of 40, all wrapped up in the package of Tallulah.

I was particularly pleased with Ms. Dougherty's review because I know New Times has a young audience, and they, of course, are the ones theater wants and needs in order to thrive.

Sandra Ryan Heyward
Malibu, CA

Lawrence: Light on His Feet
I almost replied to Jim Mullin's article about Dave Lawrence, "Nice Guy, Wrong Job," when the story was first published (January 21), but after seeing the letters from some detractors, I feel the need to say, "Right on, Jim!"

I communicated by mail with Mr. Lawrence a couple of times when it seemed the Miami Herald was becoming Cubanized (rather than bringing Cubans into the American melting pot). His replies were always from the Milquetoast Book of Evasive Answers and Noncommittal Rejoinders. This man could say less in a paragraph than anyone I ever wrote to, and do it so sweetly you couldn't even get mad at him. He is a true political tap dancer!

I know Mr. Mullin is a busy guy, but I for one would like to see more of his perceptions in print. This town is full of fodder.

John E. Brown

Lawrence: Forever Unknown
I thought "Nice Guy, Wrong Job" was accurate as well as considerate of Dave Lawrence and his job as publisher of the Miami Herald.

I say "considerate" because we will never know how many investigative stories that should have been diligently pursued by the most influential daily newspaper in South Florida were ignored or buried because they might have opened up nasty and unpleasant cans of worms about influential, powerful, and politically connected individuals.  

Benjamin G. Rae, III, in his letter "Lawrence: Not Such a Nice Guy After All," stated it plainly: "Serious journalism needs stewards who are not afraid to print ugly stories about business or political titans who may be just as corrupt as the lowly scam artist who lacks the financial resources to hire fancy attorneys and cannot pick up the phone and call the powerful."

On the other hand, Manny Losada's tirade of a letter, "Lawrence: A New Times Embarrassment," cannot hide his bias or his let-me-stick-my-head-in-the-sand attitude of the reality around him.

Ricardo Ferreira

Privatize the Marinas? No Way!
Regarding John Lantigua's article "Port Whine" (January 14), I was the dock master at the county's Matheson Hammock Marina for more then ten years prior to Hurricane Andrew. The profits that marina made annually were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars simply because it was in a prime location both by land and sea. Most boat owners who lived in Coral Gables, South Miami, or the Kendall area utilized it. Access to the ocean was due east across Biscayne Bay to Biscayne Channel. Matheson's channels were five feet deep or better. Its surroundings were, to say the least, pleasant. If you compare Matheson Hammock Marina to the county-operated Pelican Harbor, which is far from the ocean and has a no-wake zone that runs for several miles, you can see why Pelican has very little attraction. The county spent a lot of money building a picnic area on the island adjacent to the marina, and even provides water-taxi service in an effort to attract more patrons.

Following the storm, I was transferred to Black Point Marina for several years as Matheson was to be closed for reconstruction. It took a couple of years more for Black Point to become fully operational. It's still not 100 percent full. Neither is Matheson.

Another important point is that a lot of small boat companies went under following the storm: Johnson and Kirby in South Miami for one.

Privatization of the marinas? Ask the former dock master at Black Point about Marine Management, Inc., and how that company cheated the county out of thousands of dollars.

I would strongly question any privatization of any county operation. The county should maintain its own operations and programs. Just look at how the county subcontracted the maintenance of roadways and how the low bidders worked for a while and then had to be replaced, over and over again. Meanwhile county employees were being laid off, or positions where deleted when an employee retired.

Thank you for allowing me to speak up as a taxpayer and a retired county employee of 25 years.

Ralph W. Dodge

Privatize the Marinas? Yes Way!
Did I miss something in my political science 101 class? Does government now exist to provide subsidies for rich, boat-owning fat cats? Miami-Dade County owns 1311 berths for boat owners, which are rented out at rates substantially lower than those found at private marinas. Why is the county providing what is essentially a tax-subsidy for those well-enough off to own boats? Why, for that matter does the county even own marinas?

Government exists to provide services that benefit at least a significant part of the community, and to protect the rights of those who cannot protect themselves (to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, et cetera). Providing a park clearly benefits the community as a whole, as that park is open to the community as a whole. A marina, though, benefits exactly 1311 members of our community.

The fat cats may whine that other government programs only benefit a small portion of the community -- just look at those damn welfare mothers. Programs to aid the poor, however, are at least trying to help our community as a whole.

Next we can expect the boat owners, scared of paying another c-note each month to house their vessels, to argue that the marinas are making money for the county. A lot of businesses make money, but that doesn't mean the county should be running those businesses. Should there be a county-owned Burger King with discounted Whoppers? A county strip club with half-price table dances (but who could say no to a five-dollar lap dance from Natacha Millan)? A county crack house with free ho's for the first 100 customers?

The bottom line is that the county could sell off, not just lease, these marinas to private companies and use those proceeds to do something to truly help the community: build more homeless shelters, improve our roads, hire more cops. Hey, the county would probably have enough to pay for the Pop Warner football teams to go to the state finals! And how would that benefit the community? A kid playing football is a kid who isn't smoking crack and jacking cars, and is a kid less likely to do so in the future.  

Errol Portman
Coral Gables

Muggers, Fuggers, and Thieves Are People Too
John Hood's "My Life in Jail" (December 31) made me want to pick up Alexis de Tocqueville again. Hood's writing, when read in the light of de Tocqueville, reveals both the political reality and the pitfalls of living in a democracy.

In his classic Democracy in America, de Tocqueville wrote, "When the central government, which represents [the] majority, has issued a decree, it must entrust the execution of its will to agents, over whom it frequently has no control, and whom it cannot perpetually direct." De Tocqueville, like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, saw this as a positive thing. This minimalist or preventative view of government guaranteed the majority, or the "agents," protection against future tyrants, but it also made the execution of good laws (such as the Bill of Rights) subject to the same sway by the majority.

The political reality is that if the majority chooses not to faithfully execute certain rights guaranteed to even the least of its citizens (prison inmates, for example), it may do so without any serious repercussions. Yes, we live in a democratic society, but not when it comes to the rights of prisoners. Sure, the latest conservative craze -- one-strike-you're-out system -- makes the politicians look good, but things are not going to get any better for any of us unless we begin to give our inmate population something to hope for, no matter how horrendous the crime.

John Hood clearly shows that inmates are people too, no different from the rest of us. Yet how many of us, if forced to live under the same cannibalistic conditions, would act in a manner consistent with the best interests of society? This, according to de Tocqueville's definition, is undemocratic. Repeat offenders are one of the prices we pay for living in a democracy.

Democracy works because we don't expect it to be perfect. Yet a person makes one mistake and we keep him or her locked away for life. While our other beloved institution, the church (in particular the evangelical church, that self-proclaimed voice of God) rants and raves about sin, it hardly ever acts on Jesus's words: "I have come to set the prisoner free."

According to de Tocqueville, a democratic society's caste system comes disguised as lawyers and judges acting in accordance with the best interests of society. The real horror, to use Conrad's terminology, will be to one day wake up to the realization that our criminal justice system was nothing more than a way to justify differences among the classes, just because there was no other way to legitimize an aristocracy.

Manny Losada

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