Capitalist Tool in Alternative Clothing
Has New Times become a tool of the union-busting establishment?
Kirk Nielsen's article "Wheels of Fortune" (July 2) seems to so indicate. He appears to have a problem with the fact that Miami-Dade drivers who have been on the job 30 years own nice houses and cars. Isn't that what the American dream is all about? The article was full of reportage on wages, overtime, et cetera, for union workers, but nowhere did I see any information about how managers live and how much they make.

Nielsen seems to have a problem with bus drivers working overtime. These people are out driving among what most people would agree are some of the worst drivers in the nation, if not the world. Imagine driving a bus full of chattering people, with malfunctioning air conditioning and hot blasts of air every time the door is opened, coupled with the abuse of patrons who have waited too long for a bus -- then see if you would write an article with the same anti-worker sentiment. As for the overtime issue, try doing all of the above for 40 hours and then decide whether a driver is entitled to extra pay for doing this beyond the hours of a normal work week.

I do not work as a bus driver but I use the system. I do not belong to a union, but as a worker I can certainly understand the need for them. I work in a full-time position with no benefits, no vacation, no insurance, and no sick pay. Owing to the fact that Miami has some of the worst economic conditions of any major city in the nation, I don't see this situation changing in the near future.

As New Times is the alternative newspaper for South Florida, I would hope you would spend more time reporting the real inequities in our system and do some serious reporting on the economics of the work force here.

Richard K. Claycomb
Miami Beach

Stierheim, Junkies' Savior
In response to "A Quick Fix" (July 2) by Ted B. Kissell and John Lantigua, I am amazed at the ignorance and shortsightedness of the Miami-Dade County Commission's decision to shut down the county detox unit.

More than 50 percent of the county's violent crime is committed by people under the influence of or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Even beleaguered combatants in the so-called war on drugs acknowledge that addiction treatment is more effective and less expensive than jail. Perhaps our new county manager, Merrett Stierheim, will turn the lights back on. It would be a great first step for his administration.

Ray Reilly
Miami Beach

WAMI: The Talent Is on the Street but Not on the Set
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's article on the new WAMI-TV ("Birth of a Station," June 25), I strongly disagree with his depiction of Miami's local talent pool as a bunch of rejects from The Gong Show. As a Miami casting director, I come into contact with extremely talented locals every day. National and international producers realize they can book great talent and crews in South Florida.

Station editor in chief Matti Leshem and producer Malcolm Bird are spending too much time looking in the mirror and worrying too much about registering high on the "hip" scale. Not everyone needs a daily dose of South Beach mania. There are plenty of talented actors, musicians, writers, and poets to fill Lincoln Lounge. The producers just aren't looking hard enough or in the right places.

Dolly Legge
Connelly-Legge Casting
South Miami-Dade

Break Out Diller's Piggy Bank
This new TV concept is sophomoric, silly, and beneath professional standards. To be different doesn't mean to be awful. There's a reason other stations program professional performers. Professionals with experience can handle the pauses and the bad stories and turn them into something different. The amateurish juveniles posing as talk-show hosts are so blinded by vanity they think their lame on-air antics (talking on top of each other, nervous pacing, dumb comments, slang, gang signs) are entertaining.

WAMI lacks style and excitement. The stationary cameras around the city make me feel as if I'm watching a boring surveillance tape. The sets, when there are any, are bland and forgettable.

WAMI must undergo a complete turnover to recapture my attention. If Barry Diller is worth so much money, why can't he do better than boorish local programming and reruns?

Steve Falk

Daryl Jones Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot
I am writing in response to Jim DeFede's article about Daryl Jones's nomination as Secretary of the Air Force ("Ack-Ack Over Washington," June 25). We really do expect and should ask for the "best, brightest, and the finest" to serve as air force secretary. I, as a civilian, am not ready to give an inch on the expectations we place on our military personnel. And yes, fighter pilots like Jones do rank right up there at the top of that pyramid of admiration because of their values of selflessness, integrity, and honor . The thing is, these need to be real values, not some looks-good surface goo. I have no problem with holding these pilots, and especially the man nominated to be secretary, to higher standards.

This letter started out as a simple listing of all the allegations against Jones and the problems with his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Shortly into that process, however, I was overcome with conflicting feelings of disgust and malaise. (And here I am presuming that air force records and interviews with current and retired officers are truthful. If they're not, if our air force is so rife with liars and envy-ridden fellow officers, then we're really in far worse shape than I ever imagined.) The most damning evidence against Mr. Jones is his own words. He's either very stupid or an opportunist of the worst stripe. In either case, he is certainly not a viable candidate to lead the air force.

There are some issues in life that are simple to figure out. For example, you either do or don't work for someone; you either are or aren't an active fighter pilot; you either are or aren't a consultant/lobbyist. The disparities in the stories of Mr. Jones and [Douglas James Securities owner] Craig James are so juvenile they are embarrassing. It is impossible to believe that Mr. Jones didn't know or had not negotiated his compensation package for the Miami International Airport bond work he did for Mr. James until two weeks after the bond issue was completed.

I and many other members of the community rely on editors and reporters such as Jim Mullin and Jim DeFede to provide us with the untold story, especially when it has to do with politics or political appointments. We don't have the time to do the research and conduct the interviews that get at the hidden facts. Kudos to both these professionals. Without their efforts, we would all be in the dark about the dark side of Daryl Jones.

Jeannette Drouin
Key Biscayne

If You Like Thomas Paine, You'll Love Daryl Jones
I don't believe Daryl Jones defied military authority; I think he merely improvised. Had Thomas Paine done the same, I don't think we would have frowned. When one considers the racism that has existed in this country over the years, asserting one's self-value may not just be a positive thing, it may be a matter of survival as well. Studies have shown that white America has always felt threatened by blacks who have exuded a little too much self-confidence, and by those who have been too assertive, especially those who are intelligent enough to think independently.

Why underscore Jones's shortcomings as a fighter pilot when the office he is to fill is logistical in nature? And why make a big deal about two piddly campaign contributions? Furthermore, the fact that Douglas James Securities did not list Jones as an employee seems to be an internal problem of the company.

Daryl Jones may know about rocky landings, but he also knows about the importance of flying high in the face of a world that can be, at times, racist and ridiculing. Jim DeFede needs to order a cease-fire.

Manny Losada


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