Ollie's Nifty Fix-it Formula
I read Kirk Nielsen's article "Wheels of Fortune" (July 2) with dismay.
If even a portion of what was reported about the Miami-Dade Transit Agency is accurate, this is a bad situation that needs to be fixed.

Overtime pay may be a fact of life for public transit operators, but there are budgetary realities to consider. We simply cannot afford to pay for an extended period of time the level of compensation noted in the article. If those bus drivers earning $70,000 to $90,000 are under binding financial obligations, their salaries should be maintained, but no more salaries in this range should be added.

The system can and would carry more passengers if emphasis were placed on frequent pickups, reliable service, and rider amenities. This is particularly true in high-growth areas such as west Dade. There is also a need for better coordination of schedules to eliminate long waits when transferring. In addition, facilities such as child care need to be included at transportation hubs such as Dadeland South, Martin Luther King, and Cutler Ridge. This will ensure that public transit is a reasonable option for those who currently find it problematic.

With many former welfare recipients about to enter the work force, there will be plenty of potential new riders at all hours of the day. USA Today reported that welfare caseloads dropped the most in counties with public transport. The New York Times noted that an increase in public-transit use in New York has been fueled by immigrant patronage. Good transit service -- safe, comfortable, reliable, and easy to use -- will attract and hold riders. This must be done at a price that people can realistically afford to pay.

Ollie Lee Taylor

Harvey Returns, Bile Intact
No wonder Miami High School principal Victor Lopez made so many stupid comments in Robert Andrew Powell's article "Double Dribbling" (July 2). Just look at the photograph of him. He really is Mr. Potato Head!

More than ten years ago a Miami Herald reporter told me in a phone conversation that every starting player of the state championship Miami High basketball team lived outside the school's attendance boundaries, but he didn't want to go public with the story. Why, I'm not sure. (I swear this is true and will take a lie detector test to prove it!)

I strongly suggest that New Times and the Florida High School Activities Association investigate those old Miami High state championship basketball teams.

Harvey Slavin

Todd! Todd! Come Back, Todd!
Thank you for running Michael Sragow's review of Hurricane Streets ("Blow Hard," June 18). I can't remember the last time that a film screened at the Alliance Cinema made it into a newspaper. Although strangers ask me on a daily basis what will happen to the Alliance when the multiplex opens nearby on Lincoln Road, no one asks about our real concern: the loss of a local film critic at New Times.

A year and a half ago New Times let go of Todd Anthony, a superior film critic who could write, not just criticize. He also had his ear to the ground concerning issues of film and filmmaking in Miami. This topic is of extreme importance to this town, but apparently not to New Times. Instead the paper now publishes the vitriolic writings of West Coast critics, mostly about films produced in Los Angeles, none of which are worthy of reading by any Miamian interested in movies.

Hurricane Streets probably got reviewed only because Mr. Sragow felt obligated to watch a film that won three awards at the Sundance festival. Mr. Sragow's so-called review taught us two things: He hated the movie, and his writing about the plot is at a third-grade level. Not one word addressed cinematic issues such as direction, acting, photography, or editing.

Nor did Mr. Sragow ask why it took the Alliance Cinema a year of struggle to be able to show the film. Or why the Alliance would be screening a movie from MGM, a Hollywood giant that doesn't usually return phone calls from art houses. Or why the director was flying to Miami for the screening. Or how Jamin O'Brien came to be assistant director on his first feature. Or why the Alliance co-produced a locally made feature with Mr. O'Brien, a movie that was launched to the public at the opening of Hurricane Streets.

Of course Mr. Sragow didn't ask these questions. He doesn't live here. New Times purports to be a local paper, but in reality it is a large corporation based in Phoenix, and its movie reviews run throughout the country. If New Times wants to call itself a local paper, it should stop including a film section. We miss you, Todd.

Joanne Butcher-Zbornik, executive director
Alliance for Media Arts
Miami Beach

Crime Stopper Tip #1: Throw Away the Key
I am amazed by the letter written by Marshall Washington in response to Tristram Korten's article "Taking Subway for a Ride" (June 11). As an ex-con, I am appalled by the ignorance of both Mr. Washington and the general public when they say let's not hire ex-cons, and God forbid they serve us food in a public place. What is the alternative? Should we not hire them and force them to commit more crimes in order to survive?

I was convicted (at age twenty) of growing marijuana and received a five-year sentence. My question is this: When does my sentence end? Should I be convicted again by people like Mr. Washington? I do not deny my guilt, but today I am a very productive member of society. I have since obtained my bachelor's degree and am working at a full-time job.

Is it Mr. Washington's opinion that someone like me should still be confined to prison? That is absurd. When an individual is trying to integrate into society, hold a job, and not commit crimes of whatever nature, shouldn't we allow that person the opportunity?

Mr. Washington wrote, "I don't need to worry about what crime a Subway manager has committed in the past." Exactly! If the people are doing what they are supposed to be doing and not doing anything wrong, why worry? [Subway sandwich shop owner] Hara Frankel should be proud of herself for hiring ex-cons. I personally thank her.

David Keil

From Time's Up to Stickup
I have a question for Marshall Washington: What do you think happens when ex-cons cannot find employment after serving their time? They rob people, burglarize homes, sell drugs. I applaud employers like Hara Frankel who are willing to give people another chance to lead productive lives.

Lili Chambers
South Miami

Crazy for Crime-Free Fast Food
Is Hara Frankel crazy? Why does she hire criminals? I am now afraid to go to her Subway stores. Are the rest of her employees criminals? I can't believe that the Subway corporation supports this type of activity. I don't want my children eating in a place run by these types of people.

Juan Romero

Radio Marti Under Investigation -- Again
Regarding Kathy Glasgow's article about Radio Marti ("Radio Free Miami," June 4): As acting chairman of the President's Advisory Board for Cuba Broadcasting (PAB), I would like to clarify statements relating to investigations of Radio Marti. The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of State investigated allegations of personnel irregularities, editorial policy violations, and undue influence by Jorge Mas Canosa -- the late chairman of the PAB -- and other board members. The inspector general's final report exonerated Radio Marti and the board of all allegations. (Radio Marti was also exonerated of all the prior 27 allegations.)

In light of the numerous complaints since Mr. Herminio San Roman's arrival as director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, another investigation has been opened by the inspector general for the Department of State.

Christopher D. Coursen, acting chairman
President's Advisory Board for Cuba Broad-casting


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