Lawless Miami: Way Too Much Fun!
There once was a time when, on election day, all saloons and taverns were closed until the polls were closed. Seems some citizens were known to sell their vote for a drink. And they weren't Cubans!
In addition, lots of deceased voters managed to get their absentee ballots into the box on time, despite their obvious handicap. This has been a recorded phenomenon all over our nation. Some dead folks just like to do their civic duty, that's all. So now comes Rosa Townsend with more news about vote fraud and the disappearance of political operative Ray Molina ("Ray Molina Is Alive and Well!" July 23).
Just another amusing reminder that some Cuban-American voters may sometimes overdo it a touch. After all, how many voting-age adults can we have living in a two-bedroom, one-bath dwelling, no matter how friendly they might be? Now that is getting inventive.
Problem is, Cubans didn't originate this sort of crime. Folks have voted where they didn't live (and didn't pay taxes where they did live) long before the first Cuban landed here.
As reported some time ago in the Miami Herald, at what was to be a debate between Joe Carollo and Xavier Suarez at a power lunch, a political hack took Carollo to task for being a traitor to all Cuban Americans for allowing Cesar Odio to take a fall for his part in a rather involved bribery scheme. You'd think the real crime wasn't what he did but getting caught.
Meanwhile other Cuban Americans, including Humberto Hernandez, are waving the Cuban flag and playing the discrimination card. What we're hearing is that if there weren't Cubans doing it, fraud and bribery really wouldn't be crimes.
Professor Dario Moreno seems like a real sabio kind of guy. His 60 Minutes observation that Miami has become almost the definition of a Third World banana republic sure got more players on the field.
Funniest thing of all, just to lend living proof to his point, our state Rep. Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat rose to the bait like a mullet to a bread ball and threatened Florida International University president Mitch Madique with funding problems if he didn't rein in his guy Moreno.
After the Spanish American League Against Discrimination (S.A.L.A.D.) jumps Moreno, who is Cuban American, for bringing shame upon his own, Rodriguez-Chomat, right in front of God and everybody, lets his alligator mouth overload his hummingbird butt, much to the delight of all us spectators and to the chagrin of S.A.L.A.D.
And now we've got Ray Molina somewhere in Panama, and Sen. Al Gutman under indictment, and Humbertico in the Crossbar Hotel.
Ain't this fun?
Mr. Senator, You'd Better Check with DeFede First
Congratulations to Jim DeFede for his outstanding exposes of State Sen. Daryl Jones (July 16, June 25, March 19, and February 26). His articles undoubtedly contributed to the U.S. Senate's rejection of Jones's nomination by President Clinton to be the new Secretary of the Air Force.
Jones would have ruined what is left of the morale in the air force. His rejection is a wonderful message to the Clinton administration to start nominating quality people and not problem children like Daryl Jones.
Sum of a Ditch
This letter is in response to Jacob Bernstein's article "Life's a Ditch" (July 16). People in that part of the eastern Everglades known as the 81/2 Square Mile Area are sick and tired of the way our tax money is mismanaged by Miami-Dade County officials. The quoted price for the job of filling in the ditches that make up our drainage system was $69,000. This seemed a bit steep to me, so I priced the job myself.
The ditches are three and a half feet wide and were filled with about three feet of dirt. Before the work was halted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a total of 3578 feet of ditch had been filled -- about half of what was originally contracted.
The math: 3578 feet x 3.5 feet wide x 3 feet deep = 1391.44 cubic yards, or 1878.44 tons of fill.
Clean lime-rock fill sells for two to three dollars per ton at the closest rock pits.
The math: 1878.44 tons of fill x $3 = $5635.32.
There was a small bulldozer on-site for five days. A bulldozer and driver cost $360 per day.
The math: 5 days x $360 = $1800.
Trucking the fill to the site is $50 per load, and there were 92 dump-truck loads.
The math: 92 loads x $50 = $4600.
Cost of fill $5635.32 + cost of equipment $1800 + cost of trucking $4600 = total cost of completed work (50 percent of entire job) $12,035.32.
H&R Paving, the company with whom the county contracted for the work, has tried to pass off demolition debris as clean fill, at taxpayers' expense. (The material they dumped would have cost them $56 per ton to dispose of at a landfill.) It was full of construction rubble, PVC pipe, old carpeting, and other miscellaneous debris. H&R Paving is now hauling off the dirt -- and leaving garbage along our roadsides. I wonder if they're selling it as clean fill to some other unsuspecting victim.
The fact that the county was going to pay H&R Paving $69,000 for what was at best a $24,000 job makes one wonder where all our tax money really goes. It sure isn't going to public works out here.
There are 43,000 acres of land in private hands in the eastern Everglades. County taxes amount to $30 per acre per year for vacant land, which comes to $1.29 million dollars annually. The homes in the 81/2 Square Mile Area contribute another $1.13 million per year in taxes. That comes to more than two million dollars per year. And for that we get nothing but dirty fill in return.
This Swamp Is My Swamp
I read Jacob Bernstein's article with interest because residents of the now infamous 81/2 Square Mile Area have been whining for years about flood protection. If Mr. Bernstein had taken a look at the long, sordid history of this area, he would have found that many homes and other structures were built there without county permits.
He should take a drive out there some weekend (SW 136th Street west of Krome Avenue is nice this time of year) and he'd find a quagmire of illegal activities. Picnic shelters, which are being rented to large parties on private property, complete with the illegal sale of food and alcoholic beverages, are commonplace. In fact, if you want to see the Third World, why bother visiting Cuba? You can see it right there in the 81/2 Square Mile Area.
As far as taxpayers forking over money to pay for flood protection for the folks out there, I can only quote an old adage: "If you bought a swamp, then you must have wanted a swamp."
Owing to a reporting error in Kirk Nielsen's article "Ebony and Larceny" (July 16), the number of concert grand pianos manufactured annually by Steinway & Sons was misstated. The firm produces 120 each year.
In Tristram Korten's article about Miami Police Chief Donald Warshaw ("The Don," June 25), a reporting error led to an incorrect date appearing in the chronology of Operation Greenpalm, the federal government's corruption probe. Warshaw accompanied former Miami City Manager Cesar Odio to New York City to meet with bond raters in the summer of 1996.
New Times regrets the errors.
Regarding Kenny Trout's letter last week in response to the article on Ed's Guitars ("A Real Fender Bender," July 9), I know Ed Oleck to be a fair, honest, and knowledgeable guitar dealer. As Alan Diaz noted in his article, Ed does indeed have many quality brand-name instruments in his store -- not "cheap, garage-sale type guitars" as Mr. Trout says.
Also the idea that Ed Oleck or anyone else could buy something for $100 and sell it for $1000 may sound great, but it's probably not realistic -- at Ed's or anywhere else. Mr. Trout's letter sounds a little fishy to me.
It's All Spaghetti to Him
Regarding Steve Capellini's restaurant review of Spiga ("Family Planning," July 9), pappardelle pasta is not tube-shape! It is a ribbon pasta, much wider than fettucine.
Driving a Bus Is Like Going to War
Regarding Kirk Nielsen's article "Wheels of Fortune" (July 2), gimme a break! Golly geez, he must not know how hard we work to get those finer things in life we'd like to have. New house, paid by the hour. New car, paid by the hour.
But it only takes a minute to see that Nielsen is dumping shit in our boots. Did he know we get shot at, spit at, cursed at, egged, flipped off, and have rocks and bottles thrown at us? And don't forget about the winos, the homeless in the wintertime, the "Hey, brother, can I get a free ride," the wild crew coming from the theaters, the two lost tourists who get on and could you please help us?
Was Nielsen out there shuttling people after Hurricane Andrew hit?
I know he wasn't out there in Liberty City in 1980.
And how about that same time when Mariel came into the picture. Did he drive a bus all the way to the Palm Beach County National Guard armory to pick up refugees with a state trooper escort and go back to the FIU south campus, just one person driving and 40 sweating and coughing people from all walks of life in Cuba onboard?
Oh, let me not forget: The Haitians came that year, too.
After nineteen and a half years of driving buses in Miami-Dade County, I can only guess that Nielsen just pushed the wrong buttons on his keyboard. And now he's pissed off my fellow workers. I sure hope his car doesn't break down.
I've been bumping curbs since 1979 but still get paid by the f@#*ING HOUR.
Gangsters, Gangstas, What's the Dif?
I READ WITH AMUSEMENT JESSE BANUCHI'S RESPONSE ("LETTERS," JULY 2) TO PETER RAINER'S REVIEW OF BULWORTH. BANUCHI CONTENDS THE MOVIE'S TOTAL "MESSAGE" IS THAT BULWORTH'S ERRATIC BEHAVIOR IS DUE TO HIS BEING POSSESSED BY A DEAD BLACK MALE RAPPER.
IT'S FUNNY HOW PEOPLE CAN INTERPRET THE SAME MOVIE COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY. I THOUGHT IT OBVIOUS THAT BULWORTH'S UNDERLYING MESSAGE WAS THAT THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY WAS THE MAFIA.
ALBERT D. VIENER
Coming Soon: A Brilliantly Written, Hard-Hitting Column by the Publisher
Week by week News Times reads and looks more and more like the Miami Herald. That is not meant as a compliment.
I still have not been able to figure out what Tristram Korten's article about Donald Warshaw ("The Don," June 25) is, was, or meant to be. Was it a vote of confidence? Was it a resume? Was it a biography? I do not know. Ninety percent of the story was devoted to either criticizing or trashing Xavier Suarez, who has not been around for almost four months. Five percent was family anecdotes, and the other five percent old news.
Only one line had any significance: "Carollo says it's a strong possibility he'll appoint Warshaw permanent city manager." Let us review Mr. Warshaw's resume: high school diploma, humdrum office jobs, failed business venture, and police officer. It is obvious Mr. Warshaw is lacking in the qualifications for city manager, especially good judgment.
As Jim DeFede so clearly stated regarding Warshaw's involvement in the Operation Greenpalm investigation ("Deep Inside the Scandal," November 21, 1996): "The fact that [Chief Warshaw's] conduct has become an issue of controversy is evidence enough that he should have divorced himself entirely from the proceedings. Because he did not, his actions have raised questions about the independence of both the investigation and his own department."
Mr. Warshaw's qualifications for city manager appear to be deficient in every area, but we all know that will not be the determining factor for the mayor.
My Addiction Is Mine Alone
The following is a response to a rebuttal by Karl Olsson of North Miami Beach, who wrote a letter about Paula Park's article "The Addiction Connection" (March 19). I am the "Michelle" featured in Ms. Park's story about methadone clinics.
Mr. Olsson made it seem as though I trashed Dr. Roberto Ruiz, his good name, his good deeds, and his Comprehensive Psychiatric Centers methadone clinics. Never! Mr. Olsson went as far as to suggest that I blame Dr. Ruiz for my addiction, which outraged my sensibilities.
What this man wrote was wrong. I was never "paid to misrepresent the entire methadone maintenance program," nor would I ever do such a thing. And he is wrong to say "she didn't come forward of her own volition." I did come forward of my own volition when I saw Ms. Park trying to get patients' cooperation in discussing addiction, how it begins, how it feels to withdraw, et cetera.
I was cooperative in that I answered only what she asked me, and truthfully. Also, at no time whatsoever did I infer or suggest that anyone was responsible for my addiction other than myself and myself alone.
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I did not give my full name in Ms. Park's article and I will not do so here, because it is my right not to and I choose to exercise that right. But I write this in an effort to set the record straight once and for all.
Linda's Long Neck
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's article about allegedly fraudulent absentee ballots ("X Mayor," January 29), not all document examiners are able to make judgments about documents with the accuracy or confidence of Linda Hart. In fact, it is not unusual to have document examiners proclaim that they can't offer an opinion because of the possible liability that it would entail. It's called sticking your neck out, and Linda Hart seems to do that very well.