Quit Pickin' on My Friend Fraind
The recent article by Paula Park smearing [school district deputy superintendent] Henry Fraind was anything but amusing ("Not Just Another Pretty Bureaucrat," January 29). I suggest that Ms. Park or anyone else writing about alternative education (a.k.a. "distance learning") might want to educate themselves first about a rather complex field. It is important to distinguish between the hundreds of legitimate schools throughout the world that grant "external degrees" and the "diploma mills" that prey on gullible students. This information is not obscure -- it's out there in books, on the Web, et cetera. Distance learning = no attendance. Get it?

I suggest that Ms. Park also do her homework about accreditation. In the United States, accreditation is voluntary. Degrees granted by legally operating schools, whether accredited or nonaccredited, are equally valid under the law. It is up to the student to determine whether a nonaccredited degree will suffice for his or her needs. Many corporate employers and government bodies accept such credentials -- they even subsidize tuition. In my opinion, it is better for a school to declare up-front that it is not accredited by a recognized agency than it is to claim accreditation from a phony agency, as many do. Pacific Western University is a pioneer in alternative education, with many satisfied students.

After a previous article in which Superintendent Roger Cuevas's degree from the University of Northern Colorado was incorrectly characterized as bogus, New Times should be more careful. In my view, Dr. Fraind is owed an apology.

David P. Burkart

Editor's note: Paula Park's previous article, "How to Succeed in Education Without Really Studying" (September 25, 1997), did not characterize Superintendent Cuevas's degree as "bogus." The University of Northern Colorado's degree programs offered through its Center for Special and Advanced Programs were, however, described by Harvard educator Stephen K. Bailey as "the used-car lots of higher education."

Building a Better Profile
While working in Savannah, Georgia, with my Florida International University students, I read Paula Park's profile of me ("The Quintana Plan," January 22). What can I say! It was beautifully written and clearly communicated the passion and constant searching that have always motivated me. Her work has deeply moved me. There are, though, three basic points that require clarification to put them in their historical context.

First, I was not appointed by Fulgencio Batista to my job as director of the master plans of Varadero and the City of Trinidad de Cuba. That appointment was made by architect Nicolas Arroyo, acting as president of the Junta de Planificacion de Cuba, with the approval of all its directors.

Second, the architectural firm Moenck & Quintana was not commissioned to design the National Bank of Cuba project during President Batista's government; the firm of Perez Benitoa was commissioned.

Third, after President Batista's downfall in 1959, Moenck & Quintana was selected to design a new project for the bank, based on a different program structured by the bank's new president, Dr. Felipe Pazos. I personally worked on that project as partner in charge of design until I left the country in 1960. My surreal and fortunately short relationship with Ernesto "Che" Guevara, posing as the bank's president, occurred later, after Dr. Pazos had resigned that position.

Nicolas Quintana

Building a Better Architect
Thank you for "The Quintana Plan." Mr. Quintana is indeed a treasure of architectural experience. The City of Miami Beach is fortunate that he has offered himself for service on our Design Review Board. I hope my colleagues will join me in enthusiastically appointing him to the board so we may put his expertise to good use in the service of our community.

Commissioner David Dermer
Miami Beach

Clueless Is the Hunter
While passing through Miami, I read Sean Rowe's article "Hungry Is the Hunter" (January 22) and I felt compelled to write. I am a physician, not a hunter or a yuppie environmentalist or an ecologist. From this neutral position I can see objectively and must mention that the article was incomplete and that these hunters are at best disturbing and at worst frightening in their viewpoint of those whose opinions they don't understand.

Like the long path of abuse that finally leads to symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke, the Everglades is at the end of a long history of abuse and neglect that involved robbed water, polluted water, and a continuing human population explosion. How can anyone expect the days of the Indians to compare to this? Heart disease and the state of the Everglades are similar in the sense that chest pain, like the core of Mr. Rowe's article, presents itself as a symptom after many years of abuse and neglect that could go unnoticed. It must be viewed in the context of passing time, not as a snapshot.  

If this is where we are now, where will the Everglades be in 50 years? The picture is dismal. I side with the yuppie environmentalists.

Peter J. Walton, M.D.
Clearwater Beach

Sean Hits the Bull's-eye
Sean Rowe's "Hungry Is the Hunter" rates as one of your very best stories.
Tom Rich

Metrozoo: Charge Nothing and They Will Come
I read with interest Ted B. Kissell's story about Metrozoo's financial cat fight ("It's a Jungle in Here!" January 22). Here's a solution: Shut down the zoo and forget about it.

Want to know the real reason for poor attendance? Nobody but the very well-off can afford it. I haven't been to a zoo in years because I don't get to St. Louis that often. In fact, the last time was 1991, and just as in my childhood, the zoo was still free to the public.

Maybe someone here should go there and see how they manage to have a beautiful, world-class zoo and still not charge the public for it. (The Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Miami Art Museum might tag along to check out all the free museums in St. Louis.)

I know there's an anti-socialist sentiment in Miami, but must everything have a price on it? As a poor inner-city kid who grew up in St. Louis, my most memorable and educational moments were the family picnics in Forest Park and a day at the zoo with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Such an outing here would cost about a hundred bucks, an extravagance not available to most inner-city families.

So maybe we should assess the worth of the zoo to the people of Miami-Dade County. It's much more efficient to watch the Discovery Channel or the Learning Channel and save your money -- for a summer vacation to St. Louis or Chicago to see some really good zoos and museums.

Rob Boyte
Miami Beach

Get Your Big Mouth Out of Our Uteruses
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's "Roe v. Wade v. Suarez" (January 22): When are people going to realize that the decision to have an abortion is not a public one? Abortion is a personal decision made by only one person, the pregnant woman. Public officials, especially those whose mental capabilities are being questioned, have no right to force their opinion on someone trying to make the decision to have an abortion.

No one can say that abortion is right or wrong. The situation of the pregnancy has to be examined by the mother-to-be. Only she can make the choice and only she can decide whether her choice is right or wrong.

There are many valid arguments on both sides of this issue, but those arguments would be voiced only by those who have had to face and make the decision. Not by a man, not by a government, and definitely not by Mayor -- excuse me -- Probationary Mayor Suarez.

Melissa Sindle
North Miami

Speaking of Bigmouths...
It's assholes like Robert Andrew Powell who are always condemning life. Declaring "Sanctity of Human Life Day" is the first thing the mayor has done correctly, and we have a smart-ass reporter being Walter Cronkite with the commentary. Maybe he should have been an abortion. Ever seen pictures of one, asshole? No, I didn't think so!

Most people take more care of their fucking pets than society thinks about God's gift to the human race. But Powell doesn't have any kids and is surely gay to boot! Stick to reporting the fucking news about the mayor and don't stick your asinine views in the story!

Orlando James

Hey Al, Have We Got a Politician for You! Last Name Is Gersten
I have been watching with interest your stories about your new mayor. I think the man should be removed from office on the grounds of gross incompetence or lack of any cognitive processes. I have never seen a person get into so much political trouble over his abuse of his office and by opening his mouth before engaging his brain. (He does have one, doesn't he?)

How this man persuaded people to vote for him is beyond me. If he tried to do here in Australia what he's doing over there, he would be removed from office and probably sent to the local hospital for an assessment. I am sorry to say it, but I think this mayor of yours is totally out of his depth, like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

I hope your city quickly finds someone to settle down the mayoral office and get on with running your city.  

Al Mills
Perth, Australia

Insightful? Sensitive? Evenhanded? Sure You're Talking About New Times?
I'm sending you a note to let you know that your recent news and feature articles on the African-American community have been outstanding, simply terrific. While I was especially moved by Robert Andrew Powell's feature and follow-up article on Pop Warner football ("Coming of Age on the 50-Yard Line," November 27 and December 11), I have found all of your recent stories involving African-American issues to be insightful, sensitive, and evenhanded.

Please keep up the good work and remember that your readership really cares about these communities.

A.J. Johnson

When There Was a Town in Overtown
As a kid growing up in the Overtown area at the end of the police careers described by Jacob Bernstein in his article "Black in Blue" (November 13), I found these men to be an asset to my old neighborhood. (I observed many of their activities from across the street and I think they were usually fair.) I do wonder, though, how they would fare in today's Overtown.

One of the most important parts of the article was that the value of these officers' was based on the fact that Overtown was once a neighborhood of flavor, of families, of doctors and lawyers. Today the police do not live in the neighborhood. Today just a very few of the old-timers reside there, along with a lot of people who know nothing of the police officers in Mr. Bernstein's story.

Larry Houston

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