Over the Edge and Approaching Toadyism
I read with interest Jim DeFede's article "Over the Edge and Under Investigation" (October 30), and I can only shake my head in disgust at the childish antics of all parties involved. There may well be serious concerns about the background of Lynne Sachs, but the way Judge Ellen Venzer handled the situation only points to her puerile quest for influence and power. If she had really cared about the cause, quiet scrutiny of fundraising management on the part of the Immunology and Retrovirology Research Institute (IRI) was all that would have been required to serve the public trust and ensure there was no foul play.

By accusing Ms. Sachs, Judge Venzer undermined and destroyed an institution trying to do good. It was not IRI's fault that Ms. Sachs has a controversial past, but by dragging this past out in public, Judge Venzer did a disservice to the community.

The way she appeared on the scene is another example of her quest for influence; she obviously did not care about the cause, or she would have either paid to attend or offered her services to support the event. Showing up to scan the crowd smacks of toadyism and pandering to the influential figures she hoped to meet there.

If I were William Ofgant, I would have been offended by Judge Venzer's lack of attention and her obvious desire to meet anybody important. That Ms. Sachs fell under her sights was just collateral damage.

The community was dealt a double blow: the loss of a group working on a problem that affects us all, and the spectacle of people supposedly dedicated to the public trust acting like children in a schoolyard.

Alix L. Paultre

Over the Edge and Beyond the Herald
I must admit to reading a small -- very small -- article in the Miami Herald regarding the case of Lynne Sachs versus Judge Ellen Venzer, which piqued my interest. Then I read Jim DeFede's story, which was one of New Times's best articles yet. I knew when saw the headline that New Times would get to the bottom of a very gritty situation. Please keep us informed of the outcome. Great story.

James Moore

You Must Be Punished
Regarding Kathy Glasgow's article about Miami's Nuisance Abatement Board ("Go Directly to Court," October 30), I feel the city should be chastised, not made out to be a hero. It does not take "gall" to put other people's money at risk.

We in North Miami found ourselves in the same bad position owing to the Second District Court of Appeal's very poor decision. With our city attorney, we worked out a new ordinance that set up maximum monetary punishment for those we could not persuade to follow the law. I find it inconceivable that any business would want to pay $500 per day so they can continue to be a nuisance. In this way we can still get results, and punish wrongdoers and keep our city away from liability.

Of course, I personally am glad someone else will take the very large risks and try to reverse this bad decision.

James B. Tracton, chairman
Nuisance Abatement Board
North Miami

Beware the Nefarious Jack Luft
When Jack Luft and his gang of planners and development "experts" from the City of Miami decide that some area needs their help, watch out ("Parks & Profits," October 23). Years ago Luft promised people in Coconut Grove that the city would never, ever change the character of the place. The words he used then, and which he uttered like a mantra, were, "We will always maintain the ambiance of the Grove." What a crock!

Luft and his cronies at city hall were determined to make Coconut Grove productive. If that meant destroying the old ambiance, so be it. Luft and his minions wanted nonstop action: lots of traffic, crowds, and especially tax revenue. They wanted a wall of high-rises along Bayshore and 27th Avenue; shopping malls, apartment houses, and duplexes in the village center; and plenty of development in the neighborhoods. They got all of it, but it looks like they're not done yet.

The trouble is, the vast majority of people who lived in the Grove didn't want their quiet little town to be developed. But neither Luft nor the venal politicians down at city hall ever let those with opposing views get in their way. Although the people pay his hefty salary, Luft has spent his entire career in Miami ignoring their wishes. His nefarious plans to develop Virginia Key, as outlined by Paula Park, indicate he still isn't listening. Watch out.

Michael L. Carlebach
Coconut Grove

Allison on Robert: Younger
Robert Andrew Powell noted in his article "The Candidate" (October 23) that at age 36 Xavier Suarez was the youngest person in Miami's history elected mayor. Without diminishing Suarez's accomplishments, I believe that honor in fact goes to Robert L. Floyd, who earned the distinction in 1947 at age 33 and went on to become judge and sheriff in Dade County.

J. Allison DeFoor II

Robert on Allison: Younger Still
I thank J. Allison DeFoor very much. I must confess, however, that I was 29 years old when that happened. But being mayor caused me to think I was much older.

After three years I ran for the legislature and felt much better in those two terms.

Robert L. Floyd

Article Accurate! Subject Amazed!
I was amazed at the accuracy of Paula Park's reporting in her article concerning me and my work on a number of forensic-document cases, including the John F. Kennedy-Marilyn Monroe hoax ("It's Authentic When Linda Hart Says It's Authentic," October 23).

I was also impressed with the thorough job she did in checking out the information I gave her. I really wasn't expecting that. I've been interviewed before for similar features and this was the first time the reporter actually checked out the information and included quotes from outside sources.

I also want to commend your online editor for including a link to the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners' Website. Too often our field is confused with that of graphology. We are constantly trying to find ways to inform the judiciary and the public of the difference between forensic scientists and "handwriting experts." New Times has helped us take a giant step in that process.

Linda Hart

The New Times Charity Case o' the Month
Why do angels fly? Because they take themselves lightly!
As Kirk Semple reported, for Camillus House to be in financial difficulty ("First the Homeless, Now the Jobless," October 9) must be heartbreaking for Brother Paul Johnson, local presiding "angel" for the homeless.

If this community can come up with millions for sports arenas, port expansion, Metrorail, busways, surveys, art displays, fireworks, and office buildings, can't we generate some enthusiasm to take care of our most important commodity -- human beings in need?

I challenge New Times to start a fund for Camillus House from your readers. I'll bet you could cancel their financial shortfall immediately.

Ronald C. Rickey
Miami Beach

How to Write a Satire Without Really Realizing It
Paula Park's article about Dade County's public school administrators was very interesting ("How to Succeed in Education Without Really Studying," September 25). I told my sister about how Roger Cuevas and others got their master's degrees from nonaccredited schools. For five years she has been working on a degree, and she was dumbfounded! She questioned whether the article was satire. Am I taking New Times too seriously?

Martha Backer


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