Blumner's ACLU: In Good Hands Without Me
Paula Park's story about the ACLU's Robyn Blumner ("Free to Speak Her Mind," June 12) left out some of the things I said, thereby possibly conveying a somewhat distorted impression of my views. I continue to support the ACLU, which has done a tremendous job with cases involving the homeless, Santeria, and the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture, to name only a few.
The basic work of the organization is carried out by a group of dedicated volunteer lawyers. Since I am not an attorney, I felt that I could make a more significant contribution elsewhere. It is a matter of division of labor. I did not stop participating actively because I was disgruntled or frustrated; I felt the organization was in good hands.
The ACLU does need more Latino members. It is not good enough to say that anyone can join. The organization needs to look at the issue more closely and recruit more actively. But whatever disagreements I may have with Robyn Blumner regarding the sources of intolerance in the Cuban-American community or the lack of participation of Latinos in the organization, we agree on the basic issue that threats against the First Amendment, wherever they may come from, must be fought. I think Blumner did a good job of advancing the agenda of civil liberties during her tenure as head of Florida's chapter of the ACLU.
Max J. Castro
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Blumner's ACLU: Closer to Socialism or Death than Life and Liberty
In reading "Free to Speak Her Mind," I am reminded of an old saying: "If you repeat a lie many times over, it becomes the truth." In the article, Paula Park asked Ms. Blumner: "[But] you've never discussed the climate of intolerance in Miami's Cuban community." Nice question. She should also ask it of Francisco Aruca, whom I've repeatedly and publicly invited to speak on my radio show. He has refused, of course.
Ms. Park also failed to mention the assassination of the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots, murdered by Mr. Aruca's pal Fidel Castro for trying to express their freedom to save lives in the Florida Straits. She further failed to mention the large number of dead bodies the "intolerant" Cuban community has been burying for years as a result of the actions of the oppressive communist pals of Mr. Aruca. Does she know how many rafters have drowned in the last few years? How many children we have buried? How many people have been torn apart by sharks? Try to imagine watching a son or daughter overturning on a raft and being torn apart by sharks in front of your eyes. Come on! How dare she call us intolerant.
I do believe in freedom of expression. I have repeatedly placed calls to state-run Radio Rebelde, Radio Progreso, Cuban state security, and any Castro sympathizer I can think of in order to ask them questions regarding the above-mentioned tragedies. Their response has always been to hang up the phone. They say they will never speak to "enemies of the revolution." So who is intolerant?
Does Ms. Park have any proof that the fire bombs and the bomb threats she refers to in her article were actually the work of members of the Cuban community? Did she ever see The Manchurian Candidate? We in the Cuban community believe these extremists are actually Cuban state security agents sent by Castro to discredit us.
I have received numerous death threats from individuals who identified themselves as defenders of the revolution. The threats prompted the radio station to prohibit any more calls to Cuba. Our radio station has been shot at on at least three occasions in 1997 alone (yes, actual bullets), and Ms. Park speaks of exile intolerance? The intolerance is from the ones who believe in socialism or death, not from those of us who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Enrique Pollack,program director
Havana Rock (WWFE-AM 670)
Blumner's ACLU: Praise the Constitution and Pass the Ammunition
Robyn Blumner seems to suffer from the same associative dysfunction as the upper management of the ACLU. Thus it is more correct to describe her as a liberal rather than a civil libertarian, because her world view prevents her from thinking conceptually, from, as she put it, lifting a principle from one set of facts and applying it to another. I refer specifically to the ACLU's vaunted defense of the rights of every citizen as guaranteed under the Constitution -- except the Second Amendment ["... the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed"].
The intellectual honesty and courage to defend all rights, however personally troubling, is the mark of the civil libertarian. To selectively support only what makes you feel good is the mark of the hypocrite.
Tom W. Glaser
Odio Dropped the Glass Ceiling on My Head
While Robert Andrew Powell's article "Degrees of Ineptitude" (June 12) correctly stated that Cesar Odio terminated my employment with the City of Miami, his account of the basis for my termination was inaccurate.
My termination as coordinator of the city's Neighborhoods Jobs Program (the Overtown Jobs Program) for sixteen years was not due to dereliction of my responsibilities, but rather it was the consequence of the city's historical discriminatory employment practices. Under Odio's stewardship, and as the city's financial condition plummeted, racial and ethnic tensions flourished. The glass ceiling for qualified African-American employees was lowered.
Additionally, I was disfavored because I dared to challenge Odio's placement of unqualified personnel on my staff (which he did with support from union representative Charlie Cox). The so-called investigations orchestrated by Odio and Cox were not initiated to substantiate that I had poor work habits but were motivated by their determination to get rid of a person they could not manipulate. In fact, contrary to the information contained in Mr. Powell's article, the undisputed evidence and sworn testimony presented at my appeal hearing before the Civil Service Board disclosed that the quality of the investigation was so poor that the investigators did not actually see me on most of the days in question and that they intentionally misrepresented my activities while I was under surveillance.
For example, on one of the days the police investigator reported that I was home and not at work, I was with Police Chief Donald Warshaw and attorney Joseph Serota (whose firm continues to represent the city against me), along with hundreds of other people at the Community Relations Board Summit at the Radisson Hotel. On another day, at the time the union investigator claimed I was running personal errands, I was actually with Odio at a city commission meeting, where it was being acknowledged that my program was receiving almost one million dollars.
The city and the union have chosen not only to ignore the truth about my termination, they are perpetuating the dishonorable tradition of rewarding or ignoring incompetence and dishonesty.
Ivey Kearson, Jr.
Robert Andrew Powell replies: In December 1995, after the union investigation was released, Kearson told New Times that he did not dispute its findings.
Myths: Tell the Kids We Care
I read with great interest "Myths Over Miami" (June 5) by Lynda Edwards. Reading about the stories these homeless children use to battle the frustrating despair they must deal with on a daily basis was quite eye-opening. In addition to bringing to life the faces, hopes, and fears of these young children, Ms. Edwards's article also conveyed the fact that, as time passes and they grow a bit older, the hope that someone will help slowly fades and the reality of the world in which they live sets in.
As a result of Ms. Edwards's article, the Zonta Club of Greater Miami, part of Zonta International, is already making plans to collect donations of school supplies and back-to-school clothing for the children, as well as other needed items, and is working on ways to implement some ongoing service projects for them.
I would like to commend Ms. Edwards and New Times for a story that was very meaningful and a refreshing change of pace from the scandalous stories of wrongdoing that are so abundant in Miami these days. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to let the children know that someone does care.
Rosa Naccarato, vice president
Zonta Club of Greater Miami
Myths: Edwards an Angel
I congratulate New Times for publishing Lynda Edwards's excellent "Myths Over Miami." In recounting the children's fantasies, Ms. Edwards managed to convey both the horrifying reality of their destitution and their innocent faith in some ultimate, saving power that will come to lift them out of their involuntary poverty.
Ms. Edwards's article made me realize that I too believe in those children's fantasies. I believe that their poverty and the dangers that accompany it are the result of the evil power and influence capitalist greed wields over society. I believe that a struggle between the better angels of our nature and the demons of private property and profit -- the Furies of private interests -- is being waged while they sleep in those measly, grudging shelters provided for them by those who mistakenly believe that "the poor will always be among us."
I hold great hope for those children because they know (in that innocent way only children can know) that there really are angels out there fighting to save their lives. Lynda Edwards just may be one of them.
Portofino's Minister of Propoganda?
Despite John Dellagloria's wisecrack about the publication of an accurate article ("Letters," June 5), Ted B. Kissell's journalistic career is secure. Kissell obviously bent over backward to be objective about the just-passed Save Miami Beach charter amendment ("The Hale-Bopp Amendment," May 29).
Dellagloria's letter did not reveal that he was one of the primary authors of the convoluted, land-raping giveaway called the Portofino Agreement. Popularly known on South Beach as "Portofino's Minister of Propaganda," Dellagloria is now safely ensconced in North Miami. And now his work is in shambles, justly trashed by Miami Beach voters.
North Miami voters need to start asking their elected officials why him?
Richard H. Rosichan
Best Evidence of Intelligent Life on the Mainland
It's good to see a Miami DJ like Alex Gutierrez finally being recognized by your readers (Best Club DJ, Readers' Poll, "Best of Miami," May 15). This guy has grown up with us here in Miami and was making us dance long before South Beach became hip. This proves that we, the readers, know that talent exists outside of South Beach.
Best Elated Volunteers
Please extend to the staff of New Times our appreciation for selecting Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami as the Best Charity in the "Best of Miami." We were elated to have this honor bestowed upon our organization, and we join with you in recognizing and applauding the labor of the thousands of volunteers who move forward the work of Habitat for Humanity.
Anne E. Manning, executive director
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami
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