We Love Art, We Just Don't Want to Pay for It
Judy Cantor's article regarding the arts in Miami Beach ("Everybody's a Critic," April 3) indicated that the city's public officials are doing little to support the Art in Public Places Committee and its initiatives. I take this opportunity to clarify some recent developments in regard to this issue.

In 1995 I proposed an amendment to the city's Art in Public Places ordinance. The passage of this amendment reaffirmed the committee's role by appropriating one and one-half percent of the construction budget from the Ballet Valet parking garage [at Collins Avenue and Seventh Street] to the Art in Public Places Fund. Additional changes granted the committee latitude in utilizing these funds. Monies that were once restricted to individual projects could now be used citywide.

The issue resurfaced in 1996 when it became apparent that the city had not appropriated the funds. I brought the matter before the commission to clarify and correct the situation. The commission authorized the appropriation of the proper amounts for use by the Art in Public Places Committee. I too am disappointed that commission directives have not been promptly implemented. I and other members of the commission, however, have strongly supported the Art in Public Places program and the initiatives of the committee members.

Neisen Kasdin, commissioner
Miami Beach

Carnival: Urinating, Green-Card-Seeking, Gut-Hanging Riffraff
Kirk Semple's article on the Carnival Miami South Beach ("South Beach Goes Palm Beach," April 3) hit a touchy nerve, but nonetheless a real one. I am for the merchants of Miami Beach!

It seems that the good is always getting trashed by the bad. Why on Earth must these merchants who have brought "class" to Ocean Drive and who have something of value to contribute fall victim to some particular class of people? I know; I was there.

A lot of alcohol, a lot of gut-hanging, belly-showing, uneducated green-card seekers urinating and making a mess of things. The riffraff of Miami. Never again! Jose Marban, [executive director of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana], should have Carnival in front of his house!

The residents of Miami Beach pay big-time money to live and conduct their business in a fashionable manner. Let this trashy event take place in Hialeah. The Beach should remain off-limits to these scenes unless they're something like the Las Olas events or the Grove festivals. There you have something to be proud of. Isn't Calle Ocho enough?

You know, there are a lot of lovely people out here who will say they don't go to those events; it's always a bunch of low-lifes trashing the place. The sad part is that it's the hard-working people who have to pay in taxes to clean up the mess. And yes, I am Latin and I live in North Dade, not Miami Beach.

Carmen Rodriguez
North Dade

Carnival: Pull Up the Drawbridge
Kirk Semple's piece "South Beach Goes Palm Beach" may help us come to grips with the worldwide phenomenon in which volunteer service groups with cute-sounding names and probable links to some Masonic organization promote Carnival-type events during the period of Lent. Remember, Lent is a traditional Christian period of renewal before Easter and has its roots in ancient Rome .

Mr. Semple quotes Jose Marban as saying, "You have a city, you have a public, and the public wants it!" Perhaps the fact that the Kiwanis Club would target a designated national treasure (the Art Deco district of South Beach) for a so-called Carnival is a wake-up call, and it's time for vigilance along the city walls.

Gerald Patrick
Miami Beach

Carnival: Unrestrained Licentious Behavior Is Now Outlawed
There is Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Fantasy Fest in Key West, Carnival Miami along Calle Ocho, and hordes of other happenings all over the United States. These get-togethers are not described in the same way that Ocean Drive merchants described the Beach Carnival.

Of course, with 150,000 people enjoying themselves, one can always expect some disruptions. I pity the police who had to handle that crowd. The merchants, residents, and property owners had their gripes, and many were probably justified, but if it was a free-for-all with "unrestrained licentious behavior," as some said, will we now try to legislate morality at upcoming events?

So much for the price of success on Ocean Drive.
Ronald C. Rickey
Miami Beach

Ira Doesn't Have to Die? What a Relief!
I read very attentively Ira Kurzban's letter about the "terrorist" Cubans in the Miami area (April 10). With my limited English, I want to insert some comments.

Mr. Kurzban says that "there have been more than 38 documented cases of terrorism in the last several years alone committed against Cuban Americans in this community simply because they have a differing point of view from the most extreme elements in the Cuban community." Mr. Kurzban has degraded the term "terrorism" to the level of one or two punches between antagonistic demonstrating groups of people on different occasions. I thought that an act of terrorism was something more serious, like the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma, or at least the kidnapping or killing of a person.

I would like to know how many Cuban Americans have died in this area because of the sympathy some of them may have for the musicians of the Castro government, musicians who come to the land of freedom looking for dollars to sustain a bloody and dictatorial oppressor of the Cuban people for more than 38 years. And who told Mr. Kurzban that the Molotov cocktail thrown at Centro Vasco was not the act of one of Castro's agents? The same could be asked about the multiple telephone calls and threats against Castro's half artists/half ambassadors.

Mr. Kurzban also wrote, "The radio stations you [letter-writer Emiliano Antunez] defend not only support and encourage that kind of attitude, but in one case they were actually cited by the City of Miami police for their involvement in incitement to riot." I am a listener of Spanish radio stations, as well as of those in English and even in Creole. About the Spanish-language stations I am able to clearly say they are doing just what an honorable Cuban or Cuban American must do: keep alive the torch of the struggle for the freedom of Cuba.

Yes, Mr. Kurzban, in case you do not realize, Cuba is only 90 miles south of Key West, a shorter distance from Miami than is the city of Orlando. It has been almost 39 years under a despotic dictatorship. You ask, in arguing against Mr. Antunez: "On what planet do you reside?" That's a good question you yourself must answer about the ignorance or double standard you show regarding the Cuban political and economic situation. The Cuban people in the Miami area, including myself, who arrived to this country in 1963 will not consider themselves living a regular and ordinary life until Cuba is free and independent. Yes, we are committed to the freedom of Cuba, and we plan to keep a firm stand on this issue. You must admire and respect this firm attitude instead of jumping so easily against Cubans.

Cubans respect and admire the fight of Jews for Israel and the fight that any other patriots have for their land. Cubans in this area have shown great restraint in dealing with the provocateurs of the Cuban government who arrive here for the purpose of getting dollars and of dividing the community -- with the help of some people like you.

To finish my comments, if the Spanish-speaking radio stations in Miami have been inciting riots, I tell you they have failed to get results, because since the beginning of the Cuban exile in South Florida, you cannot enumerate even one real instance of what all dictionaries define as a riot.

Do not worry, Mr. Kurzban. Disagree all you want. Go and enjoy the music of Los Van Van, or go and hug Mr. Castro. And come back and show up on TV. You will not have to die. There are some people who are doing just that, and they keep alive and well among these radical and "batty lunatic" Cubans, as you call us.

Adolfo Costa


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