Dukes to Heat: Take Your Turkey and Stuff It
I have just read Norma Jean Walker's opinion of the Miami Heat's support of the Overtown community ("Letters," November 14). Now let me give you my opinion. The letter states that the Heat sponsored the first Thanksgiving celebration and will do so again this year. This contribution should not be overlooked, but it's certainly not enough.
I am a single mother of a three-year-old daughter who attends Frederick Douglass Elementary and is enrolled in the Head Start program. Not once has she brought home a notice saying, "As role models of the community here to exert positive influences on the young people of the future, the Miami Heat will be appearing at your child's school to lecture on the importance of staying in school, setting good examples, and stressing the need for a college education." These are things I am instilling in my daughter, but to hear them from world-famous Heat players would reinforce the issues for my daughter and a lot of other kids.
When I ride Metrorail on occasion into downtown Miami, it pains me to look out at Overtown and see all the dilapidated buildings. Some buildings are in need of nothing more than a paint job. The Miami Arena, however, sits pristine and unscathed by the overwhelming poverty.
Overtown is not full of mansions and expensive cars like some neighborhoods, but it is home to one and many. I sincerely believe that the Miami Heat players and owners felt they would build the arena, throw scraps at the residents of Overtown, and think nothing of it. Everything the Heat has done for Overtown has been vestiges, offered to Overtown residents as an afterthought.
I challenge the Miami Heat to take action. The players make millions of dollars per year, yet all they contributed as a monetary gift to Overtown was a check for a little over $500? Overtown is one of the poorest places in the country; the people do not need to be patronized. I do not commend the Heat on anything they have done to uplift the Overtown residents. Why? Because a lot more could and should have been done. The Heat made promises to Overtown that they half-heartedly fulfilled. The Heat should be ashamed to call themselves contributors to the Overtown community.
If the Miami Heat cannot think of enough things to do for Overtown, I'll be happy to help them out with a few suggestions:
*Provide free bus passes to teenagers actively enrolled and attending school. They need more than Heat T-shirts to make it.
*How about some paint?
*Schedule more appearances in local elementary and junior high schools in the Overtown area.
*Set up a program that's ongoing and everlasting -- involving Heat players and Overtown residents -- to help beautify Overtown.
Yolantha V. Dukes
Is Sam Thomspon Fighting a Winnable War?
Whoa! I hope Sam Thompson ("Uncommon Law," November 7) is not trying to manage the University of Miami School of Law the way the Vietnam War was managed. We all know the result of that: a lot of casualties and a big goose egg in the win column. Already there appear to be a lot of casualties.
Remember, "it takes a village" to build a law school, not someone trying to go it alone. You must "build a bridge," not just use worn-out old campaign slogans such as "top 20 law school" over and over again.
James W. Kelly
Perfectly Professional Paula
I must pay Paula Park the ultimate compliment of saying that I don't know what she personally thinks of UM law school dean Sam Thompson. It was a fine piece of writing by a genuine professional.
Going Hungry and Going Broke
Jen Karetnick's complaint that the new Pacific Heights restaurant ("Fear of Flying," November 7) serves tiny portions with high prices reminds me of the first and last time I ate at sister restaurant Pacific Time on Lincoln Road. The entrees contained so little food that we left hungry after paying too high a price for what we were served. I am not a big eater, but three times the amount of food on our plates would have equaled the main course at any other restaurant. The owners of these restaurants insult their customers.
A Museum Is Railroaded
Mr. David Frankle of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) clearly displays why a problem without resolution has developed. Saying that the Gold Coast Railroad Museum ("The Little Museum That Couldn't," October 31) was a Volkswagen before the storm and that we now expect a Cadillac to be paid for with taxpayer's money is not only misleading to the community but once again reaffirms that the volumes of documentation submitted by the museum have been either not read, not understood, or ignored.
I, and any other taxpayer, would not want to think that any government employee or agency would knowingly waste more than one million tax dollars on a nonfunctioning structure. What was not made clear in the article is what created this waste of funds.
As Sean Rowe reported, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum has followed instructions provided by the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs employees. The State of Florida is the grant recipient for FEMA funds. The museum is a sub-grantee. We have never had direct access to the Federal Emergency Management Administration staff.
Immediately after Hurricane Andrew, the museum was included as part of a pilot program for nonprofit organizations. President Bush promised 100 percent funding for recovery projects. The dollar figures for our museum projects were grossly underestimated, and we were assured that these were only estimates and that the real costs would be paid.
The museum staff made it very clear to our architect that this was a limited budget project only to meet codes and standards for Dade County and nothing more. We solicited five bids; the guidelines required only three. The lowest bidder was Harrison Construction Company, a long-established and respected Miami corporation.
Funding was granted after many meetings with state and federal representatives, the contractor and architect, and museum representatives. The museum would not commit to a contract until the funds to cover the bid were guaranteed by FEMA.
FEMA mandated that hurricane protective barriers be installed, and provided several thousand dollars of additional funding to protect the property during future disasters. A letter from FEMA stated that unless we complied with this requirement there would be no funding for the construction of the museum building. It is very important to understand that the government agencies were well aware this was a monumental undertaking. There was not one product available that met Dade County requirements for this type of application.
Construction was delayed and county codes were changed as we submitted papers and held discussions about the substantial increases in cost for the hurricane barriers, in the event a product that met requirements could be either found or engineered. All cost increases in this project are directly attributable to the bureaucracy.
The only issue in this post-hurricane disaster is that someone in the government, either at the state or federal level, approved the construction plans submitted for our building. Funds were allocated and paid. One year after project approval, there has been a change of mind by reviewers. A "mistake" was made. After two years of meetings and reviews by professional government employees, is the government admitting it was negligent in following rules and regulations? Were their employees not trained or qualified? The government will admit there is not one item in our construction package that is above the current code.
A second item in the article that needs to be corrected is that the museum is open weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and weekends 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is five dollars for adults and three for children under twelve years of age. Our phone number for information is 253-0063; the fax number is 233-4641. Our Web page is at http://www.elink.net/goldcoast.
We invite every taxpayer to visit the museum to see firsthand the monument of government bureaucracy and waste. A million dollars of tax money -- your money -- was spent on a jumble of nonfunctioning concrete pillars. Every taxpayer should be enraged by this government waste. I welcome an explanation by my state and federal representatives as to how it happened.
Connie Greer, director
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Feedback and a Dose of Reverb for Emilio
In reference to Israel "Cachao" Lopez ("Reverb," October 17), I agree with John Floyd. Frank Amadeo, vice president of Crescent Moon Records, isn't telling the truth. Besides, what happened with the legendary "queen of the bolero," the songstress Olga Guillot?
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Her fans clamor for a new album of boleros. "La Guillot" is well-known in Spain and all Latin American countries. Tributes are appreciated in life; when those legends are dead, what for? What do you have to say in reference to Olga Guillot, Mr. Amadeo or Emilio Estefan?
Celia Cruz, the "queen of salsa," and Olga Guillot are unique living legends from Cuba. The nobility of Cuban music are Rita Montaner and Beny More (both dead).
Last week's cover story by Kathy Glasgow, "Clinical Depression," incorrectly stated that Miami Supportive Housing Corporation is a branch of a New York nonprofit. Miami Supportive Housing Corporation is a Dade County-based organization. New Times regrets the error.