Stupid Name Tricks
Sean Rowe's article "Name Droppers" (July 11) could have had some redeeming qualities when he examined why people decide to change their names. In particular, the section that sought out people named Fidel Castro living in Miami was fair commentary on Miami politics. However, any journalistic value was quickly lost by Mr. Rowe's lack of professionalism.
Mr. Rowe reduced himself to nothing more than a playground bully. Armed with a poison pen, he singled out and belittled innocent people solely on the basis of their names. Perhaps one day Mr. Rowe will have the misfortune of making fun of a boy named Sue. I would like to be there when that happens.
Louis Benson Louis IV
White Food for White Folks
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's "Happy Birthday to the Blacks, the Hispanics, and the Anglos" (July 11): I hope there will be a second part naming the food vendors who do not want to be located next to the black stage, as well as those who are willing to be located there. Inquiring minds also want to know whether the Boston Market people stand by the quote, "We're Anglo food," and whether that quote refers to the type of food they sell or the type of customers they want.
More Bike Trails, Fewer Excuses
I thought Sean Rowe's article "Up Snapper Creek Without a Pedal" (July 4) missed the mark. The recent death of a preeminent cyclist on Key Biscayne, who was struck and killed by a car while he was jogging on the bike path, helps to make that point. Dade County views bicyclists as nuisances who should use only existing bike paths. The problem is that every one of those bike paths forces cyclists to compete with cars. Cars always win. One has simply to look at the quotes attributed to Mr. Joe Maguire, natural areas management supervisor, to get the drift.
Dade County is failing in its responsibility to provide citizens with safe, accessible areas for recreation. Further, the county puts up a smoke screen designed to justify that failure -- in this particular instance by painting mountain bikers as death-defying extremists to be loathed and feared. Broward County has seen fit to spend dollars on at least three public mountain-bike facilities: Markham Park, Quiet Waters, and the Brian Piccolo velodrome. Each separates bikes from cars.
In Dade the only legal facility for mountain biking is operated by the state, not the county. Located at the Oleta River State Recreation Area, it opened earlier this year. Many of the same people Joe Maguire insinuates are responsible for trashing Snapper Creek volunteered most of the time and money to build that track.
In the year and a half I've known about Snapper Creek, the only new trails have been cut through grass, and I do not know grass to be especially sensitive or endangered. No one knows who cut the hole in the fence -- joggers, fishermen, or bikers. And anyone on the property could potentially sue. Much of the land in question is littered with construction debris, wire, metal poles, fishing line, beer bottles, telephone poles, concrete, and an abandoned, mosquito-infested concrete bunker, as well as tons of refuse washed up from the bay. Hardly the picture that comes to mind when one thinks of a "natural preserve."
If county bureaucrats were truly concerned with that land and its future, they would remove the fence, clean up the area, mark the trail, force the fishermen to take out what they bring in, and charge a fee or sell licenses that would include a waiver of liability and provide a suitable facility for people who wish to have some old-fashioned good clean fun.
On June 7, I had dinner with Ann Louise Bardach and Marcelo Rodriguez, a colleague from the Miami Herald. Following dinner Ann invited us to join her and her friend Elise Ackerman at Cafe Nostalgia, a nightclub on Calle Ocho. At Nostalgia, Ackerman greeted Ann with a warm embrace, and from all appearances, the two seemed to be close friends. After an evening of drinks, laughter, and dancing, the two parted after 3:00 a.m. To my surprise, Ackerman now writes ("Letters," July 4) that she only had a brief "professional" relationship with Ann Bardach, a characterization that does not square with what I observed that night.
Elise Ackerman replies: I am astonished that a trained observer such as Oppenheimer would conclude that greeting someone with a hug at a Latin nightclub indicates any sort of intimacy. After all, both Oppenheimer and his Miami Herald colleague greeted me with a hug and kiss when they joined my date and me at our table. I did not interpret their greeting to mean that we had formed a friendship. Furthermore, the nature of my contact with Bardach was irrelevant to the critical scrutiny of her reporting contained in my June 20 article "The Mobster Mash".
The Joy of Farmworking
Judy Cantor's "Home Truths" (June 27), about our farmworkers and their families, is the best portrait of the culture and choices facing agricultural workers in South Florida in a decade. Our only regret is that the cover and copy painted the lives of these often poor but hard-working families as far too gray and bleak. Nearly all of us who work with the farmworker community view its culture and daily life to be one filled with much more joy and color.
Robert J. Jensen, chairman
Everglades Community Association
Hey, Jerry, Ever Read Any Kafka?
When I read Elise Ackerman's article "Insult to Injury" (June 6), [concerning allegations of excessive force involving the Miami Beach Police Department], it really touched a nerve. Last January 12 I was a typical tourist in Miami out for some fun on a Friday night. A friend and I had a quiet dinner at home and hadn't any plans. I had my rental car for a few more days so why not drive around, I suggested. We drove around SoBe for an hour or so and then decided to go to a disco in South Miami I had heard about. We never made it.
Only a week after three South Beach discos were shut down in highly publicized late-night drug raids, the hysteria continued. Traffic was backed up and crawling on the MacArthur Causeway around 11:00 p.m., and at the very end we were all directed into a "sobriety" checkpoint. As in the incidents the week before, the cops were performing for the media: A national TV tabloid show (A Current Affair) was there wielding cameras.
I was asked for my license and if I had had anything to drink. I naively said that my friend and I had drunk one beer with dinner four hours earlier. The cop said to get out of the car. I was run through several checkpoint gymnastics with a crowd watching me and a camera crew following me around. After a half-hour of this circus, they had me sit down. Meanwhile several cops conducted on-camera interviews. I was asked to give a breath test. Now I was really getting scared. My friend was back in the car and couldn't see much or hear anything.
The TV crew lowered the sound boom over me and, with the light of the camera in my face, I blew. The cops covered the display panel so that neither I nor the cameras could see that I blew 0-0-0, the lowest possible reading. (I learned this later.) I was plenty sober. One beer four hours earlier hadn't affected me at all.
The camera crew tried to follow me into the trailer's bathroom while I gave a urine sample, but I objected. The cops had a good laugh.
I was arrested by the Metro-Dade Police Department for being high on drugs and spent three days in jail. Conditions were deplorable. I never use drugs. Never. I am a very light drinker and would never drink and drive. The fact that I was being accused of this was highly insulting. No one who knew me could believe it. My urine test showed that no drugs were in my system.
The police report (in very bad English) states how I was stumbling around and reeked of alcohol, and a toxicologist from the University of Miami remarks that I displayed, apparently, all the signs of someone on drugs.
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I protested my innocence to no avail. It was just a big joke to the cops. I strongly believe that the arresting officer knew I was not impaired. He abused his power in arresting me.
I'll never really know why I was arrested. I lived in South America last year and saw how afraid the people were of the police and witnessed disgraceful abuses of power. It could never happen in my country, I said. I was wrong.
I have a real fear of the police in Dade County and how they treat tourists. Finally my case was dismissed, but this was only after four months of pain and suffering. Why does this happen? How can we stop it? Are cops any better than the criminals they are paid by us to arrest?