NO POLITICS, NO HERESY
In "Politics and Power" (August 14) a reference was made to the Gay and Lesbian Youth Group of South Florida, Inc. in a quote attributed to Greg Baldwin. This quote is in error. As president of the youth group, I wish to make a correction.
In the article, it was suggested that the youth group participated in the debate over Club Body Center and that we attended the county commission discussion. In a larger sense this also might suggest that the youth group is a political organization. The youth group was formed in 1982 to provide peer counseling and social activities for young gays and lesbians. We offer one of the few places where young gays and lesbians can meet in a caring and supportive environment. This has been our mission for almost ten years.
The youth group is one of the oldest and largest gay and lesbian organizations in the southeastern United States. In Florida we were the first gay and lesbian organization to become incorporated. Greg Baldwin was one of the lawyers who helped us to do this. The youth group was then granted 501(c)(3) tax exemption. This IRS designation means that we are exempt from corporate taxes. In return, organizations under this status (gay or otherwise) are not permitted to be "substantially involved" in politics or the endorsement of political candidates.
The youth group is open to everyone, regardless of political ideology. Therefore it would be incorrect for us to take an "official" stance regarding political issues. We feel that there are many organizations through which our members can express their political voice. For us to become "political" would only lead us away from our mission.
We encourage our members to be aware of the community around them and to take a stand for what they believe in. Some people in our community feel that a gay and lesbian organization without politics is heresy. We disagree, and after ten years of success, I think we've earned the right to do so.
Byron Scott Jones, president
Gay and Lesbian Youth Group of South Florida
PENROD RETURNS VOLLEY
Yes, the pros have packed up their volleyballs and split Miami Beach, but it is not because of Penrod's, as Bill Barrere said in your article ("Where Have All the Spikers Gone?" August 14). They left Miami Beach because of the more profitable tournaments on the West Coast.
As owner and general manager of Penrod's Beach Club on Miami Beach, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify certain accusations made in your article regarding beach volleyball on South Beach. It is always great to receive free publicity, but I strongly believe your loyal readers deserve to know the facts.
Years ago, when we signed the concessions lease with the City of Miami Beach, we presented the city with a comprehensive proposal on how Penrod's was going to promote Miami Beach, and beach volleyball was one of the many activities included. We did not invest in volleyball courts because of Mr. Barrere. Penrod's did not set aside a "little" cash, as Mr. Barrere said, to build six courts. Those courts have professional nets and are professionally maintained.
When we first started promoting beach volleyball on South Beach, we thought that by bringing in the pros from California, the sport of beach volleyball was going to take off in Florida, but we were wrong! It became such an expensive venture that we had to make certain changes. Let me explain why.
California professional players such as Sinjin Smith and Karch Kiraly will not fly to Miami for less than a $30,000 cash prize. This amount, plus advertising and setup, airfares, hotel accommodations, meals, et cetera, make the budget for this type of event more than $40,000, all of which we would have to provide if Penrod's could not find sponsors to help offset the costs.
When Florida pros get to rank at the levels of the California players, guess what - they pack up their volleyballs and split Miami Beach to head to California! Why? Because they make beach volleyball their number-one source of income.
Then we started sponsoring women's beach volleyball tournaments with great players like Jackie Silva (as seen on ESPN). But even though the investment was about $10,000 less than the male pros, the back-up of local attendance was not present.
Taking into consideration that Florida is about ten years behind California when it comes to the sport of beach volleyball, this huge investment brought very little financial return for the sponsors. I'm sorry we must contradict Mr. Barrere's comments about the "fun seekers and beer drinkers" who packed Penrod's and took to the courts "en masse," whose sheer numbers "overwhelmed more serious players." What a joke! Our community is not fully aware of the sport. Beach volleyball is quite different from the volleyball we all played in school. So when we advertised these topnotch professional players, it was not a big deal for our local residents. Penrod's has an obligation to the community at large, and Mr. Barrere and his colleagues are just a few.
It is true that the Penrod's name got a lot of coverage by getting all these pros down to Miami for tournaments we sponsored, but it is also not true that volleyball helped us put money in the till. On the contrary, promoting our own professional beach volleyball tournaments ended up being cost-prohibitive for Penrod's.
A couple of years ago Penrod's made the decision to stop catering to the pros and start educating the community about beach volleyball by promoting it within local corporations, schools, and organizations. Why? Because regardless of what Mr. Barrere said in your article, Penrod's is committed to the sport of beach volleyball, but we are not committed to just a few pros.
As to sifting the sand for tournaments, our courts are raked to twelve inches below the surface. Penrod's volleyball courts were voted number one by New Times. So what makes Mr. Barrere an expert?
When we opened the club at First Street, we did not remove any courts from Tenth Street, and yes, we did not ask for Mr. Barrere's help, basically because I never knew he existed. If he was such an integral part of developing beach volleyball in South Beach, why hasn't he ever met with me or our marketing department? It just doesn't make sense. He refers to making a deal with Debbie Penrod. There is no such person. The Debbie he is probably referring to is Debbie Marsh.
Regarding the conflict between Penrod's and corporate sponsors that Mr. Barrere mentioned in the article, most of the sponsors demand that their product be sold exclusively at Penrod's for a certain amount of time (usually three to six months to a year). We cannot legally afford to make these types of deals.
Penrod's is not the only entity that is trying to turn beach volleyball into a profit-making venture. Everybody you quoted in your article - the pros, the organizers, the sponsors, the associations - are in the business to make a profit. The difference is that Penrod's is here to stay. We have 35 more years on our lease and we are not interested, like most of these organizers, in making a "quick buck." We are committed to making Miami Beach the home of beach volleyball in South Florida by educating our youngsters in this wholesome, fun, and sexy sport of the Nineties.
Robert A. Penrod
OFFICER GAGGED, WIFE SPEAKS
I am writing to you about your stories "Cops, Crimes, and Videotape" parts one and two (April 24 and July 31) to clarify several mistaken facts and to enlighten your readers on new facts not covered. I can probably inform you most accurately about this case since Coral Gables Police Officer Alan Davis is my husband. Unfortunately Officer Davis could not respond to your article due to a direct order from his supervisors forbidding him from making statements to the press.
On October 31, 1990, Officer Davis did take a videotape away from Guillermo Casulo, which contained alleged footage of a DUI arrest of Nancy Frost, and erased it in a dash-mounted video camera in his patrol car. What your article failed to state was that the Internal Affairs investigation revealed that no force or "tug of war" took place, and two independent witnesses, along with Officer Davis, stated that Mr. Casulo voluntarily gave the tape to him with the understanding that it was going to be erased.
Also, a supervisor not only was notified, but was present at the time of the incident. As Capt. Alan R. Headley stated in part two of your article, "Videotape as it relates to police matters is really a whole new area." Officer Davis did what he thought best without the intent to violate any person's rights.
One of your sources in the first article about this case was attorney Michael Catalano. The facts you reported involving the controversy with Mr. Catalano, Judge Harvey Baxter, and Judge Calvin Mapp, speak for themselves. It is obvious that Mr. Catalano will stop at nothing to discredit Officer Davis, since he has been unsuccessful in two court cases against him.
Officer Davis established the Coral Gables DUI Task Force and dedicated his own blood, sweat, and tears to make it the best. He was tired of seeing innocent people killed and maimed by drunk drivers, and would only strive for perfection in an untiring effort to make our highways safer for everyone. Not only was he the driving force that kept the task force running smoothly but he spent his own time educating others of the dangers of drinking and driving, and the apprehension of persons who didn't learn from his lessons and chose to drink and drive.
Officer Davis submitted his resignation from the DUI Task Force due to the negative publicity given to the unit he worked so hard to establish. He felt this move would allow the task force to continue aggressively enforcing DUI laws without him. This unfortunately was not the case. Since his resignation, case after case has been let go, including a traffic accident involving a drunk driver who seriously injured another person and was never tested or arrested for the crime. I just hope that the next victim of a drunk driver is not anyone who caused my husband to resign from the DUI Task Force.
THEY'RE NURSES, AND THEY'RE PISSED OFF
I would like to make one point perfectly clear in regard to your article about the collective-bargaining unit for registered nurses at Jackson Memorial Hospital ("Labor Pains," July 31): The nurses are not "flinging the doors wide open" for an AFL-CIO union to come in and represent us. Many nurses, like myself, are totally opposed to the idea of a trade union representing a profession.
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There are a few loud nurses who are trying to force this new union upon the rest of the RNs working at Jackson. Some of the tactics that have been used by these organizers have caused me not only to question their professionalism but also their motivations. There have been instances of coercion, misrepresentation, and verbal abuse since this campaign began, and I fear that it will only get worse as the election draws nearer.
I'm thankful that the Florida Nurses Association is continuing to represent the RNs at Jackson in a professional manner at the same time they are fighting this hostile takeover attempt. The difference between a collective-bargaining unit that is trying to maintain professional standards and a trade union that is only out to make money for itself is becoming more apparent with each passing day.
Darlene Crawford, RN
Jackson Memorial Hospital