Shame on Greg Baker for smudging his column ("Program Notes," April 1) with acrimonious comments about a subject about which he apparently has little knowledge. Although illegal jitneys may save a small minority of bus riders 25 cents and a few minutes here and there, they are generally a disservice to the public, including taxpayers, bus riders, and visitors.
A case in point: After enjoying the nightlife in South Beach, a German tourist couple boarded a jitney, clearly marked "Aventura," in order to reach their motel in Sunny Isles. The jitney driver did not "feel like" going that far, so he dumped them at 96th Street in Bal Harbour. At that late hour, the streets of Bal Harbour and points north are mostly deserted. It was a cost-effective move on the part of the driver; there were plenty of fares back in South Beach. He was "getting the job done better." The tourists, however, were stranded, alone, in an unfamiliar area, and did not receive the service for which they had paid. When I happened to drive by in my taxi and pick them up, they were grateful but obviously upset by the treatment they had received from the jitney service which they thought was a bona fide form of transportation.
In Dade County, taxi and jitney drivers pay $40 per year for a license which makes them accountable to the government, and thus, the public. Illegal jitney drivers answer to no one, and sometimes lack even a state driver's license.
So Greg should keep listening to the music. But if he ever drives along Biscayne Boulevard or Collins Avenue, I caution him to be extremely alert. You never know when some "superior service" provider is going to cut you off and jam on the brakes, in order to snatch a dollar or two from the Big Bad Government Monopoly which has gobbled up all the bus business, including such quasi-profitable areas as Carol City, Miami Lakes, Perrine, and Homestead.
THE LHASA APSO YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN
On behalf of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), I would like to thank Greg Baker for educating the public in his "Program Notes" column of April 1 about the ramifications of dissection and vivisection as they pertain to the theft of companion animals.
The demand for animals to be used for biomedical research and classroom dissection has created quite an incentive for unscrupulous people to steal dogs and cats. Some people actually make a living stealing and selling animals. They also answer advertisements that offer free puppies, kittens, cats, and dogs to "good homes." This is why anyone attempting to place an animal should always charge at least a nominal fee and screen prospective buyers thoroughly.
I would like to add a number four to the three suggestions for curtailing the theft of companion animals mentioned in the article to which Greg Baker referred. If at all possible, don't let your dogs and cats out of your sight. Animals roaming the neighborhood often annoy and anger neighbors, who sometimes resort to poisoning or otherwise cruelly destroying animals they consider a nuisance.
We are responsible for the health and safety of our four-legged friends, and we must keep them from the clutches of sadistic, heartless, and greedy people who have no regard for the rights of nonhuman animals who cannot defend themselves.
Marian Lentz, vice president
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
BEST VEGAN TOUT
You're probably used to getting a lot of "you forgot about me" letters after the exhaustive 1992 Best of Miami issue (March 25), but this one is a little different.
Why has New Times never acknowledged Our Place, a wonderful vegan restaurant on South Beach? It's been there for years, and you have written about many of its neighbors that have come and gone.
There were several categories in the 1992 Best of Miami issue where you might have mentioned Our Place if you'd wanted to be fresh and different - "Best Natural Food Restaurant," "Best Restaurant Trend," and "Best Place for Appetizers" among them.
No sense in crying over spilled soy milk; after all, that Best of Miami issue is history now. It would be nice, though, to see a review of Our Place in a future issue. I eat there often, and as far as I can discern, Our Place has all the qualities your able restaurant critic, Sue Mullin, and her dining companion seem to appreciate: It's located on South Beach - Washington Avenue, no less; the portions are as healthy as the ingredients; interesting-looking people frequent the place; it has its unique charm and atmosphere; the menu offers delicious, imaginative fare; and it has live jazz most weekends.
One of my dining companions suggested that perhaps it is a gender or racial thing, but on consideration of what seems to be your editorial policy, we dismissed that idea. Someone else suggested that you only mention restaurants that advertise. This seems more likely, since the paper does depend solely on advertising for revenue. Whatever the case, it sure would be nice to see a review of this unpretentious, socially conscious coffee house/eatery.
BEST JAGUAR FARE
Opinions are opinions, but facts are facts.
It was obvious that whoever wrote the selection of Real Foods as "Best Health Food Store" in the 1992 Best of Miami issue does not have his facts in order. Real Foods is a fine store and is certainly worthy of note, but to print that prices at Unicorn Village Market are higher is a nonfact.
The fact that Unicorn Village gets its fair share of Jaguars and Mercedes (you forgot Rolls-Royces) is true, but we also get a greater share of far lesser cars - even used Yugos. Our prices are well known for being the lowest in the industry. Somehow your writer assumed that because we have high-priced cars parked outside, we have high prices inside.
I would invite your writer to buy a bag or two of food at Real Foods and then buy those same items at Unicorn Village. I'm certain my point will be well taken. Your readers already know. It's high time New Times knows too!
Ronald M. Funt, director of marketing
Unicorn Village Market
BEST BROAD PARAMETERS
The New Times 1992 Best of Miami issue has taken you to a new level of sexism! "Best Place to Break Up with Your Significant Other" - Hooters - obviously you think only men dump women. Where should a girl go to dump a guy so she doesn't have to hear his death and suicide threats?
Three categories of best strippers! This is as stupid as having a category of best place to see blacks mistreated! At the very least you should provide a best place to see men naked. "Best Topless Beach" - why no mention of where to go to see best male bodies? Why the reference to best bar to see G-strings without a category for best bar for looking at male bodies? Even your "Best $5 Haircut" had to throw in a reference to Playboy!
Wake up, New Times, this is the 1990s. Either drop the constant reference to women as sexual objects or make equal time for your female readers!
YO CHUCK - GET WITH THE POGROM!
I am writing this letter because of an item Chuck Shepherd wrote in the "News of the Weird" on March 18 about "the white supremacist group the Aryan Nations." Aryan Nations is not a white "supremacist" group. Aryan Nations did not rob armored cars in the Eighties, or any time. The group that he is talking about is the Order/Bruder Schweign. They did more than just rob armored cars! If he is going to write about these groups, he should get his facts straight. If he wants, he can ask me, I'll help.
The March 4 edition of New Times featured an article by Steven Almond about the implementation of Project Triggerlock in the Southern District of Florida ("Trigger Happy"). The thrust of the article was that the cases prosecuted under Project Triggerlock are consistently of poor quality and that the penalties upon conviction of the underlying offenses are too severe. The article cited only a few cases in which there were acquittals while toatlly neglecting to consider the many more cases in which the juries returned guilty verdicts.
As to Federal Public Defender Jim Gailey's criticism that there is a general paucity of evidence in many Triggerlock cases, coupled with a deficient investigation that precipitates an indictment: No responsible and ethical prosecutor could reasonably disagree with the need to carefully and responsibly screen the cases presented for prosecution by law enforcement agents. Triggerlock cases are no different. As to how those cases were screened prior to my appointment as interim U.S. attorney, I have no comment nor will I address any complaint. Since my appointment, however, I, along with the supervisors in charge of our Triggerlock cases, have made certain that each Triggerlock case is closely reviewed to ensure, first, that it is a case which should be prosecuted at all, and second, that it is one properly included in the federal Triggerlock program. During the past 90 days, a total of sixteen cases have been presented to this office for prosecution, of which only eight have been found to be acceptable for prosecution under Triggerlock.
Mr. Gailey and his staff also pose the argument that the statutorily required sentence of fifteen years for a convicted armed career criminal is too severe. I believe, however, that such an argument reflects a position completely at odds and out of touch with the mainstream concerns of society. The legislative history behind the statute reflects the concern, indeed the outrage, of Congress that the same offenders repeatedly were being arrested for victimizing the community, and, that they were routinely in possession of dangerous firearms having no discernible purpose other than causing the injury or death of another human being. The law mandating this fifteen-year sentence takes into account the dangerous and violent proclivities of these individuals and seeks to incarcerate them before they can once again victimize the community.
Law enforcement, especially in the area of violent crime, is usually relegated to investigating crimes which have already occurred. The armed-career-criminal statute, however, recognizes that no good can possibly be derived by a felon, thrice convicted of narcotics offenses or violent crimes, who is in possession of a gun.
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The New Times article in general, and the federal public defenders, emphasize the acquittals which have occurred in Triggerlock cases. It is regrettable, however, that no attempt was made by your staff to let the public know how and when the Triggerlock program has succeeded.
James G. McAdams, III, interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida
Editor's note: It is equally regrettable, in our view, that the U.S. Attorney's Office continues to stubbornly maintain a policy of not allowing its prosecutors to speak with reporters, even about cases that have been closed. Indeed, were such a practice abandoned, New Times's investigation of Triggerlock cases might have rendered different results. And rendered McAdams's letter, perhaps, unnecessary.