Hooray for Bathroom Humor!
After reading Ted B. Kissell's article "The Bad Boys of Miami Beach" (April 2), I must begin reading the SunPost as well. Editor Michael Sasser was a classmate and friend of my daughter Gillian, first at Natural Bridge Elementary and later at North Miami Junior High (as it was then known) and North Miami High.
Mike had been on my mind for several weeks, ever since I read the rather lame and uninspired efforts of the Killian Nine and recalled an infinitely wittier piece of youthful satire a dozen years ago in the North Miami student paper -- an article about the indignities of the bathroom pass. Now that he covers local politics, I have no doubt that Mr. Sasser has greatly expanded the opportunity and inspiration for what the Monty Python troupe use to call "lavatorial humor."
I am delighted to know that this bright, irreverent, creative young man continues to work at his craft and is fulfilling his early promise.
Mary W. Cox
No Ethics, Lots o' Fun
Ethical or not, the old Miami Beach SunPost with Felix Stark at the helm was fun and exciting. I must admit that over the years, I contributed a few hundred letters to the editor, as well as a most famous front-page article (May 24, 1990) regarding a mayor who was having some difficulties. Felix would call me and say, "Ron, write something for me" and I would do so.
The public-relations people certainly did have tremendous influence over what was in the paper. It got to the point of nausea at election time; you knew who the paper would endorse by the amount of money spent on advertising. The "society" column was another area where influence got some people a bit more prominent space. But do we really care?
Having escorted the woman who wrote the society column, Betty Wickwire, I could write a book based on the secrets she uttered to me, but I would not dare. And again, who cares? Still, I wish we could return to the good old days of fudge and half-truths and all the rest.
Only Jerks Don't Love Us
I want to thank Ted B. Kissell for fair and accurate reporting on the SunPost. He did a good job of portraying both us and the dubious political environment in Miami Beach upon which we report. A couple of things stand out in particular.
Despite our zeal for covering the corruption, insider-dealing, and irrational use of public funds by some elements of Miami Beach's government, the SunPost remains in favor with most of city hall. Not only with the many employees who communicate with us regularly, but on the commission dais itself. I found it most amusing that the two commission members quoted in the story, Mayor Neisen Kasdin and Commissioner Nancy Liebman, are the only ones of the seven who feel so violently opposed to the work we do. That they are the only two incumbents not recommended by the SunPost in last year's election says something. That they received illegal campaign contributions from German developer Thomas Kramer (who went on to attempt to rape the people of Miami Beach) says something as well. Frankly, if these two heads of the same beast were thrilled with us, then I would know it was time to give up journalism.
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Mr. Kissell may or may not have been correct in portraying the state of the SunPost upon the arrival of me and my staff. That is, it presumably was in the same state as every other community newspaper in South Florida -- trying to stay alive in the electronic age. But what Kissell missed was that the SunPost's history extends back farther than his research, and that it had been the "grande dame" of Beach politics in its heyday. For that reason and that reason alone the SunPost was able to attract, hire, and keep South Florida's best political columnist, A.C. Weinstein; its best young new reporter, Erik Bojnansky; and me.
SunPost owner Jeannette Stark and publisher Andrew Stark deserve credit for allowing their editorial department to operate independent of the business side of the paper. That is how the SunPost is able to pursue its "murky" agenda of watchdogging the public's welfare -- and money. That is also how Mrs. Stark and the SunPost have earned the loyalty and affection of the "bad boys of Miami Beach."
Michael W. Sasser, editor
Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error, "The Bad Boys of Miami Beach" incorrectly identified the author of a SunPost article about Thomas Kramer's contributions to Neisen Kasdin's 1993 campaign for city commission. Michael Sasser was the author. New Times regrets the error.