Caught on Tape: Kill the Messenger

Letters from the Issue of April 21, 2005

Yes, innocent until proven guilty, but $50,000 for a real-estate deal? Why is it that in select cases, when people don't like the message, they attack the messenger? That's what happened in "Caught on Tape" (April 14).

I thought Francisco Alvarado and Rebecca Wakefield's article on the recorded telephone conversation concerning a Doral development project and state Rep. Ralph Arza was very well balanced. Whoever gave this recording to New Times did the right thing.

That said, we live in a country where people are considered innocent unless proven otherwise. New Times gave everyone involved -- attorney Stanley Price, developer Masoud Shojaee, and Arza -- a chance to respond to what was on the tape. Then again, Arza's proposed lobbying fee of $50,000 sure seems like a lot of money for yet another real-estate deal in Northwest Miami-Dade County.

Phil Secada


Caught on Tape: Parting the Curtains

Saintly reputations brought low by the truth: In the name of all the decent people of this city, I thank Francisco Alvarado and Rebecca Wakefield for their great work in "Caught on Tape," informing us of the way things are done in this town.

Please continue to tell the truth about what is going on behind the curtains where the politicians, attorneys, and powerful and influential businessmen get together without any concern for ethics. It's always good that someone inform us about the impeccable and saintly reputations of some of these characters. This is the way to do good journalism!

Oscar Rincon


Caught on Tape: Doral Is the Iceberg's Tip

Below the surface lurks Miami Beach and North Bay Village: The last time I saw Francisco "Frank" Alvarado was around December 2002 as he was complaining that the prostitutes he was writing about were demanding money in order to talk to him.

Stanley Price, Masoud Shojaee, and Ralph Arza know that Frank is a weak sister. Even your own transcripts of his interview bear that out. The whole "Yes massuh, no massuh" thing from Alvarado is disheartening, especially if you seek to deliver a blow to people who are quite flagrantly violating the law.

Even though your front page reads, "Sleazy? Sure. But what do you expect? This is Miami," and that is most certainly correct, you leave out many things that are so much more abhorrent about Miami-Dade County, most especially Miami Beach, North Bay Village, and the City of Miami. Doral is nothing.

In the article Stanley Price says, "You guys [New Times] sensationalize things. That's how [Jim] DeFede rose to power." That's bullshit. DeFede "rose to power" because he was like Jabba the Hut, literally. He held his ground and made no bullshit about any of it.

D. M. Fields


Caught on Tape: How to Fix It

This solution brought to you by the Alvarez for strong-mayor committee:

The practices described in "Caught on Tape" is exactly why we need a change in the political system in Miami-Dade County. This is the reason why we need a strong-mayor form of government more in line with other major municipalities in the United States.

Although in this instance the county commissioners are not involved, I suspect the conduct revealed on the tape is prevalent in county government as well. When will the backroom politics come to an end? When we change the city charter and put the power where it belongs -- in the hands of our mayor.

Leonardo Ullivarri


Editor's note: In "Caught on Tape," a reference was made to developer Armando Codina using Stanley Price for zoning variances. That information was drawn from the county's listing of lobbyists and their clients (, where Price states he is registered to represent the Codina Group for "land use, zoning, and environmental issues." Mr. Codina says he has used Price only once (not for zoning) and that he does not represent the Codina Group. Also see "Caught on Tape, Part 2," which reports that the State Attorney's Office has opened an investigation.

From Reputable Newspaper to Tabloid Rag

Free weekly abandons virtue, embraces gutter scum: As a Miami native, I have always thought of New Times as a reputable local paper -- until now. After reading The Bitch's column "Don't Buy a Lottery Ticket, Nocturnal" (April 14), I now can only think of you as a tabloid rag willing to skew the truth in order to create controversy at the expense of hard-working, honest people.

To set the record straight, Dan Dausey is not a manager at Nocturnal nightclub, nor is he employed by our parent company, Kore Entertainment. Dan actually works for our contractor, TGC Construction, and is the construction boss on the job. We have nothing but complete trust in Dan Dausey, both in his abilities on the job and his integrity as a person.

I was, in fact, arrested in 1987 on the charges The Bitch stated [burglary of a structure and possession of burglary tools]. The Bitch also correctly noted that "no action was taken in that case." However, what she failed to mention was that the charges were dropped because I was arrested while breaking into my stepfather's car at his request while he was on vacation, to retrieve his address book. All charges were dropped as a result of his affidavit stating those facts.

To say that "the whole thing is weird" and imply that there was some connection between the 1987 misunderstanding and the burglary that occurred at the club is tabloid journalism and borderline slander.

Needless to say, Nocturnal will not be wasting any more money advertising in New Times.

Dade Sokoloff, club director



Don't Call Me a F***k!

Free weekly, hammered by clever PR, resorts to name-calling: I thank The Bitch for referring to me in "Samurai Story" (April 14), her column item about jujitsu queen Gazzy Parman's "media saturation" -- even if she did call me that unmentionable word too frequently used when public-relations professionals do their best to create awareness for interesting people and businesses.

Although it was hardly media saturation, I am always one to appreciate coverage. You know what they say: No publicity is bad publicity!

As for the "F" word, I've been called worse -- but the job gets done!

Judith S. Lederman

Scarsdale, New York

Cheap at Twice the Price

When was the last time you bought a ticket to see Brad Paisley? In his preview of Green Day's concert last week at University of Miami ("Green Day," April 14), Abel Folgar said the tickets "are way overpriced." Overpriced at $35? The country "stars" are charging $75, and U2 tickets are going for $160! Well, I bought two sets of Green Day tickets for my daughter and myself. We saw them April 16 in Orlando and can't wait for the show here in Jacksonville April 19.

Both bands were outstanding, and the show included pyrotechnical displays and great lighting -- well worth the $35. That's about half of what most arena shows go for in the other genres.

Maybe Folgar just doesn't like punk. Or maybe he's a Republican.

Lynn Brown


Cocaine Does Not Grow on Trees

Here in Bolivia, of course, everyone already knows that: Thanks to Brett Sokol for a most amusing article on Our Brand Is Crisis, the documentary about ex-Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, and the dark side of darkest South America ("The President and Mr. Blowfly," March 31). There was one inaccuracy, however. He mentioned "a cocaine-farmers union." Cocaine is neither farmed nor harvested. Evo Morales leads the federation of coca growers, known as cocaleros.

Most coca is used as a medicinal herb against everything from headaches to high cholesterol to altitude sickness. It is also used in Andean religious rituals. Yes, some of it goes to make cocaine when mixed with U.S.-produced chemicals in order to supply an insatiable craving up north.

Sanchez de Lozada was forced to resign not by Morales, who now considers himself a statesman and at the time was away on some VIP trip in Europe (he even refers to himself with the royal "we" or in the third person), but by Bolivians who could not stand another death and who grew poorer through the fraudulent and secret deals Sanchez de Lozada made with Enron and others to sell Bolivia's gas reserves.

So as you can see, it ain't that simple. But Sokol's article was definitely spicy!

Marcela Roca

La Paz, Bolivia


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