Taking a Toll
By telling jokes: As one journalist writing to another, I have this to say about Calvin Godfrey's August 23 story, "For Whom the Hell Tolls": Good show, chap! Excellent story. Ambitious, creative, and hard-hitting. (Well, two out of three ain't bad.) Your story stirred in me the desire to butter myself up in, well, butter, and strip down to my tighty-whities to visit every tollbooth in the county. I, too, know the doldrums of the daunted "slow day" at a weekly and can only aspire to write such a magnum opus of pure initiative. For your followup, you might want to try this to get a rise out of the stoic tollbooth operators of South Florida — it's worked for me: Drive up and ask for directions to some destination that is diametrically opposed to wherever you are, in fact, headed; e.g., get on the turnpike going north and ask the operator how much farther to Key West. Although chickens and fish heads might not make them bat an eyelash, the prospect of a directionally challenged driver practically makes them jump out of those silly Hawaiian-style shirts they wear. Go figure.
Sebastian del Marmol
Venetian Causeway tollbooth
Via Web commentary
They wouldn't know an ethic if it hit 'em upside the head: If you are waiting for the ethics commission to do anything about the e-mail correspondence mentioned in Francisco Alvarado's August 23 article, "Dade Disclosure," you are sorely mistaken.
Sources within county government state this "investigation" has been ongoing for months, and that investigators have not even confiscated their computers to review the possible retrieval of deleted e-mails.
The ethics commission is a waste of time and should be abolished to save taxpayer dollars. Because of turf battles, this should have been given to the true investigators, the Inspector General's office.
A prediction: The ethics commission will come back with a finding that there was a perceived conflict of interest and that the use of taxpayer dollars to give Benigna's lover a job and all of those raises will make everybody unhappy. In the future we should guard against this perception by not doing it again.
What a joke.
Free weekly is clueless: I'm sure you found it cute, clever, whatever, or maybe it's all a joke to you, but one would think you'd have a clue that a "Happy Birthday, Fidel!" cover, however tongue-in-cheek, would be offensive to a significant number of people in South Florida. They may or may not read New Times, but they're very likely to see the cover all over town.
This is not about you being pro-Castro or anything of the sort; it's about you being insensitive, tactless, and trivializing something that many people in this area take as seriously as having cancer (which is what Castro was, Cuba's cancer). I realize that being compared to incredible pseudostud Hugh Hefner is hardly complimentary, but like I said, that's not the issue. The issue is that a cheap stunt to get attention is still a cheap stunt.
I don't really expect you to give a shit, especially if you get the result you wanted, but honestly, is this the best you can do to move your product?
Two Opinions on Bad Care
Look into something else: Regarding Tamara Lush's August 16 story, "117 Dead": It seems to me, being a prudent man, that we have much more to worry about in this city than criminals dying in jail. What about the children dying of starvation every day? Or the corruption in our city and county governments? These are things that affect each of us. Corruption is so rampant in Miami-Dade County it seems reporters could make a name for themselves investigating that. Maybe look into county commissioners getting rich from kickbacks from lobbyists. Check their bank accounts before and after becoming commissioners. Or their lavish lifestyles. On a commissioner's pay? How poetic.
Via Web commentary
What happened to the cash?: We loudly applaud the realities this article brings to the surface. We are not especially informed on the conditions of Miami-Dade jails, but it seems the disturbing factual accounts of inhumanity highlighted speak for themselves. Jail is not a death sentence. The reasons they are in jail should be completely independent of the health care they receive while there. We think the article should stress this point.
The cop-out offered by some of the officials responsible — that the conditions in jail are better than those on the streets and that there's better health care — sets a horrifying standard. Not only is the argument inhumane, but also certain cases detailed in the article show that many inmates' health problems worsened significantly — or developed — because of jail conditions.
Finally, although the argument that funding is inadequate may be true, one of the most startling facts "117 Dead" reveals is the drop in full-time employees between 2003 and 2006 despite a constant budget of $24 million. Where is this money going?
Claire and Francesca Contreras
Via Web commentary
You don't know Rudy: Francisco Alvarado's August 9 piece about Rudy Crew, "Bad Apple," is just bad journalism. The tone of the article is sub-scandal sheet quality, and it was clearly slanted to undermine the credibility of Rudy Crew.
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I know Dr. Crew from his tenure as chancellor in New York City, at which time I served as vice president of the local teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers, a strong, educationally oriented union with a membership of more than 100,000. Yes, Rudy is strong, bold, and risk-taking. More important, he cares passionately about all children, does what needs to be done even if it's unpopular, and is always courageous when he has to take on tough issues. Nothing was tougher than his first venture of closing and redesigning the system's failing schools. Although we differed on certain issues and locked horns on some, it was always in a professional, adult manner. If some of the incidents you cite in your article are accurate, which I doubt, I'm sure the people involved were suspect or had hidden agendas — just as I question the motivation of your paper to write a story like that.
David B. Sherman
Brooklyn, New York