Letters from the Issue of August 9, 2007
Time for Rudy to go: I applaud your article about Miami-Dade schools superintendent Rudy Crew ("Bad Apple," by Francisco Alvarado, August 2). It underscores just what a belligerent despot this man truly is. Only in Miami-Dade County do people get rewarded for mediocrity and incompetence. We — the taxpayers — have been subjected to this for such a long time we wouldn't expect anything less. Leave it to the local politicos to hire someone with such a dismal track record. It appears as though Marta Perez is the only one on the school board with an iota of common sense. Unfortunately in this case it's the children who must pay the heavy price.
One can only hope that some unsuspecting fool in a faraway city does indeed offer Mr. Crew a zillion dollars to lure him away from here. Perhaps he will take all of his apologists with him. I would pack them some salami sandwiches and even drive them to the airport. Good riddance!
Guillermo A. Rodriguez
Enough is enough: Thank you for writing the truth about Dade County's overpaid and ineffective schools superintendent, Rudy Crew. While the Herald continues to spin the truth to cover the mismanagement, waste, and poor leadership of Crew's administration, our children are being robbed of a real education, and taxpayers are being robbed of their tax dollars. At some point, board members who voted for Crew's bonus will have to start looking out for their students' best interests instead of those of Crew. We have poured enough money and resources into this sham of a superintendent. It's time for him to go! Too bad Washington, D.C., didn't take him off of our hands.
Could anyone do this job?: Regarding "Bad Apple": Your extensively researched article made me ponder a much broader question. While we cheer the efforts of Carlos Alvarez to dismiss, for the first time, public-sector employees whose tenures appeared to be lifelong, we somehow are using a different barometer with Rudy Crew. We vest executives with awesome powers and responsibilities and at the same time limit their ability to perform. I am not an apologist for Mr. Crew. The most troubling aspect, to me, of your reporting was the nonindependence of the inspector general, one that the board affirmed by its vote. Fortunately we live in a nation of laws, and if any of the dismissed employees were terminated unlawfully or had their rights violated, the court is the proper forum for redress. The ultimate responsibility for failing schools rests with the superintendent, but somehow the contributions of teachers and parents are never examined. I firmly believe that our teachers are grossly underpaid and underappreciated, but solutions are never as simplistic as we might wish. I suspect Jack Welch, of GE fame, would not survive as head of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Miami's Screwed, All Right
Especially the middle class: In "Miami: Screwed Again" (July 26), Tamara Lush confirms what I have grown to believe after many years in Miami. This city is run for the people who run it; the taxpayers are here to fund their projects for their friends, their unaccountable jobs, their lavish benefits (unavailable in the private sector). Those of us who resisted some of the development that has taken place over the past three or four years were told it would be great for tax revenues. Now that tax revenues have tripled, Miami seems to have an army of sometimes incoherent and incompetent bureaucrats whose salaries have doubled while the rest of us have run through our savings to pay tax and insurance increases. I can't think of anything that has improved, and just try collecting on that insurance.
That said, my experience as an urbanite suggests that this city will quickly become a place for rich and poor, and that these self-serving politicians might want to think twice about sinking their own gravy boat; the taxpaying middle class is quickly leaving. The schools are a joke — nobody wants to send their kids to them — there's no public transportation, all the development has crowded the roads, and the existing parking is, of course, all metered so the city can stuff its pockets further. The real estate market is flooded not only with people hoping to sell and get out, but also with low-income housing. Nobody is buying these small buildings because the taxes make it impossible to profit from them. The South Bronx became New York's worst slum because of bad policy; the owners abandoned the buildings they couldn't afford to operate or sell.
Most cities and regions try to attract businesses and their middle-class proprietors. Miami is a hostile place for business and the middle class. I believe the city will pay a high price for this policy down the road.
It attracts the poor and uneducated and repels the kind of people who might generate jobs for these people. It also attracts the big developers who can manipulate politicians to create projects like the Carnival Center (which cost 400 percent more than it was supposed to), or the AmericanAirlines Arena, which flies in the face of the fundamental tenets of urbanism and even its own stated goals of "bringing people downtown."
Over the past 15 years, I've fixed up eight properties in once-dodgy neighborhoods on the Beach and in the Biscayne corridor. The money I've made, intended to be a retirement fund, is all gone now to taxes and insurance. I know that the politicians don't care about me and that they don't appreciate what I and many others like me have done to improve Miami. And I don't think they particularly care that we're all leaving, either.
I end up feeling that the City of Miami isn't my ally, it's my adversary. And when I read about the phony tax reduction proposal, I feel disgusted and ripped off.
Via Web commentary
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