Letters from the Issue of December 13, 2001

Eduardo Padron: Sometimes the Truth Ain't Pretty
After fifteen years at MDCC, I should know: As a full-time faculty member for fifteen years at the North Campus of Miami-Dade Community College, I can say that Gaspar González's story about MDCC president Eduardo Padron ("Fear and Loathing in la Escuela," December 6) was wonderful and accurate, as were his previous articles.

Thanks for telling it like it is at MDCC.

Mike Andreoli
Miami Springs

Eduardo Padron: Sometimes We Must Be Punished
Yes, he resembles a ruthless dictator, but it's been good for us: As a Miami-Dade Community College student and employee for more than ten years, I feel I'm qualified to offer an opinion differing from the current environment of Padron-bashing. MDCC president Eduardo Padron's management style may be a bit Naziesque, but believe me, we needed it. Under former president Robert McCabe, there was much waste and unaccountability, and some faculty were just plain lazy.

I've taken classes in which teachers would not show up, skip out on their office hours, and cram lessons into fewer days so they could go on vacation early. I even had one whose lecturing style was to read the textbook aloud, word for word, without offering any additional explanation. Naturally she gave multiple-choice tests to minimize her workload. Under the floundering old fool McCabe, I remember perpetual "hiring freezes" and several years without a pay raise. During one of those years, McCabe managed to have his job title changed, along with the campus deans, in order to get more money.

Although I don't agree with many of the things Padron has done, he has streamlined the college and made employment here gainful. Please do not publish my name. I don't want to incur the wrath of "Hoffa's" faculty-union goons.

Name Withheld by Request

Two, Four, Six, Eight, Who Can Best Manipulate?
Miriam, Miriam, gooooooo Miriam! Thanks to Jacob Bernstein for his story "Now Entering Miriamville" (December 6), describing the shocking, disgusting, and shameful circus acts of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Miriam Alonso.

After I finished coaching soccer practice at Belén Jesuit Preparatory School, I was intrigued to stay because of the mob of people I saw arriving around 6:30 p.m., along with several news vans, none of them from the Anglo media. I was told it was a meeting for proposed changes to Sweetwater's boundaries. As I stood by a door located behind the stage, I began to feel as if I were at a school pep rally. Ms. Alonso stood there in obvious support of the jeers and chants denouncing Sweetwater. One of her staff members opened and closed the auditorium door in order for those inside to get even more riled up from the noise of more than 200 people standing outside chanting, "No Sweetwater!" This was also being orchestrated outside by a lady from Alonso's staff, who waved her hands as if she were at a football game trying get the crowd into it. After I witnessed Alonso do nothing as the crowd yelled and screamed at Sweetwater Mayor José Diaz, I decided it was time to leave.

Meetings conducted by the leaders of our community should be formal and professional. Are public meetings (advertised using taxpayer money) supposed to be orchestrated rallies for political gain?

Frankie Ruiz

Top Cop Talks Shop
Yes, we've emerged from the dark ages, but can't we just skip over that part? Let me thank reporter Rebecca Wakefield for recognizing the positive changes occurring at the Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department ("The Pros Have It," November 29). That New Times would chronicle the implementation strategies for a redirected police department is certainly appreciated by all who are making it happen.

This course could not be navigated without the confidence of the school board and the cooperation of district administrators. That department personnel at every level have responded favorably has also been a plus, but I must comment that I believe Ms. Wakefield could have covered all the good without resurrecting past issues. I am currently satisfied and have confidence in the assistant chief, commander, and all my captains.

Any time there is change there will be skeptics. There can be denial, aggressive and passive resistance, a slow realization and then eventually acceptance. Some will be reluctant, and some will wholeheartedly embrace changes. Throughout the past twenty months we have experienced most all of these familiar change-cycle factors. It truly has been an interesting challenge for all school-police personnel but one for which we collectively prepared through regular meetings and workshops. The need to be sensitive to the thinking of the occasional school-police critic has been a priority. Please allow me to elaborate on the most important school-police function, a regular topic of these meetings: the promotion and maintenance of a safe learning environment.

I think we all recognize that in a perfect world there would not be a concern for the security of students, faculty, and staff. Unfortunately reality is brought home with headlines about the kinds of violent acts that are regularly imported into school environments. Today research into school violence is more focused, to the point that the most progressive school districts maintain a police presence in one form or another. In fact there are now more than 14,000 school-resource officers serving school districts throughout the nation. They exist because the infraction of twenty years ago, such as shirttails hanging out, has been supplanted by shirttails covering the occasional weapon.

I would like to address one specific part of Ms. Wakefield's article. She overheard a brief conversation between board member Robert Ingram and me. As most people know, Dr. Ingram had a long and distinguished career in local law enforcement. It was not inappropriate that he would mention someone he knew who had applied to be a school-resource officer. Recommendations are both expected and welcomed. It has been common practice for other police officers to recommend individuals they believe have what it takes to be successful in police work.

As the article noted, I said I would look into the status of the individual. Unfortunately I had to report back to Dr. Ingram that the applicant was rejected. As Dr. Ingram knows from his days as a police chief, simply because someone is recommended doesn't mean the individual can find his or her way through the application and background regimen.

The school district's police department continues to move in the right direction. More than eight million dollars secured from the federal government for community-oriented policing is a testament that we are progressing. The timing of this infusion of money is most important following the events of September 11 and amid the budget reductions from the State of Florida.

As teachers remain busy providing students the education that shapes their minds and character, the school police will be busy "protecting our future."

Pete Cuccaro, chief of police
Miami-Dade County Public Schools


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