Letters from the Issue of December 27, 2001
Editor's note: We greatly appreciate receiving letters from our readers, and we try to publish as many as possible. Predictably, though, some of them fall victim to space limitations or time constraints. In this final issue of the year we will try to make amends. Following is a sampling of correspondence we've been saving in hopes of it someday seeing print. That day has arrived.
Airport Would Draw Blob
But as we now know, ain't no airport: "There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings." -- Chief Seattle, 1854
In response to Jim DeFede's cover story "Collision Course," I live in Miami Beach and my home is under one of Miami International Airport's flight paths. Planes fly over my neighborhood throughout the day. Sometimes the noise is so loud I have to go into a room without windows when I'm talking on the telephone.
If Homestead Air Force Base is redeveloped as a commercial airport, then Biscayne National Park, Miami's wilderness and refuge, will have the same type of airplane noise. In fact the Homestead air base is closer to Biscayne Bay than MIA, so Homestead planes would be even nearer the water when they take off and land. Having a quiet, natural experience on Biscayne Bay would be impossible.
As it drowns out the quiet sounds of nature in two national parks, an airport in Homestead would also spawn great sprawl, because new airport jobs would stimulate residential and commercial development near the airport. The urban blob of Miami would race south. The low-intensity urban and agricultural atmosphere of South Miami-Dade County would disappear.
I am convinced a mixed-use development on the site would be better for Homestead's economy in the long run. It would provide homes and jobs at a pace driven by existing demands for residential and business growth. An airport, on the other hand, would be a huge sellout to land speculators and merchants who stand to gain the most from sprawling urban growth. I hope our leaders have the wisdom to see past the parochial whining for new jobs, mainly drummed up by speculators, merchants, and the myopic politicians who want to curry their favor.
The Capitalist Conundrum
How do you feed the beast when the food runs out? Regarding the push for a commercial airport in Homestead, one need not share the dogmatism of the Socialist Workers Party in order to ask how capitalism, which depends on infinite growth, plans to sustain this growth in a finite environment with limited resources.
As the complaints of the disinherited and dispossessed grow louder, capitalism must inevitably resort to fascism to quiet them and keep the economy expanding.
But as Barry Commoner observed, nature bats last.
Embrace the Nightmare
And while we're at it, let's pray for really, really bad weather: Reno, Reno, Reno! Hasn't Florida been put through enough already? Butterfly ballots, kids from Cuba, midnight fed raids. And now you in the media think having a governor with a name better suited for a hurricane weather warning is a good idea?
Duh! Why not ask for higher tides while you're at it?
via the Internet
Oxymoron of the Year
"Miami quality of life": I just wanted to express my pleasure reading Kirk Nielsen's articles on Miami billboards.
It is amazing the crap people get away with because the community is not paying attention. I hope Kirk can wake people up and also embarrass Miami's city commissioners and other local government officials over issues like this.
The City of Miami is notorious for its lack of commitment to code enforcement. It really shows. The majority of the city is a ghetto, a ghetto in paradise. Residents and government officials do not know the meaning of "quality of life." No parks, overdevelopment, bad zoning, lack of code enforcement. Billboards all over the place is just another step in the wrong direction.
I think the articles Kirk has been writing help in exposing the problems, which can lead to positive results. Keep up the heat!
Give the Crooks a Message
You can't hide behind an ethnic shield: The recent arrest and conviction of former Miami Police Chief Donald Warshaw is bittersweet. Bitter because he used to be one of Miami's most respected public officials, yet after 25 impeccable years of service, he turned out to be a crook. Sweet because justice has been served.
Warshaw's downfall should send a strong warning to all those corrupt individuals in Miami who think getting into public service is a self-serving, get-rich-quick scheme. Public money, taxpayers' money, is off-limits for private use and should be respected accordingly. Anyone who doesn't get the message should be voted out of office, and the criminal-justice system should consider them crooks. Public integrity is an issue that transcends race, ethnicity, seniority, and popularity. Anglo, Cuban American, and African American should all be treated equally under the law, and if they're corrupt, they belong in jail.
When we Miamians finally find the courage to overcome our racial and ethnic barriers and begin showing these corrupt public officials that their complexion will not spare them after committing a crime, believe me, they will get the message. The message is that your race or ethnicity will not get you off the hook, that you will not get away with corruption in Miami.
By the way I am a black Cuban American myself. People like me should be doubly concerned. And I am.
Romano A. López
Grammys: Free Weekly Strangely Silent
Can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e? I was surprised to see that your newspaper did not criticize the Latin Grammys for leaving Miami in the face of protest. I thought New Times was in the vanguard of tolerance for people expressing their opinions. Yet you constantly criticize the Cuban community for your perception of their intolerance of dissenting views.
Apparently you believe the exile community should be tolerant of other peoples' views, but not that others should be tolerant of exiles' views. Cuban musicians from the island should be allowed to come here to express their ideas, and Cuban exiles should be tolerant of that. Fine, I agree. By the same token exiles should be allowed to protest and use the Latin Grammys as a forum to express their views of Cuba. These protests were planned not as mass chaos but as organized and peaceful. The protest area was more than 100 yards away. It would have taken a young Dan Marino with a hurricane wind behind him to throw something and have it land on a Cuban musician at the American Airlines Arena.
Since you focused on criticizing the exile community instead of the Grammys for pulling out of Miami, it seems you're not so concerned with free expression but more concerned with attempting to criticize anything Cuban exiles do, right or wrong. This media attack on the exile community is nothing new. Because Cuban Americans are the most economically and educationally successful Hispanic group, and have even higher economic and educational achievements than mainstream Anglo America, you believe it is okay to attack us with the support of non-Cubans.
At some point that is going to get old, and you'll focus on something else. But the disturbing thing is that young Cubans growing up here, not knowing all the facts, are beginning to believe your nonsense and succumbing to the endless attacks on exiles. I guess the media subscribe to the divide-and-conquer theory.
If you believe Cubans are one-sided in terms of their political views, consider the following:Cubans vote Republican at a rate of 60 to 80 percent
Blacks vote for Democrats at a rate of more than 90 percent
Jews vote for Democrats at a rate of 70 to more than 80 percent
All non-Cuban Hispanics vote for Democrats at a rate of more than 75 percent
Southern Baptists vote Republican at a rate of more than 75 percent
Let's not even get into other one-sided groups, such as trade unions. There are more examples. It seems to me that Cubans are more politically balanced. But I guess New Times is not really interested in the facts.
In terms of protesting, Cuban protests are mild compared to protests that have taken place historically in this grand country. The United States has had a long tradition of violent protests resulting in millions in damages and deaths -- not just by minorities but also by mainstream Americans. But let's not confuse anyone with the facts.
Grammys: Viejos Run Amok
Glowering geezers pose alarming threat: Quick, call the Pentagon! America has a new super fighting force. Better than the Marines. More ferocious than the Navy SEALs. More feared than Delta Force. Who are these terrifying fighting machines? Elderly Cuban protesters!
Yes, the same people who frightened the Clinton administration into paralysis and forced the U.S. government to conduct an Entebbe-style raid to snatch the child and avoid a direct confrontation with them are now striking fear in the hearts of cultural promoters.
All over the county, arts impresarios are living in fear that amphibious landing craft filled with well-trained elderly Cuban protesters might be deployed to stand in front of their recital halls, chanting terrifying slogans and hoisting lethal hand-painted signs. It's enough to make deep-pocketed arts patrons quake.
Maybe our government could use these crack troops in some of the world's troubled hot spots to quell revolutions and repel invasions.
Which naturally led to outgoing: Who can be surprised that the Latin Grammys hauled ass out of town when the word protesters was used. I am sure the Grammy powers that be remembered the debacle at the Miami Arena during a similar event in which concertgoers were pelted with missiles.
And who could forget the traffic blockades our leaders did nothing to stop, and the Elian riot (yes, riot) that served to let the rest of the country know the citizens of Miami-Dade County seem to be an intolerant and fractious bunch of loonies.
Unless the Cuban population learns that we all have the same rights, this town will continue to be a Republic of Banana.
Grammys: Miami Isn't Ready for Prime Time
So sayeth the prophet Ohanian: A great deal of work, money, and prestige was invested by countless individuals and organizations to bring the Latin Grammys to Miami. Now the announcement has been made to pull the plug on the event. Who can blame them? Who wants to host or attend a celebration in such an angry neighborhood? There are lots of other places to have a party where you can be a lot more appreciated and enjoy the moment without having to run a gauntlet of hatred. Los Angeles is such a place. Unfortunately Miami is not.
I understood that it was very unlikely any Cuban musicians would be invited to perform at this event. I also read that Castro had declined to allow any musicians to attend if they were invited. It was unavoidable that angry crowds in Miami would plan to make a big ugly protest either way. I heard Debbie Ohanian recommend that the Latin Grammys move out of Miami. She is indeed a prophet. Miami was not ready for her Los Van Van concert last year. At that event more than 3000 out-of-control protesters demonstrated their true colors to the point of civil disobedience.
This town is the unofficial capital of Latin music, culture, and finance. But this town is not yet ready for the Latin Grammys. This town does not deserve the Latin Grammys. This town does not even deserve people like Debbie Ohanian, people who care about freedom. After 40-plus years, there is still too much anger and polarity here to take a middle ground and celebrate some of our greatest accomplishments.
Will our citizens be less angry and more tolerant of others after the tyrant Castro finally dies? We can only pray they will. But don't count on it.
Harry Emilio Gottlieb
South Beach Manifesto: At Last a Lesson Learned
We made it party hearty all over again: My hat goes off to Miami Beach city officials, the Miami Beach police, the city's goodwill ambassadors, the Miami Beach Fire Department, the Fruit of Islam, and most of all to our hip-hop visitors for a job well done.
I don't think we were overprepared. I think we were well prepared and justified in being so. This shows we quickly rebounded from Memorial Day weekend and we learned a valuable lesson. This lesson gives us the opportunity to open our city to all who want to party or throw a party and feel comfortable about it. We have now grown and earned the title as number-one party mecca in the world.
Maybe the Source magazine can take some suggestions from us next time they come. Then they too can be successful.
South Beach Manifesto: Beware Buckhead
Lucre? We don't need no stinking lucre: Still fresh in our minds are those hip-hoppers who came to Miami Beach -- white, Latin, mostly black -- and raised hell in our lovely town over Memorial Day weekend. We must ask ourselves what we want the Beach to do.
First, I recommend that Miami Beach stop prostituting itself to every stinking event that waves some green in its face. Second, that the club owners, promoters, and everyone else accept the fact that the Beach is just not as popular as it once was. Don't get me wrong. We are still a force abroad. I was in Europe not long ago, and people's eyes lit up when I said I was from Miami.
But face it, things get old, stale, and tired. People are going to go to other places. So what if we no longer have a trendy new club opening every week? So what if no new fashion designer buys a mansion on Ocean Drive? So what? These people will come back eventually. They will look for a place to spend their money and we'll be ready for them.
Let's give it a rest for a while. Let's recharge our batteries. And let's learn the lesson of a formerly trendy spot called Buckhead, in Atlanta. Buckhead was cool streets, pretty neighborhood, phat clubs. Then slowly and painfully the Puffys and the g-boyz started turning the area into a real-life hip-hop video -- violent, low-class, dangerous, and dirty. I used to go there every other month. Now I'm disgusted by it.
Why did the Beach on Memorial Day weekend get so full and so out of control? The Buckheaders arrived, that's why! They finished destroying what's up there and now they've set their sights on us. Now is the time, people, to sound the alarm. When the Europeans and the rich Latins who used to come here call their friends on their cell phones and tell them what a piece of shit Miami has become, they will never return. Ever!
I am not racist. I have nothing in my heart but love for the whole human race, so don't make this a race letter. I just want to see Miami and the Beach succeed and thrive like it should. This is our paradise, and we should protect it. So next time, fewer party people and more police.
Admirably Tenacious if a Bit Shrill
But free weekly savaged for exclusionary intern program: I was all set to write you a congratulatory letter for another fine piece, in this case the article about Daily Business Review editor Edward Wasserman, "The Last Iconoclast." As with recent articles on Alex Penelas, New Times asks the difficult questions and pulls no punches. It is for this reason I read the paper, even when I find myself in disagreement with it, and why I no longer bother with the useless Herald. You practice truly progressive journalism; they don't even try. Sometimes you're a bit shrill and over the top, but that can be a useful counterpoint to the familiar "everything is basically fine here in paradise" approach.
Unfortunately, while scanning the letters section for your e-mail address or URL, I came across the inset titled "Meanwhile, at miaminewtimes.com" that contained the following text: "Want to write for New Times? Now's your chance! New Times offers qualified African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American college students an adventure in definitive journalism."
That made me immediately wonder: Why are only members of these groups "qualified"? As a recently emigrated Californian, and as a former teacher in that state's university system, I noted immediately that you forgot to include Pacific Islanders along with Asians, but perhaps that was implied or is too small a category to worry about on this coast. You also left out "mixed race" (soon to be the largest census category, I suspect), which left me wondering what combinations, if any, might qualify, and in what proportions. But perhaps mixtures were impliedly welcome as well. I'm fairly sure it wasn't implied that "whites" of any origin were welcome. You didn't just forget to put that on your list. So too bad for anyone of that race or ethnic origin, regardless of their life circumstances or history. Or for anyone else who might fall through the cracks of your categorizations.
As a four-square liberal, I support affirmative action for those who have been disadvantaged. I am no disciple of Ward Connerly. But gosh, how about just aiming to recruit college students who are "qualified" as writers? (Based on my experience at Berkeley and other universities, this will rule out quite a few candidates.) And if you're looking to level the social playing field -- a praiseworthy goal -- why not aim for those who have overcome obstacles in their individual lives, regardless of racial or ethnic categorization, gender, sexual orientation, or religious persuasion? That would be a truly progressive stance -- in my humble opinion, anyway.
The Case for a New Kind of Segregation
The group that spends together prospers together: Kudos to Tyrone D. Kenon for his letter pointing out that opportunists are taking advantage of poor black people and keeping them from achieving success. I felt compelled to write, however, because even he evidently misses a very important point.
The total wealth of African Americans is roughly the same as that of California. The difference is that what gets earned in California gets spent there, while African Americans, in what can only be described as a colonial mentality, turn around and spend their money outside their ethnic group. What is needed is a mindset of voluntary economic segregation within the group. Let me explain what I mean.
Note I used the word voluntary, not forced. Everyone is happy that African Americans are no longer compelled to live only in certain neighborhoods, that they are no longer barred from most schools, that opportunities are roughly equal in the armed services, and that in general they can marry into other races. Individual African Americans should take full advantage of all those hard-won rights, including accepting payroll checks from white employers.
But then comes time to spend the money. Now, race is not a matter of concern if you're looking for the best brain surgeon available. But no more of that "Korean stores came into the neighborhood and took it over." Who, pray tell, are the customers? Go back to the black barber, the black plumber, the black grocer, or at least the Winn-Dixie with the black management. Hanging together, which currently ain't happening, would strengthen African-American businesses. More important, however, it would lead the greater society to expect a ripple effect as individual members get help in education and so forth.
The Disgusting Demetrios
What a difference some bad publicity and a federal indictment can make: Kudos to D. Porpoise Evans for his letter regarding Demetrio J. Perez's disgusting attempt to join the Miami-Dade County School Board. We must save some of our anger for his father, Demetrio Perez, Jr., recognizing him as the unindicted co-conspirator in this shameful episode. Without his encouragement and support, young Demetrio would never have concocted this scheme and nearly pulled it off.
Throughout the whole debacle no one ever asked what young Perez listed as his residence on his records at the University of Miami's law school. I'm fairly sure it wasn't an orchard in the Redland.
Let's save a little venom for the other school board members who seemed to go along with the whole affair. Why don't they have some rules about nepotism and brazen collusion among their members? Perhaps it's because they would be forced to sacrifice their own scams on the altar of good government, fire some of the incompetent administrators who earn three times as much as teachers, and start putting some real control on construction costs of new schools.
If Demetrio J. Perez really didn't know what he was trying to do was illegal, then he's certainly not mentally or morally fit to be a lawyer, and his father is not fit to sit on the school board.
John E. Brown
Let Me Praise Your Courage
I'm sure it's scary to swim against the tide: That gang of letter-writers who blasted Susan Eastman for her critique of the flag-waving media missed something: It took guts to write that piece. Between September 12 and October 4, I surveyed 30 U.S. newspapers on a regular basis. Eastman is absolutely alone in pointing out the gelatinous mob-think in the press.
And if readers need a reference point for Eastman, try the weeks following the Kennedy assassination. The handful of reporters who challenged the conventional wisdom of the so-called experts were promptly canned. These are the same experts who are now assuring us everything is going to be all right. Well, let a poet named Yeats have the final say. On the eve of World War I he wrote, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity."
Is there anyone out there who believes September 11 is an isolated "terrorist" act and unconnected to a whole string of wars dating back to 1914?
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