He put a bug in our ear: Regarding Our Woman in Havana's story, "Press Time" (January 11): In her previous article about waiting for Fidel to go, she wrote about how cell phones, and indeed even regular phones, were impossible for regular Cuban citizens to get. That being the case, two things stand out in my mind:
1. How is it that Carlos Rios, after losing his cushy job years ago for advocating change, has a phone?
2. If the regime in Cuba is so likely to crack down on Cubans who criticize the government, how is Carlos able to call Miami without Fidel and Raul Castro knowing about it? I'd think that any call from Cuba to the United States would be flagged by the Cuban government, especially coming from a phone belonging to a "dangerous dissident" like Carlos.
Don't (tennis) can Maharaj: I read Emily Witt's story, "Busted Rackets" (January 11). I grew up playing tennis in Hialeah with the Maharaj family Gewan, Vishnu, and Sewsanker. They all played at Miami-Dade Community College, North Campus. I believe there should be some kind of reconciliation between the county's park and recreation department and Vishnu.
Tennis is a unique type of recreation, and its facilities require a different managerial approach. Racket-stringing is a much-needed service. Teaching pros, in general, do a pretty good job of stringing rackets.
Let's correct what needs to be corrected regarding racket-stringing and administrative policy. In the future, let's put all money into the cash register. This is the right policy. There is no need to dismiss anyone here. Vishnu is good for the Crandon Park Tennis Center. We need him to continue at that very fine facility.
How do you say "scum" in Argentine Spanish?: Thank you for printing a very-close-to-reality story about what's going on in Cuba, "Waiting for Him to Go" (January 4). People on the outside have been sheltered too long from the truth (not a biased truth, but reality), and much has been hidden from the outside world: the true nature of socialism, communism, and "Fidelism." One thing that is tragic and disgusting is how Che Guevara's image is seen on shirts and other items. Che was also part of that murderous clan back in the revolution's first years. Owing to the perverted glorification of his image and consequential coverup of his deeds, and later the twisting of the circumstances of his death, Fidel has milked the Che martyrdom story to its fullest (along with help from all-too-willing journalists and reporters who never bothered to really study his record). I commend you.
He's a lone wolf: I read with much interest Rob Jordan's article about Shawn Beightol, "The Missionary" (January 4). New Times really covers stuff of immense public value that other media the Miami Herald, WLRN (91.3 FM) totally ignore.
I am a Miami-Dade teacher who first came across Shawn some thirteen years ago when his interest in high-quality science teaching was clear. I, too, teach science and am very aware of the unfortunate need we have to fight daily for our professional status.
Shawn is a maverick, firebrand, et cetera. Unfortunately I have to agree with his more critical colleagues, who maintain that many of his efforts have tended to polarize the situation and undermine the momentum that the United Teachers of Dade has been gradually building over many months.
It is hardly surprising that Karen Aronowitz, our president, "could not be reached for comment." But she is another admirable subject for a New Times article. She has made it quite clear to all of us that the struggle is far from over.
The point is, the considerable gains we made recently with a three-year contractual agreement could have been achieved only with at least a modicum of unity among teachers. Given the disparate nature of our backgrounds, cultures, aspirations, commitment, and, frankly, competence, it was a remarkable achievement. And this was possible only with team effort.
Shawn has not subscribed to this notion. He could have been an excellent part of this team but always insisted on grandstanding. I would love to see other articles of this nature. South Florida's largest employer should be receiving considerably more media coverage than it does.
Few teachers have the time or wherewithal to learn what is going on outside their classrooms. Thank you for the article, the interest, and the effort. I hope our local school system continues to be a focus for New Times because it is far more important for the future of South Florida than many people living here realize.
Bernie Roy, science teacher
Arvida Middle School
Farms: In Francisco Alvarado's article "Wicked" (December 14), the reference to Dade County Farm Bureau was nothing more than a repugnant attempt to influence voters with sensationalism and downright lies.
Mr. Alvarado inaccurately referred to our membership organization as a "3500-member group of South Dade land owners who, among other things, advocate for opening agricultural land for development."
This statement is a slap in the face, not only to Farm Bureau but also to every single person who makes his or her livelihood in agriculture. Since 1942, no other grower-led organization has worked harder to protect farmland by keeping growers profitable.
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Furthermore, Mr. Alvarado knowingly printed erroneous information when he said county Commissioner Natacha Seijas gave Farm Bureau $10,000. Again, this statement is false, and I corrected Mr. Alvarado in a phone interview prior to publication.
The credibility of both your publication and its journalists is nonexistent. How dare you question the integrity of those in the public spotlight when you can't even live up to your own?
Katie A. Edwards
Dade County Farm Bureau
Francisco Alvarado responds: The $10,000 figure came from an August 2006 newsletter that Commissioner Seijas sent to voters in her district.