Letters from the Issue of November 4-10, 2004
And don't worry, we'll take care of any "problems": Thanks to Kirk Nielsen for covering one problem with the absentee balloting in his article "Absentee Minded" (October 28). Here's what you would find had you used your absentee ballot. In the instructions for marking your ballot it states, "If you make a mistake or change your mind, cross through the mistake and fill in the oval next to your correct choice." I can only wonder how many of my choices will be "corrected" before my vote is counted.
In previous elections we would find absentee-ballot envelopes where the signature of the witness and the voter were the same handwriting. Now there is no witness signature, eliminating that problem/safeguard. I hand-carried my ballot to election headquarters to avoid the mails. The elections clerk did not require or want to see my ID or check my signature. No accountability.
I put my ballot in the locked box, wondering who might have the key and whether they might want to make "corrections" for me.
Commercialize, ignore fringe listeners, and hope no one notices: Great article by The Bitch regarding WLRN-FM ("Dead Air," October 21). Anything attacking the Dark Side of public radio in this town scores kudos with me. WLRN's plan is no secret in public-radio circles; we've been hearing the same mantra of "less music, more talk" since LaBonehead [radio and TV manager John LaBonia] took over. It's all due to a cleverly written report put out by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting titled "Audience 98." In it researcher David Giovannoni (a.k.a. Dr. Joe Baloney) and his cronies swoon over the possibilities of increasing member contributions by eliminating jazz, classical, and the arts and focusing on core NPR programs and local bunk produced to sound just like it.
How does this differ from commercial radio stations in their quest for a bigger share of the radio audience and higher spot fees? Zip! Different source of revenue via the same means and methods. Disenfranchised listeners are kicked in the ass. Is there a problem with this, given the big picture? Perhaps not. What irks me is the stealthy measures under which this transition is taking place at stations like WLRN.
There is a truly public radio station in town: WDNA-FM (88.9 "Serious Jazz"). It's been active in South Florida since 1977. There you'll find jazz, Latin, world music, and weekend community programming. Plus news from the BBC, local voices (most of them volunteers), and a studio request line that -- get this -- someone actually answers! We record and produce high school jazz yearly. When we have guests from the arts community in studio, you know they didn't have to pay us off for it (unlike the soon-to-be-dead WKAT). We're a modest operation but growing every year. We're the first public station in South Florida to adopt HD Radio. And we don't have a sugar daddy like the school board from which to siphon funds. If anyone on the dial is a mom-and-pop operation, it's us. (I can't believe Peter Jay, that lisping sycophant, had the brass cojones to use that line!)
I do hope The Bitch will tune us in sometime (or online at www.wdna.org) and help spread the word about this little radio oasis in Miami -- before satellite/Internet radio destroys all of us, WLRN included. And by the way, these are my views alone, not those of WDNA-FM, its staff, management, volunteers, or underwriters.
Joe Cassara, operations manager
If it's down, kill it: FIU professor Ted Baker's letter regarding the City of Miami Beach's parks department ("I Think That I Shall Never See," October 28) was informative but far too polite. I was shocked to hear that the city's parks department considers the fate of an old banyan tree (which has been rewarding Flamingo Park visitors for more years than any of the department staff has been around) a commodity that doesn't deserve a fighting chance.
I'd like to know what considerations were taken into account in making the fateful decision to kill this gorgeous, towering natural beauty. After all, simply tilting it back up after it was toppled by hurricane winds and giving it a chance to live wouldn't have cost much -- certainly not compared to the value it has provided for so long. I wonder if the decision-makers would have a change of heart if the prognosis for their own lives were "50/50," as they calculated the odds for the banyan.
There should be policies in place to save these majestic, historic trees. The Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department, however, seems hell-bent on invading Flamingo Park territory to make more room for staff parking. Tear down the chain-link fence that obstructs the remaining banyans and make staff park their personal vehicles in the large lots to the north or south of the park. Better yet, form car pools, bike, or walk to work.
Carlos Arias can hustle with the best of them: After reading "Resident Ego" by Humberto Guida (October 21) and as an acquaintance of Carlos Arias, I can confirm the view that Donald Trump, P. Diddy, and Carlos Arias aren't in the same ballpark -- not even close. The former are worldwide über-celebrities. Mr. Arias is young, quintessentially Latino, and relatively unknown outside Key Biscayne and South Beach. Yeah, he may seem to be a big fish, but the pond is very small.
Nonetheless his attitude reflects the confidence of a tycoon and the arrogance of a typical Hollywood player, as indicated by the fact that he lacked the trademark rights to Miss University until recently yet still shopped around the idea. That shows earnest ambition and some serious guts. Ambition and grit, coupled with good connections and a pretty front man, are a winning ticket in the entertainment industry.
Mr. Arias's remark "They didn't want to beat on a brat who's on his way up" says a lot about him. People may consider him bratty, but the truth is he is confident, creative, and capable. He has sacrificed a tremendous amount for Miss University and his eyes remain fixed on making it big.
It's great to see a young man, a product of Miami, in the ring with the big Hollywood hustlers. If he can keep the creative juices flowing and his supporters in his corner, we should be seeing and hearing a lot more from Mr. Arias.
Especially when George W. Bush is the friend: It is obvious from billionaire Richard J. Egan's letter of protest ("So I Said to Donna Shalala...," October 14) that he was sent on a spy mission by George Bush to the University of Miami presidential debate. In frustration he returned to Boca Raton and raised another few million dollars for his friend.
As a rich GOP donor and a purported Irish American, he was appointed ambassador to Ireland (2001-2003). Inexperienced in the nuances of the Northern Ireland political negotiations, he became very, very bored and called the parties "dysfunctional" and the Irish people anti-American. He came home and Bush has not named a replacement.
Recently Irish America, an American publication, interviewed both presidential candidates on their future policy for Northern Ireland. The more knowledgeable Kerry came out ahead of Bush. Unhappy, Egan then threateningly warned the publisher of the magazine that she should not oppose Bush.
Egan's son (a Republican) has ambitions to replace Kerry in the U.S. Senate in the event Bush is defeated November 2. Also the Egan family has donated to the Ralph Nader campaign. So who is calling the kettle black?
Marie Tierney Smith
Owing to an editing error, the title of a song on Molotov's album Dance and Dense Denso was incorrectly translated in Javier Andrade's review of the band's latest album, Con Todo Respeto (October 28). The song "Frijolero" should have been translated as "Beaner." New Times regrets the error.
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