Letters - Part I

We read with great interest Mr. Baker's article, "For Goodness: Snakes," published in your August 21 edition. Mr. Baker briefly mentioned that some species and areas of "the Everglades" are closed to collection by law. The National Park Service and Big Cypress National Preserve have a huge problem with theft of natural resources from the public lands we are charged with preserving.

While some collecting of these resources is by tourists who desire a pretty plant or flower, a far greater impact is made by those who acquire nature for commercial gain. Misdemeanor fines for simple collection or possession of protected resources can range up to $500 and/or six months in jail.

The National Park Service is committed to the preservation of the native habitat of South Florida and all species contained therein. Preservation of these unique ecosystems will insure the survival of the species with a greater degree of certainty than the collection and preservation of these species in someone's living room.

We hope that you will inform your readers of the serious nature of collecting any protected fish, wildlife, or plant from the state or federal lands. Beyond this, we hope you will help us educate the public that the best alternative for any species, including our own, is the preservation of native habitat.

William J. Carroll, acting superintendent
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service

In reference to Carlos Mendez's letter (August 7) criticizing Greg Baker's review of the 2 Live Crew, I'd like to point out a typical inconsistency often stated by censors: "Don't get me wrong - I strongly believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and I'm not trying to censor Mr. [Mendez's] opinion. But we've got to draw the line somewhere," preferably on Mr. Mendez's flawed ideas so he can get on with life after New Times.

Robert A. Boyte
Miami Beach

I think I've read one too many Sue Mullin restaurant reviews. Sure, I can grit my teeth and suffer through grating sophomoric puns. And maybe gloss over breathless prose galloping from the keyboard at breakneck speed. And even resign myself to an abuse of literary license which pummels us week after week with inane remarks about a fictional boor who goes by the devilishly original tag of "my dining companion."

But annoying as these stylistic deficiencies may be, what I find truly intolerable - in a politically correct restaurant reviewer - is plugging a restaurant, Cafe Cazando ("Surfin' Safari," August 7), that specializes in alligator, buffalo, elk, and mallard (a wild duck). Ms. Mullin has done a wonderful job of forwarding the cause of all those who oppose ecological, zoological, and human rights.

It's a pity that while Sue was playing war correspondent in Central America a few years back, she never took the opportunity to witness the shame and squalor of the many Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans who have never graced a Coral Gables dining establishment, and much less, gorged on "Costa Rican-style" quail in the company of reckless yuppies. I also bet that she has never been to the Dakotas to experience the "wild and woolly adventure" of a real stampede of buffalo. But then, why bother if you can have it fried or grilled on a plate with a "healthy portion of chestnut puree"?

I wonder what future columns have in store for us. How about an Albanian diner serving baby seal teriyaki with a garnish of rice pilaf? Or maybe her dining companion prefers a small bistro where Ethiopian gazelle is cooked to perfection by Haitian cooks recently washed ashore on Key Biscayne. No - much too much. Basta!

Francisco Garcia

This letter comes out of complete frustration. I have never written this kind of letter before, but I must tell you about my frustrations with your restaurant reviewer. My companion and I have wasted a lot of time and a ton of money and have experienced such disappointments and letdowns whenever we have followed the recommendations of your restaurant reviewer, Sue Mullin. Actually, that's putting it mildly. "Gag me" is more like it. Her reviews are ludicrous.

I have checked my perceptions with my dining companion, and he is in full agreement with me. Still, thinking that maybe both of us are weird or different, I began checking my perceptions with friends. It's unanimous: she's off the wall. She is completely inaccurate in the "feeling" she creates about the restaurant and in her judgment about the quality of the food, the taste of the food, and the authenticity of the food. Are these restaurants paying her to write the reviews? I am truly puzzled.

My companion and I most recently ventured to Kiko's Mexican/Cuban restaurant ("The Joy of Mex," June 26) on NE 167th Street in North Miami Beach. It boasts of fresh salsa. They cut up some fresh vegetables, but the result is a salsa that tastes of chemicals, preservatives, and metal. It's terrible. The waiter insisted it was made from scratch - except for the tomato base. Would Sue Mullin notice the bad taste? Would she ever figure it out? I don't think her inquiring mind cares to know. Furthermore, the restaurant's "Mexican" sauce is homemade, but its recipe must be for marinara sauce! The Mexican steak we had was tough and chewy and not well done, and the rice was dry and hard.

You need someone who knows food and who is inquisitive enough to find out what's truth and what's not, and to do some research. I do not claim to be a gourmet - somewhere between a gourmand and gourmet - but I do know your reviewer has no taste.

Wendy Gladstone
North Miami

I was very pleased with your article "Get Out of Jail Free" (July 10). You see, I am a bail bondswoman and have been for the last six years. Although my profession is looked down upon by the general public, I, as well as other bail bondsmen, do the general public a world of good, and they do not even realize it!

There are many differences between pretrial-release programs and bail bondsmen. The obvious one is that PTR releases defendants at no cost to them but at a very high price to every taxpayer. Bondsmen are paid ten percent by the defendant to get out of jail; no cost there to the taxpayer. PTR programs release defendants without their having to put up any guarantee that they will appear in court. Bondsmen take collateral in most cases to guarantee the defendant's appearance in court. If a defendant out on PTR fails to appear in court, it costs him nothing. Chances are he will be rearrested on new charges and released again by PTR. Again at no cost to him but a high cost to taxpayers, who pay for the backlog in our criminal system.

On the other hand, if a defendant out on bail with a bondsman fails to appear in court, the bondsman is obligated to find the defendant and bring him back to jail or the bondsman will have to pay the full amount of the bond. The bondsman pays, not the taxpayer!

The scariest and most dangerous difference between PTR and bondsmen is that PTR runs no background checks on the defendants before they are released. All they do is fill out a form. Give me a break. Most criminals out there will give up their mothers to get out of jail free. What makes anyone think they will not lie or give fake names? PTR could release Charles Manson for all they know. On the other hand, when a bondsman posts bail, the defendant must have valid ID or have to wait four hours for a fingerprint run. Defendants lie; fingerprints do not.

Taxpayers must do something about this, and soon. Let's not let them get away with that pitiful and poor excuse: "We have to release criminals back onto the streets because our jails are too full." I say, let's take the millions of dollars it costs to run these "get out of jail free" programs and build bigger jails. Pretty simple logic, isn't it?

Jackie Indacochea

Upon reading "Get Out of Jail Free" I didn't know whether to write and thank you for enlightening this stupid taxpayer or write to every country in the world to tell them not to let their citizens visit the U.S. I couldn't believe it was possible that our tax dollars could go to something that makes our lives unsafe.

It seems that civil-rights groups have gotten their way. They got better food for prisoners, private and semiprivate quarters, TVs, judges to get mad at overcrowded conditions, and now quick release - free and even quicker than the computers can search up a criminal's record (as if it would do any good). It makes one glad to be a taxpayer.

Al Shapp
North Miami Beach


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