The Human Quilt That Is Miami Beach

Letters to the Editor

Hizzoner promises 100 percent discrimination-free: As mayor of Miami Beach, I would like to comment on Brett Sokol's "Kulchur" column regarding efforts to repeal the county's gay anti-discrimination ordinance ("What a Difference a Bay Makes," January 17). First let me reiterate the fact that our city thrives on its diversity. As you may be aware, Miami Beach was one of the first cities to pass a human-rights ordinance as well as a domestic-partner ordinance for our city employees. We have always been at the forefront of gay-and-lesbian-rights advocacy in the nation.

A large number of people from different ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds live in our city in a harmonious manner. In fact the success of our city is legendary. Over the years it has become obvious that our diversity has become our unity and strength. Discrimination is not what true diversity is about. It is for this reason that the City of Miami Beach will not turn its back on its evolution as a community.

Our city is committed to being discrimination-free and preserving an environment of tolerance.

David Dermer, mayor
Miami Beach

Chowderhead's Lament

Bidding farewell to Kendall wasn't as easy as you'd expect: I was so glad to see Pamela Robin Brandt's review of Jay's Market & Eatery ("Chowder Down," January 17). My girlfriend and I just moved from Kendall to Miami Beach a few months ago. (I know, I know! What the hell were we doing living in Kendall? Hey, we moved there from Columbus, Ohio, okay?) Anyway, Jay's was one of two reasons we were sad to leave Kendall -- and trust me, there were only two reasons.

We love Jay's! We love the owners, too. Very cool people, very dedicated. We've eaten there so many times, and we've had many of their sweetheart specials. What a deal: $29.88 for a full-course meal and bottle of wine. And such good food.

We always wondered why no magazine or other publication (including Zagat) didn't have the restaurant listed. Now maybe more publications will. The owners certainly deserve the publicity.

By the way, the second reason we were sad to move away was leaving the Italian restaurant Amici's. It's in the Kendall shopping center at the intersection of 104th Street and 152nd Avenue. Pamela Robin Brandt should definitely check it out. Awesome pizza and chicken parmigiana.

Jared Quartell
Miami Beach

America to World: Bend to Our Will or Else!

Breathtakingly arrogant international control freaks or hopelessly ignorant naifs? You be the judge: In response to Jacob Bernstein's article about our vulnerability to terrorism ("The Wake-Up Call," January 10), former U.S. Marshal José Lopez brings up a valid point regarding America's one-sided "culture club." With the same arrogance that established the doctrine of Manifest Destiny in the late 1800s, the United States continues to bully the globe, forcing all to assimilate to its culture. Those who concede to our demands are rewarded. Those who do not are punished, sometimes severely.

Like a neurotic control freak, the United States feels compelled to manage, by financial incentive or brute force, the economics and political leadership of every country outside its borders. To America it's all about the "Benjamins": creating consumers for American products, drafting trade agreements that only benefit American big business, and controlling international political processes to ensure "America-friendly" governments worldwide. The American experience is like an insidious epidemic, seeping into and infecting beautiful and unique cultures around the world. And to add insult to injury, we always justify our self-serving actions by creating an "enemy of America" or by concocting a "problem" that we heroically help solve.

On the flip side, America insulates its borders from any outside cultural influence in a methodical fashion. Within the past decade, international news departments at every major U.S. newspaper were severely pared down or eliminated completely. On television, world news includes only those issues or stories that directly involve the U.S., and even then stories that show the United States in a negative light are never aired. (How many Americans hear about the Bilderberg conferences; U.S. multinational companies committing egregious human-rights violations in Third World countries; or the worldwide protests against the International Monetary Fund, which is creating poverty and displacing millions worldwide for the sake of profit?

The unbridled arrogance and stupidity of our leaders, driven as they are by special interests, are transparent to everyone but Americans. Although we can't seem to get enough of the mindless political banter on bubble-gum news channels such as CNN and Fox News, outside our borders this evasive, contradictory double talk and stringent control of the press is patently obvious. And ridiculed. And despised.

And what's so great about the American culture anyway? With 35 million Americans below the poverty line, 2 million in prison, 40 million illiterate, and one-third without health care, in addition to more than 25 million serious crimes committed each year, it makes the American Dream seem like just that -- a dream.

Everything we are and everything we do breeds hatred. Unless Americans band together to facilitate change, this precarious situation in which we have put ourselves will only get worse. We must travel, open our minds, learn new languages, and demand more of our politicians. Their tunnel vision has affected us all, and it is time we take control of our opinions and perceptions. Only then can we take the first step toward peace.

Jessica McGilvery

The Souto Solution: Educate, Then Enforce

Team Metro wasn't broken, so why fix it? I enjoyed Jim DeFede's article about Deborah Curtin, the former director of Team Metro ("A Public Servant Goes Public," December 20). I have always been a strong supporter of Team Metro, and my position on code enforcement is clear. Strict enforcement of the code is necessary to maintain the aesthetics and quality of life in our community.

While I support strict enforcement of the code, I also believe people should be educated about the code. For that reason I came up with the idea of an educational pamphlet named "The Golden Guide." The "Golden Guide," implemented under Ms. Curtin's leadership, is a guide to Miami-Dade County codes. The guide lists the most commonly violated codes in the county and explains the manner in which Team Metro enforces the code and the fines for each violation. The guide was later translated into Spanish to reach more of our community.

I don't know what type of "leaks" may have occurred from Team Metro to my staff, but my office has always had a very good professional relationship with the employees of Team Metro. It saddened me to read in Mr. DeFede's article that there are plans to change the way Team Metro operates. I've always said that Team Metro has gone through some ups and downs, but that can be expected from any municipal agency. The way to improve some of the issues that have plagued Team Metro is with better and more employee training.

On balance I think Team Metro has been doing a very good job enforcing the codes of Miami-Dade County. It is crucial for our future that law and order be observed.

Javier Souto, commissioner
Miami-Dade County


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