A role model for bureaucracy-busters everywhere: After reading Daniela Lamas's article about Margaret Weedman ("21-Plus & Holding," August 2), I'd say she sounds like the type of woman I hope to be one day. I admire that spunk and honesty, most especially when trying to deal with bureaucracies. And Miami-Dade's is at the top of the list.
Since the beginning of the Special Transportation Service program so long ago, we have heard nothing but complaints. They're not just the problems mentioned by Ms. Weedman; they also include stories of mean drivers cheating passengers and refusing to stop for a restroom after having to ride around for hours.
I've been following the twists and turns of Miami-Dade politics since the Fifties. Sometime I hope to meet Ms. Weedman.
Representative of Something Larger
That something would be the Fidel within: After reading Kathy Glasgow's story about U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart being fined $30,000 by the Federal Election Commission ("Gotcha!" July 26), it becomes clear that the real injustice lies not so much in the "mistakes" committed by Diaz-Balart or his staff but in the public's indifference toward them. Unfortunately we Cubans tend to be more impressed with el politico's station in life than with the process that got him there in the first place. Ruling by right seems to be the norm in this part of the world, not the exception.
Diaz-Balart's case and others like it show how relatively unversed the Cuban diaspora is in the ways of democracy, which is really tolerance with a political twist. Look anywhere in Miami, and you are certain to find a Cuban who has adopted a dictatorial system of management. Unlike the Englishman, we have not been able to part with the king's gold. We come bearing his gifts on our necks, wrists, and ankles, an innate predisposition that has only contributed to the rudeness and lack of civic-mindedness experienced here in Miami, the Tammany Hall capital of the South. Of course the fact that hypermaterialism is producing a land of idiots, a land ripe for foraging, doesn't help either.
Fidel may one day disappear, but whether the Fidel in us will is another matter.
One Problem: No Free Press
Politics thwarts free weekly's Cuba distribution plans: Kathy Glasgow's article about Lincoln Diaz-Balart's slimy methods of dealing with campaign finances is wasted on an American public that has been trained, for the most part, to look the other way when a morally corrupt Cuban politician operates under a double standard.
Has New Times considered placing newsracks throughout Cuba? Educating the people of Cuba about the corrupt Cuban power structure in America might be the kindest act possible toward a post-Castro Cuban people. The citizens of Cuba should be making a list and checking it twice. Diaz-Balart types abound, and they're not very nice. Prohibiting them from entering a post-Castro Cuba should be considered as one method for preventing further pollution of Cuban soil.
Way Too Smart to Take the Bait
Standing proud and alone on the journalistic high ground: I read with bemusement Brett Sokol's two "Kulchur" columns on Sean Combs ("All Puffed Up," July 26 and "Mo' Money, Mo' Trouble," August 2). In the first Mr. Sokol expressed indignation toward the rest of the Miami press corps because they seem to have fallen for the P. Diddy hype.
It was good to see that Brett and New Times held themselves to a higher journalistic standard by not putting Puffy on the cover of the July 26 edition. Further, I'm glad that Brett wrote only a brief review of Puffy's album. He might just as easily have chronicled the success this marketing genius has had at getting media outlets nationwide to promote his products and his personality by promoting his foibles as well. It's good that New Times and Brett did not fall for the hype.
Fair, Accurate, and Too Close for Comfort
Dining at the buffet table of journalistic ethics: While I am no Steven Brill, I did manage to notice that Lee Klein's review of Breez restaurant ("Cooool Breez," July 26) was placed conspicuously close to the restaurant's full-page, four-color paid advertisement. While the casual reader may not regard this with suspicion, others could think something's fishy.
Having eaten at Breez, I think Klein's review was fair and accurate. But next time you're laying out the paper, perhaps someone should do a little more than breeze through it to make sure these things don't happen. We wouldn't want to think that your fair and accurate journalism may be a bit spoiled.
South Beach Manifesto: Ka-ching!
It's about the party, stupid: This is in response to the various articles, columns, and letters New Times has published regarding Memorial Day weekend and the thousands of hip-hop fans who descended on Miami Beach. I believe South Beach is the best playground in the United States. The nightlife here is better than that in Las Vegas. We should be able to promote ourselves as the play mecca of the nation, and in doing so we, as a city, need to be prepared for what our promotions may bring. Why do we have all these hotels and clubs? To party! Either we should put on our thinking caps for the next show or turn in our hats and close all the hotels and clubs.
One thing we must understand is that different people party differently. We were unprepared for that when 200,000 visitors came here to party over Memorial Day. And because we were not prepared, we began to make it a color issue. I find this to be unfair. We all know the bottom line is the color green, as in money. So let's not point fingers. Instead let's admit that we need to be better prepared in the future.
One thing we can be certain about: We have what it takes to draw a quarter-million people to our parties. I think it worked so well that it scared us. We should learn from our mistakes and move on to prepare for the next party. Keep the green rolling!
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South Beach Manifesto: The History of Ka-ching!
It's old and sad and noisy: Being up here in peaceful Vero Beach, it takes a while to get the news about civilly and ethically bankrupt Miami Beach. The essence of the recent hip-hop controversy, however, is not new news. It all started years ago, when Neisen Kasdin -- then a private attorney, now mayor -- helped "enable" the Clevelander hotel and bar into business. This destroyed the peace and quiet of the Clevelander's neighbors and ruined the business of the beautifully restored Essex House hotel behind it.
No one other than the neighbors cared. And that was just the beginning. The "establishment" saw that being a noisy, bad-taste neighbor paid handsomely. The rest is sad history.
Erratum Owing to a reporting error in Rebecca Wakefield's article "Confessions of a Former School District Cop" (July 19), inaccurate language was used to describe an agreement reached between the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and José Gonzalez, former assistant chief of the Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department. Prosecutors were investigating allegations that Gonzalez was involved in a 1987 plot to kill a witness associated with the notorious Miami River Cops case. No charges were filed. After negotiations with the State Attorney's Office, Gonzalez agreed to resign from the school police department, surrender his credentials to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and refrain from seeking employment with another police agency. There was no "plea agreement," as incorrectly reported. New Times regrets the error.