Letters to the Editor
The Municipal Equivalent of Being a Little Bit Pregnant
Either you're a city or you're not: Though a rose is a rose is a rose, the seeds of what is being planted in the Redland may bear a prickly, poisonous plant. And though Jacob Bernstein highlighted personal feuds and conflicts between farmers and developers in his article "We Built This City" (May 3), he did not discuss the heart of the problem, which is the deadly flower in the Redland's incorporation.
Unlike the 30 fully empowered cities of Miami-Dade County, the Redland is well on its way to replicating Miami Lakes, the first toxic "dual-rule" city in the county. In a dual-rule city, the county keeps control over many of the new city's functions, including police, fire, solid waste, and library, while residents are in charge of whatever remains. Unfortunately the Redland is in even worse shape than Miami Lakes because it cannot wrest from the county control over its land use.
Sustaining agriculture and resisting development are the main reasons for the Redland to become a city, as Mr. Bernstein correctly notes. The dilemma is that the Redland is entirely outside the urban-development boundary, and unlike all the other cities, its master plan must conform to the county's plan.
Mr. Bernstein mentions the proposed bare-bones budget of the Redland. The reason it's so tight is that the cost of the Miami-Dade police would be an astronomical 75 percent of the budget, in contrast to the fully empowered cities' average of 40 percent. Police cost is just one example of how the new dual-rule cities are shells in which the county maintains its expensive and inefficient operations while satisfying demands for incorporation.
Unlike the rose, in Miami-Dade County a city is not a city is not a city. The citizens of the Redland should sniff, touch, and thoroughly examine their county-engineered flower before planting it in their soil, lest they reap its thorns.
When Caring Really Counts
Free weekly encouraged to perform reproductive act on self: Very interesting to see New Times publish Chuck Strouse's article "Elian Plus One" (April 19), about anti-Cuban racism in the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A year ago, when hysterical rednecks were in Homestead waving Confederate flags and a few very ignorant African Americans were yelling out their hate for Cubans and Latinos, New Times didn't seem to care. When resentful white people were riding around the city with American flags on their cars (not to show their patriotism but using the flag as a symbol of racism) and dumping bananas at Miami City Hall, New Times didn't seem to care.
In fact New Times has been one of the main instigators of anti-Cuban racism for the past year, even going so far as publishing an article that was nothing more than a timeline of every violent act committed by a Cuban exile in the past couple of decades ("The Burden of a Violent History," April 20, 2000). This is evident in the countless letters New Times publishes praising the paper for "exposing those disgusting Cubans."
My heart goes out to INS agent Ricardo Ramirez for putting his career on the line to reveal the truth. As far as New Times is concerned, vayanse todos a chingar.
Well, Someone Has to Do the Dirty Work
Might as well be Reagan's UCLAs: Once again I've read a fascinating and well-prepared article in your first-class publication. This time it was Jefferson Morley's "Revelation 19.63" (April 12), about Cuban exiles and their involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Recently, while in the middle of reading Gary Webb's book Dark Alliance (contras-CIA-cocaine), I also came across the June 1995 Baltimore Sun series by Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson regarding U.S. complicity in human-rights abuses in Honduras when John Negroponte was our nation's ambassador to that country. (Negroponte is now President George W. Bush's nominee to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.)
One compelling fact and theme rings true in all the above, as well as in countless other materials I have seen: Yes, Cuban exiles have gained enviable levels of economic and political power, but over the past 40 years they have also continually popped up as contract agents for the CIA and other "shadow-government" agencies, involved with all kinds of dirty stuff in the name of patriotism and the "freedom-fighter" struggle against communism.
The theme certainly held true under Ronald Reagan, who wanted the bad stuff done "primarily through non-Americans" or "UCLAs" (unilaterally controlled Latinos). Reagan, it seems, never really saw Cuban exiles as Americans.
Given the skilled and persistent researchers available at New Times, why don't you consider stringing together all this stuff in a superrecapitulation of everything these folks have done over the years? You would need a truck to move the awards you would receive.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Pop, pop, pop ... pop? In her letter responding to Jefferson Morley's "Revelation 19.63," Melissa Ruth claims knowledge and expertise regarding the House Select Committee on Assassinations and its "flawed" acoustics study of the shooting at Dealey Plaza. In truth it is Ms. Ruth's analysis, dismissing a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, that is flawed (Letters," April 19).
As the Washington Post reported this past March 21, a peer-reviewed article in the British journal Science and Justice completely demolished the study made by the National Academy of Sciences, which debunked the committee's conclusions that a fourth shot was fired at Kennedy from the so-called grassy knoll and that the assassination was "probably ... the result of a conspiracy."
The Brits concluded that the House Select Committee's study was even more accurate than they originally claimed (95 percent certainty). The British scientists concluded with 96.3 percent certainty that a shot was fired from the grassy knoll.
Editor's note: Another informed reader has alerted us to an error in Jefferson Morley's article "Revelation 19.63." The date President Kennedy was in Miami speaking to Latin-American newspaper publishers was November 18, 1963, not November 19.
Locked Up and Strung Out
It's broken, so let's fix it: Thanks to Kathy Glasgow for a well-researched and well-written article about the lack of substance-abuse recovery programs in our jails ("My Name Is Victor, and I'm a Jail Bird," April 5). Most of us law-abiding citizens choose to distance ourselves from the world of crime and punishment. We know little about what happens after someone has been led away in handcuffs.
Over the years I have known a number of substance abusers -- alcoholics and addicts, some active, some recovering. Almost all were incarcerated during their active addiction, be it for committing crimes against others or for victimizing themselves by using illegal drugs. The vast majority, if not all successful recovering drug addicts and alcoholics I know, are active members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
These twelve-step programs are recognized as being the most successful at taming the monster of addiction and helping its victims become productive, upstanding citizens able to live rewarding lives. And attending these meetings does not cost a nickel; they are absolutely free.
Although I am sure some staff members at the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are concerned and caring individuals, the agency itself doesn't seem much concerned with the rehabilitation part of its title. Not only should AA and NA volunteers be welcome and encouraged to share their experiences and their time with their fellow human beings behind bars, all inmates whose transgressions are directly or indirectly linked to addiction should be mandated to attend these meetings.
The present recidivism rate alone tells us that what we are doing simply is not working. We need to change it, we need reforms, we need to treat the cause rather than the symptoms. It is time for all of us who are shedding the tears, suffering emotional distress, and carrying the enormous financial burden created by addiction and crime to step forward. It is time to contact our legislators, to call, write, petition, and demand positive reforms of our penal system. The focus must be on rehabilitation rather than on incarceration. It can be done and only we can do it.
Limp Bizkit vs. Jimmy Webb: In "Austin Chronicles" Brett Sokol complains that this year's South by Southwest festival trotted out has-been rockers and human anachronisms ("Kulchur," March 29). What a surprise! One reason I've attended four such festivals is to experience those has-beens and anachronisms mixed among the buzz bands and flavor-of-the-month bands. When all has been said and done about today's popular artists (and all will be said and done about Joe, Shaggy, and Sisqó) it will be guys like "MC" Ray Davies whose words will still be read and whose voices will still be heard.
That's part of what makes SXSW work. It's fun to avoid the A&R guys and the journalists and just head out to hear real music by real people. One year, when the buzz band was Elastica (yes, Elastica), some folks decided instead to check out a few real anachronisms, the barely breathing kind. Jimmy Webb. Ray Price. Guys who would never put glue in their hair. How unhip! How uncool!
Bonus points to those who saw these irrelevents and also checked out the Mullens, the Dropouts, or the Psycho Sisters. I'm still wondering what to do with all the bonus points I've accumulated over the years.
If Brett saves his column and reads it again in ten years, I have a feeling he'll cringe at all his pigeonholing. What difference does it make who is relevant in the year 2001? What matters is what an artist accomplishes and will leave behind, unless of course your job depends on being down with all the Limp Bizkit wannabes.
In my book Savage Lost: Florida Garage Bands, The Sixties and Beyond I was able to tell the stories of Florida's music pioneers, stories that could easily have been lost to time. I'll leave the stories of Limp Bizkit and the like for someone else to write.
Thoughtful Advice for a Northern Neighbor
Perhaps new reading material would be a good idea: This is to you, Harvey Slavin ("Letters," May 3), and all the other like-minded individuals in Bigot County -- er, Broward County: Kirk Nielsen's "Enough Billboards Already!" (April 12) appeared in the Miami New Times. If you don't like it, go read New Times Broward/Palm Beach and keep your fucking nose out of our paper!
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