Letters to the Editor
If You See Her Comin', Better Step Aside
Heaven help the fool who crosses Estrella Rubio: Jacob Bernstein's story about Cuban political activist Estrella Rubio ("The Autumn of the Matriarch," March 22) shocked me, in part because I met her just two weeks ago at a radio station. I saw this frail old lady who had people hovering around her, clinging to her every word. I wondered who she was (I am unfamiliar with local politics) and what role she played in Miami.
After asking several people, I received this response: She is the main person in Miami, the backbone in the next City of Miami mayoral election. She is the giver and the taker of all those she has helped to be elected. How can one elderly person be so powerful? The answer is simple. She is Estrella Rubio, a woman with a history (which I've now learned, thanks to your story) of helping Miami's exiles.
I feel like a political infant compared to Estrella. She is without a doubt a fighter. After last week's Miami-Dade County Republican Party meeting, I was asked to give Estrella a ride home. She was very upset (to say the least) with party chairwoman Mary Ellen Miller for not allowing Carlos Salman to become honorary chairman. She was madder than a stuck pig. During the twenty-minute ride, she cursed and cursed and said words that only a man would say. I dare not repeat them. They would make a sailor blush.
God help the person she is against. All those who oppose her will soon feel the wrath of Estrella.
The Joy of Reading
Yes, even when it's DeFede hammering on our clueless, ignorant, disgraceful elected officials: It is always a joy to read Jim DeFede's columns, especially when, like "Strike Three" (March 22), they are about Miami-Dade County government. It's sad and disgraceful to hear about our elected officials. Instead of representing the citizens, they represent themselves and their interest in how much money can get into their pockets. They not only appear to be ignorant and egotistical (which they are), the reality is they have no clue what they are doing.
Steve Shiver never should have been appointed to the position of county manager, but of course our intelligent board of county commissioners accepted him after Mayor Penelas chose him. Because of them, Greater Miami always looks irresponsible and incompetent. Case in point: suing the federal government over Homestead Air Force Base.
Frankly I do not want my tax money to be spent in litigation with the government, which is going to be a fruitless endeavor. The commission still has not worked out the problems at Miami International Airport, and that doesn't look like it's going to be resolved any time soon. Plus the airport's remodeling budget keeps going up.
We are in fact a banana republic. And trust me, it is not because of all the Cubans who live here. It's our politicians.
It Must Be Something in the Air
And judging from commissioners' cuckoo conduct, it must be wickedly powerful: Anyone who watched the March 8 county commission meeting described by Jim DeFede in "Strike Three," at which County Manager Steve Shiver lied to buttress Mayor Penelas's goal of suing the U.S. Air Force for blocking a commercial airport in Homestead, must be wondering what the heck is going on. That is a timely question.
We keep asking for accountability from our public officials, but we don't get it. At county hall it's possible this is on account of unexamined, external factors. Something is making our county commissioners seem like drunken idiots. Could it be an undetected gas, possibly propelled through their microphones as they lean in to speak, rendering them senseless? They seem engaged, but they are under the influence. They let the new county manager lie to one of their fellow commissioners and did not challenge him. They did not ask for an explanation of his lie. They did not get up and storm out. They sat there passively, as if in a drugged stupor. And then they voted to sue the federal government.
What a grandiose idea: The county sues the air force over property it doesn't even control. This is so egregiously preposterous the county's inspector general should immediately order carpenters to rip apart the dais so forensic chemists can check for a clear, odorless gas.
Watch a commission meeting carefully, and you'll see that each commissioner and the manager have use of a personal telephone while on the dais -- perhaps to receive words of encouragement from supporters, or to see if their children have done their homework, or to find out if their checks have cleared. Could it be that the telephone mouthpieces contain miniature canisters of delirium gas? Maybe they're activated when the headset is lifted from the cradle, sending out a fine mist and making the speakers instantly dumb.
It's possible that some commissioners have built up a delirium-gas immunity over the long years they've held their seats, but County Manager Shiver is so new and fresh, he was instantly overcome. He didn't know who he was up there. Mayor of Homestead? Manager of Miami-Dade County? The Cat in the Hat?
Our elected officials have made Miami-Dade County an embarrassing spectacle not even the king of Spain could fail to see. If I were the inspector general, I wouldn't lose a minute. Before the red carpet is rolled out for the king, do the testing. Find out why our invisible mayor and county commissioners act this way.
Name Withheld by Request
Elvis, the Original Mack Daddy
White kids like hip-hop, ipso facto it can't be all bad: In response to the letter from Jacquelle E. Sconiers (March 15), who complained about the movie The Dirty South and the bad image projected by black rappers, I hope the people she is around are not so small-minded to think that all blacks in Miami are mack daddies and 'hos. That's like saying all whites in Perry, Florida, don't like black people, or that Governor Bush is about to make life hard for all black people in Florida with his tax cuts.
Ms. Sconiers is helping others to place us in a box that was built long, long ago. I understand what she is trying to say, and I really feel her, but she should vibe without that same old box perception.
A lot of white teenagers buy rap music and attend rap concerts. Not all rap is bad. But some guys are going to be negative no matter what. Plus it sells. Remember, they said Elvis Presley was bad for the youth.
Long live hip-hop.
Terry Fernando Newton
So He's a Thug, So What?
You gotta admit, the guy knew how to throw a party: Tristram Korten's most recent article about Chris Paciello ("Goon Over Miami, Part 4," February 8) is postreactive, hypercritical garbage. Korten knows damn well that from 1996 to 1999 Paciello was the straw that stirred the drink in South Beach. Everyone saw how good his clubs were and watched as he drew top celebrities to town. He was at the epicenter of a golden era for South Beach. He was the catalyst behind the boom of recognition for Miami's nightlife.
Now that his past has screwed him, he's ratting out bigger scum. Korten doesn't like his rap sheet, so now he's a joke? More like a legend, I'd say. Wait till they make a movie about him. He will become as immortal as Al Capone.
Tell me someone like [nightlife entrepreneur] Shawn Lewis is so great ("The Education of Shawn Lewis," December 7, 2000, and "The Secondary Education of Shawn Lewis," March 15). Let's see if he can even hold on to his liquor license. South Beach was better then than it is now, and Paciello was a big reason why.