Letters to the Editor
Glasgow Shall Lead
Free weekly respectfully ponders sage advice: My opinion: Kathy Glasgow's article "A Cuban Idyll" (February 8) is the best piece ever written for New Times. It was absolutely the least-biased piece ever to appear in your pages. The editors should consider: This is the direction for one of the finest papers in the world.
Four decades of bitter disappointment: Most of the time it is a critic from New Times reporting about Cuba. But today I was touched by the beautiful pages devoted to Kathy Glasgow's "A Cuban Idyll." It was sad, sad, sad. Such wasted lives after 42 years of a revolution that was supposed to improve things for the most needy.
Keep the faith, for someday the veil will be lifted: Kathy Glasgow is a terrific writer, but I was somewhat disappointed with the melancholy manner in which she ended "A Cuban Idyll." First of all the enemy is not just Castro but all who tread on the rights of others, and not just in Cuba but in America, too. The difference is that in American one can fight back. Tyrants beware!
Some rhetorical fireworks would have been appropriate, perhaps the words of eighteenth-century English libertarian Richard Price: "Tremble all ye oppressors of the world! Be encouraged all ye friends of freedom and writers in its defence! The times are auspicious. Your labors have not been in vain. Behold kingdoms, admonished by you, starting from sleep, breaking their fetters, claiming justice from their oppressors."
In the meantime, Kathy, please tell your character Benjamin to straighten his shoulders and lift his head up high. His due diligence, even if it is a matter of merely waiting it out, will not have been in vain.
Columnist cheered for inflicting gruesome injuries: When you're hot, you're hot. Brett Sokol's recent "Kulchur" columns have been hitting the nail on the head and driving it straight through your skull.
First was the story about independent movie houses ("Reeling in the Year," January 4). I was a supporter of the Alliance Cinema for many of its early years in Miami Beach, but when the movies became predictable, and were the same as those playing at the high-back-chair megaplex, the megaplex won.
They should have gotten films with much more of an edge, films that make the megaplexes shudder! Being from the edge myself, I can say there are many of us out here under the rocks who would have been crawling out to stand in line. And we did during the three or four movies each year the megaplexes shied from. I hope the Mercury Theater owners get wise to us oddballs under the Miami sun, and to the general public's apathy and desire for a soft cushion under their bums.
Next there was the two-part take on life in club(la la)land ("The Art and Science of Clubland," January 25 and February 1). It's been awhile since I've tripped the velvet-rope fantastic, and I was happy to learn of a club like crobar that was bucking the big-bouncer-attitude trend. It's funny how, when you stop consuming various mind-altering letters of the alphabet, you see the sunrise of club life as all too predictable. There are only so many times a year you can stand to hear a DJ's musical climaxes, fades, and bigger climax, followed by an even bigger climax -- over and over and over and over. It's great the first twelve years, but after that only the letters make it bearable.
Thanks to Kulchur for keeping us on the edge.
May It Please the Court
of Public Opinion
The Leslie Bowe jury is in, and he is outta here: I read with interest the January 4 letter from Mr. Thom Raso about the article on Leslie Bowe winning the lottery. The article by Mike Clary ("Fractured Fortunes," December 14) and letter prove that, all too often, justice is in the eye of the beholder. Let me set the record straight about a couple of important points.
First, I am not Mr. Bowe's favorite person. As an attorney I represented Sylvia Giardina, who won her case to claim her share of the $17 million Lotto prize Mr. Bowe had claimed for himself alone. Everyone I have spoken to who knows Mr. Bowe outside the context of the lawsuit had nothing but nice things to say about him. They could not believe he would cheat his co-workers out of their share of the Lotto prize. In fact his co-workers who were members of the pool couldn't believe it either -- except for Sylvia Giardina. That is why they did not join her case against Bowe. Only later did the others learn the whole story.
Second, Mr. Bowe may still believe he did nothing wrong when he purchased fifteen tickets with money from his own pocket for the September 17, 1994, Lotto drawing -- without cashing the pool's nine dollars in winning tickets from the previous week, purchasing nine tickets with that money, then giving copies to all pool members.
Third, maybe Mr. Bowe is convinced Ms. Giardina lied when she testified that he agreed to replay all winnings every week until there were no more winnings. Maybe he is convinced she lied when she testified that, when he did not replay the winnings for three weeks after the first drawing and she asked him what he had done with the winnings, he said he was sorry and asked if it was all right not to play that particular week and wait until the pot grew to more than seven million dollars.
Fourth, maybe Mr. Bowe's lawyers never explained to him the law governing joint ventures (such as a Lotto pool) so he might understand that even though he does not think he must share the winnings, the law does not agree with him.
Let's get straight a few incontrovertible facts. The trial court initially threw out Giardina's case as unsupportable by any law. But three judges of the Third District Court of Appeal unanimously reversed that ruling and reinstated the case for jury trial. When Bowe lost the appeal, he replaced his attorneys.
At the trial each of the members of the pool testified about what he or she knew regarding how the pool began, how it was supposed to be run, and whether Mr. Bowe had breached the pool agreement by not replaying the nine dollars of winning tickets from the previous week. Ms. Giardina testified that Mr. Bowe had agreed to buy tickets each week until there were no more winnings. When for three weeks he failed to buy more tickets with the winnings after the first drawing, he agreed to buy tickets with any winnings whenever the Lotto jackpot was greater than seven million dollars. Mr. Bowe testified he never made either agreement with Ms. Giardina.
The Giardina jury was instructed to apply the law to the facts as they found them. The jury returned their verdict in less than twenty minutes. The trial judge, who originally dismissed the case, thought Bowe should have won, but he upheld the jury verdict because the District Court of Appeal said a jury had to decide the case.
Bowe appealed the jury verdict. Again three judges of the District Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the jury's verdict. The jury heard all the evidence and believed Giardina. That is what jury trials are about: deciding who is telling the truth.
Giardina, as one of eight members of the pool, was only entitled to her one-eighth share of the winnings. Since the jury decided that Bowe had breached his legal duty to the pool, not just to Giardina, the other pool members finally began to ask: "If Giardina is entitled to her share of the pool winnings, shouldn't we also get our share?"
After losing the second appeal, Bowe again fired his attorneys and hired a third law firm to represent him in a new case brought by the other pool members. The trial court reviewed the extensive testimony of all parties and the transcript of the previous trial and agreed the other pool members were entitled to their share. A judgment was entered against Bowe for all past annual payments plus interest, for a total of $4,935,337.08. In addition the pool members were to receive their proportionate share of remaining annual payments.
Mr. Bowe then hired yet another set of lawyers and filed for bankruptcy protection, claiming among other things that the lottery payments were a protected annuity he could keep and not have to pay to the pool members or others to whom he owed money. The financial disclosures Mr. Bowe made in bankruptcy court showed he had nothing left to pay the $4.9 million judgment except future payments from the lottery. His one-eighth share of future payments would be $106,250 per year before taxes. You do the math. If Mr. Bowe is still a millionaire, as letter-writer Thom Raso claims, then someone misled the bankruptcy court.
No doubt Mr. Bowe's personal sense of justice has been offended by the outcome, but only one judge agreed with him. Six judges and six jurors agreed with Ms. Giardina. A seventh judge agreed with all the other pool members.
A Tale of Two Covers
Nice white guy, goofy black guy; go figure: After reading Mike Clary's article about how Leslie Bowe was sued after winning $17 million in the lottery, I still do not understand New Times's decision to place such an unflattering artist's portrait of the man on the cover.
I find it very interesting, for example, in the preceding issue, featuring a cover story about the handsome blond-haired, blue-eyed Shawn Lewis, who admits his criminal wrongdoing in striking a police officer during a drunken brawl, that you did not use such an artist's portrait on the cover ("The Education of Shawn Lewis," December 7).
Go ahead, humor me and convince me that such a cover of Mr. Bowe had nothing to do with his being a gay black man in America.
I think the story was well written. It didn't need the biased portrait of Mr. Bowe on the cover. He has every right to spend his portion of the money any legal way he chooses.
Coffin nails and the moral imperatives of free-market capitalism: Tell me, how can a paper that espouses (and often practices) such high principles, a paper that is willing to put itself on the line and risk offending the status quo here in South Florida, how can New Times still continue to carry cigarette (cancer) advertising on its pages?
Where are your principles? Or as it is with so many of the Miami-Dade officials you write about and expose, is money and profit the highest priority for you too?
Come on, New Times. It's time to reject all cigarette advertising in your paper.
Social responsibility and the detritus of free-market capitalism: I would like to propose a monthly trash pickup of old discarded copies of New Times that litter our beaches, sidewalks, and streets. Perhaps New Times would be willing to provide snacks or lunch to participants in the pickup. Those who take part would be lending a public service to affected areas while, at the same time, showing a common purpose.
I invite comment on this idea by New Times or any interested party -- I believe it to be sound in purpose and an instrument by which we can be brought closer together.
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