DeFede Takes the Bait
And Shiver takes the heat: Mayor Alex Penelas's political strategy -- employing a county manager with even fewer ethics than he can claim -- is paying off. Jim DeFede is now focused on Steve Shiver, his lies and scams ("A Friend in Need," April 26). As long as Shiver the Scum deflects attention from Alex the Slime, the mayor's position is secure.
The Manager Is Doing a Great Job...
...of making Penelas look good: As a loyal county employee, I gave Mayor Alex Penelas the benefit of the doubt regarding his appointment of Steve Shiver as county manager. But after reading Jim DeFede's accounts, I think I can report that Mr. Shiver's star seems to be falling faster than the NASDAQ.
But despite Mr. DeFede's constant criticism, I think Shiver is doing exactly what he was hired to do, and doing it quite well, thank you very much. Remember, the key in the plan to have the public buy into the strong-mayor proposal and make Penelas the boy-king, is first to discredit the manager form of government. (Merrett who?)
Name Withheld by Request
Watch Your Back, Amigo
You could be next: As I read Chuck Strouse's article about INS agent Ricardo Ramirez ("Elian Plus One," April 19), I was saddened but not surprised by what went on at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The blatant Cuban/Hispanic-bashing was coming from the top -- Clinton and Reno. Why do you think so many anti-Cuban protests were held in Miami? Because that bashing was condoned at all levels of government and indeed in our society generally. I still encounter some of this hatred, which I can only assume was previously hidden under the surface.
What surprised me most was the partnership between Anglos and blacks. I found the situation extremely distressing. The hatred was palpable. How blacks in this community could team up with whites carrying the Confederate flag in order to bash Cubans was astonishing. It just goes to show that some people have no real sense of justice and only scream when the heat touches them. Such people don't understand that when you make evil your partner, it can just as easily turn on you.
Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics at the INS should watch themselves. The next time their racist buddies turn on a group, it could very well be their own. I congratulate Mr. Ramirez for his exceptional courage and will be praying for his safety.
Big Brother Will Smother
And you call this the land of the free? I am writing to commend New Times on its willingness to expose the tactics used by the government against its own employees when they dare to speak the truth about what is going on in federal agencies. It is worse than a shame that in our country, which holds itself out to be the world leader in human rights and which was founded on the premise of free speech, our very own governmental agencies are intolerant of cultural diversity and actively seek to destroy the lives of those employees who stand up for what is right. Discrimination is rampant in all federal agencies.
My heart goes out to Ricardo Ramirez and his family. I know of far too many cases in which federal agencies have destroyed the lives of employees and their families who have spoken out. Please continue to expose the tactics used by government to silence the truth so we Americans can move our country and our government to a point where cultural diversity is honored and we truly achieve our forefathers' vision of free speech.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
I Applaud Those Who Don't Back Down
But I must do so anonymously: As an employee of a federal government agency, I commend Ricardo Ramirez for his willingness to stand up to the corruption in the INS. I also greatly applaud New Times for publishing this story. Most elements of the so-called media have done their best to hide such incidents of corruption and lack of ethics in government agencies.
God bless those who refuse to back down from the bad guys!
Name Withheld by Request
Shooting and Writing
Guns and journalists don't mix: Chuck Strouse says Ricardo Ramirez carries a ".45-caliber semiautomatic Beretta pistol." I don't think there is any such gun. He is probably thinking of the 9mm Parabellum Beretta semiautomatic, which was adopted by the military about a decade ago in place of the .45-caliber M1911A1 pistol.
This may seem a trivial point, but it suggests a sloppiness regarding details. Media people rarely get anything right about guns.
Miami to Monarch: It's All About the Cleavage, Mi Amor
No shame, no modesty, no class: Praise to Rebecca Wakefield for her honesty exposing some truth in writing about the dinner for the king and queen of Spain ("You Are Cordially Invited," April 19). We sometimes admire politicians to the point that we forget they are just that -- politicians. As unjust as it may be, we shouldn't be surprised that the royal couple's visit was used as a payback party by our county mayor. I have to admit, though, that I was surprised by what Ms. Wakefield exposed. One would assume that key figures from the fields of academia and the arts would be appropriately represented, the presidents of our local universities, leaders of the ballet, opera, and symphony. And as Ms. Wakefield mentioned, certain public figures certainly deserved a seat at such an event, Sen. Bob Graham among others.
I was one of those waiting for a glimpse of the royal couple outside the consul general's residence, which is only a few blocks from my home. I was happy to see them wave to us, but appalled at what I saw leaving the breakfast hosted there. Most of the "ladies" leaving through the consul general's gates were wearing painted-on, faux-snakeskin minis, stilettos, and shirts that revealed nearly the entire breast. Is this how a Miamian is presented to a monarch? What must they think of us? Watching this, I was embarrassed for these young "ladies" who apparently had no shame or modesty or class.
But after reading Ms. Wakefield's article and seeing the guest list, I am more understanding. Thank you for exposing the truth behind an event that many regarded as a gathering of the local aristocracy. This line from the story couldn't have been more fitting: "This wasn't the cream of Miami. It was the grease."
C. Michael Ridgdill
Barbara to Seth: Hypocrites and Sycophants, Your Kind of Crowd
No integrity, no conscience, no principles: I am compelled to respond to Seth Gordon's highly irreverent and for the most part irrelevant letter attacking Rebecca Wakefield ("Letters," April 26). Mr. Gordon took offense at her inference that the guests invited to royal dinner were not assembled for their civic merit but rather for their political pandering to the Alex Penelas camp. I will go further and say that not only was Ms. Wakefield right in questioning the list of the attendees, she did not delve far enough in exposing their complete lack of integrity and absence of moral conscience as they gleefully broke bread with a man so singularly responsible for the revitalization of the Cuban economy, which directly contributes to the strengthening of Castro's regime. This was akin to dining with Castro himself.
So much for Mr. Gordon's "accumulated knowledge, judgment, empathy, perspective ... and wisdom," which he presumably gained at the expense of hard facts, choosing instead to rub greasy elbows with the hypocritical sycophants who comprise these exile leaders and supporters, the most prominent of which were only too thrilled to be at this grandiose and pompous-ass affair.
Were many of these not the very same people who ranted and railed against the U.S. government on national television for considering a lifting of the Cuban embargo? Didn't Gloria Estefan try to dissuade Janet Reno from the abominable act of reuniting Elian with his father in Cuba, stressing the horrors of that communist state? Yet here she was, sharing the head table with a man whose country is a leading force in Cuba's burgeoning tourist sector, a country whose revenue to Cuba accounts for eighteen percent of the island's gross national product. Gloria, along with the others, obviously checked her convictions at the door for this one. Mi Tierra my ass.
By hosting this dinner Penelas's so-called advisor, Herman Echevarria, and Penelas himself implicitly contributed to the real cause of the Cuban people's misery: Castro's Marxist-Leninist economic system, not the U.S. embargo. That the attending guests, including CANF chairman Jorge Mas Santos, veteran exile mouthpiece Tomas Regalado, and professional slimeball Joe Carollo never stopped to question the impact of their supporting such an event further exemplifies the lack of moral fiber and weakness of character they bring to their self-promoting causes. "Liberty for Cuba," but first the coffee and desserts for those fortunate enough to benefit from democracy and freedom of speech in a country they are quick to scorn and repudiate.
So, Mr. Gordon, take your "grudging accumulation of knowledge and manners" and shove it up your lily-white ass. You wanted evidence? Well, you got it. Are you brave enough to accept this and come to the appropriate conclusion?
It is clear there is no immediate threat that this community will elect leaders who stand by their principles -- at least not as long as they have supporters like Seth Gordon who choose to follow blindly in their path.
Bob to Seth: You're the Best!
That was one gem of a letter: I know it's way too late for this year, but I have a suggestion for a new "Best of Miami" category. How about "Best Rebuttal by a Reader to an Article in Which He Was Trashed"? If there were such a category, my vote for 2001 would go to Seth Gordon for beating up on Rebecca Wakefield. Ouch!
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Editor's note: As Rebecca Wakefield reported, the list of attendees we published was provided by Mayor Penelas's office. Last week we learned from Penelas's own brother that the list was inaccurate. Luis Penelas did not attend the event in protest of Spain's economic relations with Cuba. We also have learned that Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz did not attend, though their names were on the mayor's list.
The View from Broward
Thoughtful observations from a northern neighbor: So what if the major roadways of the northernmost banana republic look like the whorehouse strips of Las Vegas? So what if the "fox watches the hen house" with regard to billboard entrepreneurs passing judgment on their own illegal billboards? Who cares if no one finds any conflict of interest in all this mumbo jumbo, typically rotten Miami bullshit? So what if, as Kirk Nielsen reported ("Enough Billboards Already!" April 12), that sourpuss Bobbie Mumford and slickster Andy Hancock became business partners, told no one, and want us to believe they're not in violation of Sunshine laws?
Does anyone give a crap? No! Why have one honest advisory board when all the rest are composed of self-serving, politically appointed thieves, liars, phonies, and scumbags? You crooked assholes in Miami-Dade County deserve what you have.