Letters to the Editor

A Life in Jeopardy!
Ever dreamed of being on the brainy game show? Think you could sweep the board? Yeah, Ted B. Kissell did too.
By Ted B. Kissell

And Now We Pause for this Message from Those Who Still Have a Life
Ted B. Kissell's "A Life in Jeopardy!" (April 6), a great lighthearted read, proves that even without Elian, high school sports, and Alex Penelas, there's still life at New Times.

Jim Gordon
North Miami

What Is a Mitzel?
It just so happens I saw that episode of Jeopardy! and I remember the introduction of "a journalist from Miami." I was hoping to see Marilyn Mitzel or even Michael Putney. But Ted B. Kissell? I had no idea who he was, and even wondered if he were a real journalist.

The article, which was full of humor, wit, and intelligence, was enjoyable and informative. Ted definitely is a journalist.

Jose E. Cabrera
via the Internet

Who Is Mr. Embarrassed?
"A Life in Jeopardy!" brought back memories. I also tried out last May in Miami and passed the test. They scheduled me for taping in early August, and my show aired October 19. I finished second, like Ted, and won a trip to Jamaica, which we took just last month.

One interesting anecdote: The defending champion was from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We had a $1000 clue in a category in which all answers included the letters eau. The answer was: "This Wisconsin city ..." and the correct question was: "What is Eau Claire?" I beat the champ to the buzzer, which must have caused immense embarrassment for him when he returned home (counting his money, of course).

Paul Sharman
Fort Lauderdale

Alex Trebek, You've Been Dissed
I'll take "Wastes of Time" for $300, Alex. And the correct question is: "What is a slow news week?"

Why were we unwillingly subjected to the drivel that was Ted B. Kissell's losing account of his life on Jeopardy!? What's up, New Times? Were you really that hard up for news that you had to feature such a lame story? If Mr. Kissell had been on Who Wants to Marry a Journalist?, then maybe. But reading about Jeopardy! is as interesting as reading about what Elian ate for breakfast. Stick to the stories you're good at and leave the cheesy game-show stories for the other rags.

Samantha Lee
Miami Beach

Speaking of Cheese ...
As a concierge at one of the leading hotels on South Beach, I always try to catch your informative restaurant reviews. I was very amused and entertained by Lee Klein's recent review of Mark's South Beach ("On the Mark," March 30). Since he and I obviously share a love for details, I feel compelled to point out a very important detail about the origins of one of the world's most famous cheeses: Gruyère.

This beloved sharp and yet very delicate cheese is one of Switzerland's many prides. Authentic Gruyère is only produced in Switzerland, and therefore will never come out of a French cave (as Mr. Klein wrote), unless it was brought from Switzerland to France. Gruyère is made in romantically beautiful Gruyères, a Medieval hill town in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. (The town is correctly spelled with a s at the end, but the cheese ends with an e.) For the ultimate cheese enthusiast, there is even a cheese museum with an on-site "cheesery."

One more detail: I cordially write as a Swiss expatriate.

Martin Anker
Miami Beach

On the Block
In an act of audacious short-sightedness, Miami is offering its finest bayfront property to the highest bidder
By Jose Luis Jiménez

The Little Convention Center That Could
Please let this letter serve to correct some misinformation concerning the Coconut Grove Convention Center, described in Jose Luis Jiménez's article "On the Block" (March 16).

Mr. Jiménez described the center as "the little-used Coconut Grove Convention Center on Dinner Key," and then used a picture showing just one exhibitor parked in front of the building in order to prove that point.

The truth is that the Coconut Grove Convention Center is one of the most popular public-assembly facilities in Miami-Dade County. The center hosted 67 events last year, an average of more than 5 per month. The "little-used" center already has 43 events scheduled for this year.

The article went on to describe the facility as a commercial disaster from the day it opened. Two facts Mr. Jiménez needs to be aware of:

1) Convention centers are not intended to be profit-making entities. The purpose of a convention center is to be a magnet for the local economy. Convention centers are supposed to attract events and activities (e.g., conventions) that will draw in visitors who will then patronize local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment outlets, thereby enriching our citizens (waiters, cab drivers, maids) and local businesses. Most convention centers are subsidized by special taxes such as bed tax or some other tax on tourism. There is little concern for their profitability. Of greater importance is the number of visitors the facility draws to the area and its impact on the local economy.  

2) In spite of this, the Coconut Grove Convention Center is one of a handful of convention facilities nationally that does turn a profit. The article stated that the center loses approximately $25,000 per year. City of Miami financial records, however, show that even after paying the debt service on the facility, the Coconut Grove Convention Center recorded a net profit of $167,263 for fiscal year 1998-1999. The year before that, the profit was $280,000.

Even Mr. Jiménez's assertion that the convention center is located about a half-mile from the Coconut Grove business district is misleading. The convention center is only two blocks from the Mayfair.

My intent here is not to chastise New Times, nor to boast of the activities of the convention center. I am merely seeking to correct the misperception that the Coconut Grove Convention Center is a do-nothing drain on the citizens of Miami. Nothing can be further from the truth. The facility is viable. Yes, it needs a lot of structural work for it to compete with newer, state-of-the-art convention facilities. But the center does what it is intended to do: draws visitors to the area. And at a profit to boot!

The citizens of Miami deserve to know the truth about their convention center. The City of Miami deserves the credit for operating a successful facility in a very competitive market. And the employees of the center deserve to have their hard work recognized.

Gregory W Wright, manager
Coconut Grove Convention Center

Jose Luis Jiménez replies: My information regarding the convention center's profitability came from Erdal Donmez, director of Miami's Department of Real Estate and Economic Development. He now clarifies that the financial "losses" pertained to potential future revenue. Historically the center has operated at a loss, but now turns a profit.

A City That Literally Can't See the Forest for the Trees
This letter is written in response to "On the Block," to remind you of an old saying: "A short-term gain for a long-term loss." The City of Miami's proposed sale of the only remaining green space on Brickell Avenue would be a local tragedy.

In order for any urban downtown to be complete, it must have a strong residential base. The Brickell area not only has that strong base but the strength that comes from people who truly care about their neighborhood. A very important element in that residential base is the availability of a park, even a little park, they can visit and use in ways a park should be used. We here in Brickell are very fortunate to have Brickell Park. I use and enjoy it daily. In fact I have a vision of a waterfront walkway from the Miami Circle on the river south to the bayfront promenade at Fifteenth Street, complete with a pedestrian bridge over Eighth Street.

Please understand I am not anti-development, I just think the long-range plans for this area need not include the elimination of this great green space that is enjoyed by so many people. The Miami Circle can be one of the most popular attractions this city has. A city park less than two blocks away only enhances the area, and visitors will be more inclined to stay longer. For the people who reside here, the people who work here, and for those visitors yet to come, let us have a little park we all can enjoy, for all the right reasons.

Frank Hernandez

So Long, Been Nice to Know You
Regarding the Elian Gonzalez affair, I am writing to tell you that:

•I will no longer visit Miami as a tourist or private citizen

•I will not attend any business function or convention in Miami

•I will discourage any organization or business over which I have influence to not do business in Miami

•I will discourage anybody I have contact with to not schedule conferences, conventions, or training sessions in the Greater Miami area.

The behavior of a large number of your citizens, and especially of your public officials, in the Elian Gonzalez matter has smacked of the kind of behavior I haven't seen since public officials of Southern states refused to enforce federal civil-rights laws during the Sixties.  

Anyone, especially any public official, who has been involved in this reprehensible effort to turn a child into a piece of political capital should feel nothing but shame. By their actions they have discredited what would otherwise be defensible positions. By their words they have demonstrated that they are only capable of mindless and emotional rhetoric.

I wonder how sympathetic most Cuban Americans are to the arguments presented by the aboriginal American peoples, who feel they have been even more cruelly stripped of rights, lands, and family members. And how sympathetic are they to the oppression experienced by black Americans?

As a citizen of both Canada and United States, I am proud of both countries, but right now it's awfully hard to be proud to be associated with the people of Miami.

Tony Higgins
Edmonton, Alberta

Sign Up Here for AAANFRMUS
I am writing as an American who is alarmed at the incendiary and seditious comments of Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas. It is apparent that he is the mayor of only the Cubans, since he had no hesitation inciting them to riot and commit acts of violence against the non-Cuban population. It is beyond shocking that the mayor of a major U.S. municipality would take a position that pits the passions of one nationalistic group against the rest of the citizens in the community, and would declare a state of rebellion against the United States government.

The obvious message to Anglo and African-American citizens is that no Cuban official will ever fairly represent them or look out for their interests. Unless they organize on the basis of selfish interests -- exactly as the Cuban community has done -- they will be forever shut out of representation in Miami.

I therefore suggest the formation of a new group: the Anglo and African-American Nationalist Front for the Restoration of Miami to the United States.

Jane Zatta
via the Internet

Editor's note: We have received an overwhelming amount of correspondence in response to our recent coverage of the Elian Gonzalez saga. For more see our discussions forum. See "You Have Mail!" in this issue for more reaction to Alex Penelas's controversial remarks.

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