Letters to the Editor

Never Too Small to Break the Rules
Andrea Loring got tired of seeing private high schools recruit star basketball players. But she had no idea busting them would bring her such grief.
By Robert Andrew Powell

Never Too Small to Grouse
Robert Andrew Powell's article "Never Too Small to Break the Rules" (March 9), about the high school basketball situation in Miami-Dade County, did present some arguments on both sides, and this was appreciated. However, there were at least two major errors and some omissions:

Error #1: A photo caption in the article labeled the boys in question from Miami Christian School as "illegal." The truth is the boys are not illegal. They have valid passports and beyond that have valid I-20 [immigration status]. They are legally in the country and have the proper documentation to prove it. They also are of the proper age and have the proper grade-point averages to play according the regulations of the Florida High School Activities Association (FHSAA).

Error #2: As school head of Miami Christian, I was quoted as saying a man named Andrew was involved in bringing the boys to the school. In all the conversations I had with Robert, neither he nor I ever mentioned any Andrew. I have no idea who this supposed Andrew is.

Omission #1: The FHSAA asked for further documentation on the three ineligible players at Miami Christian and then did not have the documents translated from Spanish before making their decision. To date the state has not had them translated, though the school offered to pay for it.

Omission #2: The FHSAA, after pulling players before the end of the season -- but before district, regional, and final-four playoffs -- would not allow an appeal hearing until the day of the Class 1A state championship game, far too late for any of the boys to play should their appeal have been won. This appeal process is clearly lacking any due-process provisions afforded any person, including internationals, under our federal constitution.

Omission #3: The three boys in question at Miami Christian not only have appropriate immigration documentation, they also fall well within the age and grade guidelines of the FHSAA.

I found it very eye-opening to sit in the stands at the final four in Lakeland, among people who did not know I was school head of Miami Christian, and listen to them speak freely to each other about the situation. There were some people from upstate Florida saying they knew the FHSAA was pulling out international players and their teams just to protect the basketball dynasty of the North Florida schools like Malone, Port St. Joe, and Arlington Country Day. They obviously feel the FHSAA works hard to keep the North Florida basketball dynasty intact.

The Florida state legislature (the governing body of the FHSAA) needs to take steps to ensure that the educational system in Florida is not denied to international students merely because they are also athletic. Legislators and the FHSAA need to:

•Realize that South Florida, and increasingly all of the state, is diverse and international

•Require that FHSAA board members be made up of individuals who reflect the international diversity and population of the entire State of Florida

•Provide for the translations of international transcripts for the purpose of validation for both the state and the schools; these translations should be done by any of the numerous certified translators in the state who have no vested interest in the outcome

•Acknowledge that due process must provide a hearing before irreparable harm has been done to the students

•Understand that unless the geopolitical situation changes in the world, Florida will remain international

The FHSAA should be proud of its schools, like Miami Christian, which have bona fide English as Second Language programs for their athletic and nonathletic international students. The FHSAA should develop a system whereby internationals can be accepted regardless of whether they are athletic rather than progress toward a systematic denial of all athletic internationals, thus creating a new class of people against whom to discriminate.

Steps of this nature would end the abuse of power that is currently demonstrated by the actions of the FHSAA. Otherwise Robert Andrew Powell's next article might be titled, "Empowerment Without Regulation Ensures Clear Abuse of Power."

Lorena Morrison
Miami Christian School

Never Too Small to Grumble
As a parent, teacher, and resident of Miami-Dade County for more than 25 years, I was very unhappy about Robert Andrew Powell's article. First, I think it is important to mention that the official making the decisions about our basketball team was quoted as saying, "It is repugnant and disgusting of [sic] bringing in international standouts.... It is not good for basketball statewide." Miami-Dade County is and has been an international community for as long as I have lived here. Our diversity is one of our many strengths, and I find it terribly offensive to label any member of our international community as repugnant or disgusting.

Second, the students in question at Miami Christian are here on valid passports and I-20s. I would be very interested to know why he referred to them as "illegal." Further they were found to be of proper age and to have the proper grade-point averages.

Last, Mr. Powell failed to mention the complete lack of constitutional due process. The students were not allowed an appeal hearing until after basketball season was over. This is like forcing an accused person to serve his sentence before getting a hearing. This is contrary to any rights guaranteed to persons under our constitution.

Joanna Clark

Never Too Small to Gripe
Robert Andrew Powell made it sound as though having a Spanish-speaking parent "businessman who volunteers his time as an assistant coach" was prima facie evidence that recruiting of foreign students had taken place. Was there any bias or discrimination wrapped up in that assumption?

Miami-Dade is the county with the top immigration rate for the entire United States, surpassing Los Angeles and New York City. Why wouldn't our schools be filled with international students and international athletes? As Dorothy said to Toto in The Wizard of Oz: "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." It's about time the encapsulated officials at the FHSAA came into the 21st Century.

Bernie Black

Robert Andrew Powell replies: Regarding Lorena Morrison's complaint about my use of the word illegal, the reference was not to the immigration status of the students but to the FHSAA's determination that several of them had used up their high school eligibility before arriving in Miami and playing for Miami Christian. As for the mysterious "Andrew," Ms. Morrison did indeed discuss the man and the Dominican students he provided to her school.

Joanna Clark may have evidence that an FHSAA official used the words "repugnant" and "disgusting," but those words did not appear anywhere in my story.

Finally, I reject Bernie Black's insinuation that I expressed bias and discrimination in referring to the Spanish-speaking volunteer coach who allegedly recruited players from the Dominican Republic. As noted in my article, that charge was made by "sources familiar with the FHSAA investigation," not by me.

It is worth noting that Miami Christian won the Class 1A state championship this past weekend despite three of its Dominican players being declared ineligible.

The Food Corner: Oh Yes, I Remember Moscow Well
I have followed Jen Karetnick's reviews since I moved to South Florida three years ago, and always found them to be entertaining and extremely assertive, though long at times. I've never disagreed with her opinion. So I was surprised by the way Tuscan Steak was treated by critic Susan Pierres ("Tuscan Steak, Florida Style," February 10). Although I live in Palm Beach, I commute to Miami and dine at Tuscan Steak every week. When my family and friends come to South Florida, they beg me to take them there. Must be all that American beef we Americans crave. After all, it is delicious!

But now, who the !*#@? cares about all the years Ms. Pierres spent in Italy? Twenty percent of the review was dedicated to that. I thought she was supposed to review the restaurant. Perhaps she would be better suited writing for a travel-and-leisure section instead.

Ms. Pierres should consider herself fortunate she got to taste the real white Chianina beef, so rarely found in Italian restaurants that even native Italians don't know it exists. And since when does marinating in fresh garlic, basil, parsley, rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper not sound Tuscan? It does to me, though I've only been to Italy a dozen times, which is nothing compared to her, right? And why did she concentrate on just the couple of dishes she found disappointing? It would have made more sense for her to spend less energy justifying her disappointments and more on the menu items she did like.

I sincerely hope Ms. Pierres won't feel obligated to demonstrate her culinary expertise by living in every region of the world. If she reviews Red Square and China Grill, will I be forced to read about the extensive time she spent in Moscow and Beijing? Let's get real, okay?

Michael Katz
Palm Beach

The Food Corner: People Are Strange When You're a DinerPamela Robin Brandt's review of the S&S Diner ("All in the S&S Family," January 27) included a fair recollection of its history, though I believe she misspelled Charley Cavalaies's last name. I don't know how to spell it but I know there is an r in there somewhere. She also fairly reviewed the present.

I have been going to the S&S for the past twenty years, and though not everything has remained the same under the new ownership, it still is one of my favorite restaurants, especially for breakfast. One always encounters the most unusual people there as well.

Terry Zarikian

You Want Your Italian? I Got Your Italian Right Here
I don't know how the food tastes at Macaluso's, as I've never eaten there, but for Victoria Pesce Elliott ("Ready-to-Eat," November 18) to say "there is nothing at Macaluso's that compares with any of Miami's truly fine Italian eateries" is simply not true.

Wake up! There is no Italian food in Miami.

As of yet I have not found any truly fine Italian eateries. Some of them may look nice from the outside but trust me, whatever it is they serve, it is not Italian. What can I say? There are just some things you cannot fake. If you call what they have in Miami "Italian food," then I feel sorry for you that you don't know what ecstasy is. I don't think one guy should be singled out when all the so-called Italian food in Miami tastes like something my dog used to turn up her nose at and walk away from. And she was a mutt, not the snobbish type.

As for pizza, there is no good New York-style pizza in Miami. I'm not sure what you would call it -- possibly a grilled-cheese sandwich with ketchup on it? As for the spaghetti, maybe it could be better referred to as straw with grated paper.

Name Withheld by Request
Miami Beach


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