A Portable Feast
In the world of the lunchero, the food is hot, the drinks are cold, and the turf wars are downright dangerous
By Victor Cruz
Straight and Out of Line
In reference to Armando Dominguez's comment from Victor Cruz's article "A Portable Feast" (March 23), obviously he's not intelligent enough to realize that talking about "faggots" is no joke. This is what he was quoted as saying: "Here we talk about everything -- politics, baseball, and faggots."
I'm totally straight and totally offended. This kind of statement should not be tolerated or accepted, especially by his employer. I would never patronize a business that chooses to employ someone so ignorant and insensitive.
Judge Cindy Lederman, champion of justice and advocate extraordinaire, bends the rules on the bench
By Tristram Korten
Court's in Session -- Come on Down!
I was disappointed in the caliber of professionalism exhibited in Tristram Korten's article "Courting Disaster" (March 23). The venomous attacks against Judge Cindy Lederman, mostly by anonymous people, would give any reader reason to question not only the credibility of the author but the publication as well. What is the author's hidden agenda? I don't understand how any attorney worth his salt can refuse to use his name in order to convey a message about which he or she feels passionately. How can attorneys represent their clients in the best possible way if they're afraid to take a stand?
I have been a volunteer guardian ad litem at the Juvenile Justice Center for more than ten years, and have appeared in Judge Lederman's courtroom many times over the past three years. As a guardian I have not always agreed with her decisions, but her professionalism and her interest in doing the right thing for children and their families (not the attorneys or guardians ad litem) has always been paramount. I have always admired the way she "follows the law" in spite of the pressures from attorneys and other outside influences.
Her caring about children and their future is evident in one of her many extracurricular projects, "Picturing Ourselves." A select group of children in foster care are provided with cameras to photograph and write about their world. These photos and articles are displayed on the walls throughout the Juvenile Justice Center, with the goal of promoting greater self-esteem.
Judge Lederman practices in a place where rewards from the outside are few and far between. The difference she makes in children's lives is immeasurable. I personally invite Mr. Korten to come to the justice center and sit in Judge Lederman's courtroom, as well as the other judges' courts, and see what a difference these committed judges make.
Apparently Not in Kansas Anymore
"Courting Disaster" gave me a terrible headache. I felt as if I had been tossed down the rabbit hole with Alice, or tumbled into the tornado with Dorothy. What a topsy-turvy scenario Tristram Korten presented. What a skewed and twisted picture of a superior judge, an extraordinary woman who breathes the fresh air of concern and commitment into the courtroom where she presides. I have sat in Judge Cindy Lederman's courtroom. I have participated in a case with Virginia Stanley. Which one is the "doyenne" and which is "draconian?" Mr. Korten has his terms and his women confused.
As a guardian ad litem for more than fifteen years, I have been involved in numerous dependency cases heard by a wide variety of judges, and have witnessed many attorneys serving the parents and the children. Judge Cindy Lederman is a gem, a gift to the children who pass through our dependency system. Of course she sometimes expresses anger at the parents. Of course she expects them to learn what is best for their children and make an effort to better the situation that has brought them into the system. But whatever she says, whatever she does is not for personal aggrandizement and has nothing to do with petty feelings of revenge. I am convinced that her thoughts are always with the children and what is in their best interest.
There are so many children in pain in this state, this county. Why sully the name of one of their very best advocates? Mr. Korten, you and your newspaper would do a far better service to this community by finding a way to assist Judge Lederman, the Guardian Ad Litem Program, and the Department of Children and Families. You might consider publicizing those programs and organizations that are working to make this a better place for children to thrive. Please do not use your power to destroy a strong voice speaking for children.
Everywhere a Sign
The more illegal billboards the merrier
By Kirk Nielsen
Remove the Signs and the City Officials
As a county employee I have for years campaigned against illegal and/or ugly signs that besmirch our views, with little success. I am glad Kirk Nielsen has now picked up the cause, as I am soon moving to Palm Beach County ("Everywhere a Sign," March 23).
Someone in the City of Miami should pay attention to Florida Statute 479.11(1), which prohibits any sign not state permitted within 660 feet of any interstate highway, such as I-95 or I-395. The city, as we all know, needs money to cover the waste and other misdeeds of its last set of officials, and they make money selling sign permits.
When city officials issue a building permit in error, they can revoke it and the owner must tear down the building. The city can move to have illegal signs removed, but will not do so. Maybe it's time to remove from office any city official who issues an illegal sign permit. We can call it willful malfeasance.
via the Internet
You Gotta Pay to Play
Regarding Jim Mullin's article "This Stadium Goes in This Park or Else!" (March 23), the real issue of a new baseball stadium is being muddled by the politicians. The most important issue is this: Should the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County directly or indirectly pay for a multimillionaire's baseball stadium so his millionaire players have a place to play?
In reality it should not concern the city how much a site will cost John Henry. Professional baseball is a business, and the cost of acquiring the land and building a stadium should be strictly his problem. With the examples of Micky Arison, Wayne Huizenga, and the Miami Arena still fresh, it's amazing that the idea of using public money to pay for a Marlins stadium is even being considered.
Furthermore to even insinuate that land in Park West is more valuable and costly than Bicentennial Park is an insult to everyone's intelligence. This is a setup to not only get valuable city land for free but eventually to bilk the taxpayers of Miami-Dade for the stadium's construction.
Maybe This Will Float Your Boat
The Florida Marlins management should come out of the clubhouse and look at the industry they're attempting to tax. In support of their new cruise-passenger tax, team officials are arguing that cruise lines do not contribute to the local economy. Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard, Seabourn, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Premier Cruises are all based in Miami-Dade County. Employees of these companies living in Miami-Dade and Broward contribute hundreds of millions of hard-earned payroll dollars to the local economy. These companies also fly millions of passengers into the area through Miami International Airport and embark the passengers at the Port of Miami. As part of local tour packages they put tens of thousands of passengers in local hotels each year.
Perhaps during the off-season, while the ballplayers are enjoying cruises booked by local travel agents, management should visit the Port of Miami and see the hundreds of taxis and buses servicing the port. Most of the cruise ships berthed in Miami have many tractor-trailer trucks meet them each week carrying millions of dollars of locally purchased provisions delivered by Miami-Dade resident drivers. These fees, fares, and bills are paid directly by passengers or by the cruise lines using cruise-ticket revenue.
Envision the outcry from the public if a local cruise line were to go to Tallahassee to ask for a new tax on baseball tickets -- say, four dollars per ticket, to be used to develop a megacruise ship. Why not? Many Miami-Dade residents go on cruises. The Marlins would be quick to cry foul. If Major League Baseball wants to develop a property in Miami-Dade, it should use its own resources. The issue begs the question: "Why don't the Marlins increase all ticket prices four dollars per seat to raise the necessary capital to invest in their own facility?"
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
Dealing for Dollars
Jose Luis Jiménez's "On the Block" (March 16) alerted all City of Miami taxpayers to the things their commissioners are asking staff to do. The first thing taxpayers should understand is that staffers like Erdal Donmez are hired to do certain jobs, such as planning and arranging sales based on what the commission directs them to do. Most of them do a very good job within the limits of the commissioners' requests. If they don't or can't follow these orders, they end up looking for a new job. So, good citizens, call your commissioners and tell them how happy you are.
I will note few things Jiménez missed. The first meeting held to "inform the public" about the city's intentions at the convention center was called by Dena Bianchino, a former top staffer. The people who were invited were few, and apparently called in to agree with the plans put together by the architect (not a marine architect).
When word got out, the city called a second meeting. By a stroke of luck, one of the members of the city's Waterfront Advisory Board heard about the meeting at the last minute and attended. He noted to Ms. Bianchino that she had not invited the board or the taxpayers who lived on their boats at Dinner Key Marina. Not a very good way to "inform the neighbors" around the convention center. Nor did the city invite anyone from the black community.
Several meetings later the attendees asked city planners to start again and invite an expert in marine architecture to do the work. The city agreed. While the architects offered a plan with roads and small shops or houses where the convention center now stands, another citizen offered that an ice-skating rink could be added to the existing building, providing a great deal of activity in the area and additional income to the city without destroying the building.
On to Bicentennial Park and the Port of Miami. All the people this writer has spoken with feel that our commissioners should not sell or lease what little park property we have left. Most particularly not waterfront property. The city's Waterfront Advisory Board voted for and sent a letter to commissioners recommending against a baseball stadium in Bicentennial Park.
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On Watson Island the cry to put cruise ships across Government Cut from the Port of Miami raises a serious question: Why does the port store empty cargo containers in an area that would hold three ships, and then want to spend taxpayer money to rent land on Watson Island?
This city is the fourth poorest in the nation because deals made with developers left it with the dirty end of the stick -- not because we have too many parks. It's probably time for the city attorney to look at all city leases to see where they could be improved to benefit the city for a change. Will this upset the chamber of commerce? You don't know how sad that makes me.
John A. Brennan
Editor's note: John Brennan is chairman of the city's Waterfront Advisory Board.