Letters to the Editor

Screwing up the Center
Years behind schedule and way over budget, the performing arts center is another Miami miracle
By Jose Luis Jiménez

One Performing Arts Center on Sourdough, Hold the Applause
The only benefit I got from Jose Luis Jiménez's "Screwing Up the Center" (February 10) was learning that the Manhattan Café has a really great turkey-and-Brie sandwich. I checked out the place after reading the article.

As far as the rest of it, I fear the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami is already headed down the pathway that leads to the Miami Arena fiasco.

Bill DelGrosso

Fine Young Cannibals
The reporters providing us coverage of Elian Gonzalez seem to recognize they're taking part in a shark feed. And they just keep chomping.
By Jacob Bernstein

A Former Clown in the Media Circus
As a former television reporter whose stories included the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, I got a scary sense of dejá vù reading Jacob Bernstein's "Fine Young Cannibals" (February 10). The "media circus" outside the home of Elian Gonzalez's relatives is the kind of thing that made me walk away from the business. Every so often it's nice to have some reinforcement for the decision.

The term media circus, by the way predates broadcasting by a generation or two. Speed Graphic cameras, after all, were the first to be banned from courtrooms. But television has elevated the circus to new heights.

Mike Carpenter
San Antonio, Texas

Maniacs on Parade (Again)
I have silently watched the raging spectacle surrounding little Elian Gonzalez, as described in "Fine Young Cannibals," and I'm shocked, sickened, and shamed by the incredible degree of hypocrisy and duplicity displayed in Havana as well as Miami. Locally I have seen our president vociferously labeled a coward in recent demonstrations by a bunch of old men who were only too willing to pack their bags and seek refuge in America rather than fight Castro's tyranny on their native soil. Who really is the coward? How dare we Cubans bite the hands that saved us? Have we no self-respect?

I have seen an innocent child, still wet from the ocean, paraded around and posed with a bunch of carpetbaggers and opportunists who took Castro's bait and made the child's plight an instant political contest rather than the simple family question it is.

I also have seen a supposedly democratic exile community, which rightly condemns the way communism dismembers families, quite willing for their own political ends to sever this child's vital links to those who raised him. To do so they have jumped through many hoops, fashioning scenarios in their own minds that will justify this misdeed. Well, they have again succeeded with this singular personal tragedy in portraying the exile community as fanatical and materialistic. More important they have handed Castro a public-relations victory at a time when his abuses were getting world attention. It's ironic how these self-appointed leaders of the exile community repeatedly dance to Castro's tune. Even more so, how many in this community blindly follow, as if living under a totalitarian system.

At the end of this whole spectacle, which Castro hopes will never end, Elian will be returned to his father and grandmothers, where he belongs. Unfortunately the cause of democracy and human rights in Cuba will suffer, as Castro has achieved a few New Year's goals he never envisioned: a worldwide makeover as a genuine "family man," consolidation of power previously eroded, and the opportunity to move ruthlessly and with impunity against the dissident movement on the island, now that the world is distracted.

As with the perpetuation of the embargo, which has given him a lifelong excuse, Castro can thank the clique of shortsighted "leaders" in this community. I'm sure he recognizes that he couldn't pay for better help in ensuring his retention of power.

Frank Perez, Jr.

Cue the Sobs and Tears
I sincerely hope things work out for Elian. I hope his separation from his father finally comes to an end. I hope Rick Sanchez wins a Pulitzer Prize and moves away. But most of all I hope the media stops interviewing "El Cid" and "Mary Lazy Ass," the crying cousins. I am damn sick and tired of their contrived emotions, which overflow on cue.

David Magnusson

Editor's note: Once again we have received far more correspondence regarding our coverage of Elian Gonzalez than we have space to publish. In the interest of encouraging reader response, we have posted everything in our Web Extra section.

Of Tuscan Steak We Sing
We were quite dismayed at Susan Pierres's less-than-stellar review of our favorite South Florida restaurant, Tuscan Steak ("Tuscan Steak, Florida Style," February 10). As South Beach residents for fifteen years, we have sampled the entire smorgasbord of local dining establishments. Without question Tuscan is the best for the following reasons:

First, the food. We have never had a bad meal there, and we go frequently, for special occasions or just to have a great dinner. The "Tuscan steak," or T-bone, is always luscious, tender, tasty, juicy, and cooked exactly as ordered. We've been to Italy a number of times and have never tasted Italian meat as good as Tuscan's. The salads and sides are so yummy we never know how to limit ourselves to two choices. Let's not even mention the white-truffle garlic bread and dessert, which are mouthwatering just to think about. As to price, contrary to Ms. Pierres's implication, we find Tuscan to be a very good value. The portions are perfectly suited for two and are priced to sell. An educated diner knows how to order.

Second, the service. It would be difficult to imagine a friendlier, more responsive crew, from the doorman's warm handshake and sparkling greetings from the hostesses to the efficient and attentive waitstaff eager to please.

Finally, management. Tuscan is run by a team of professionals who appreciate the community. Locals are accommodated even during the height of the season in recognition, perhaps, of our loyalty at other times. Nonprofit groups hold large events at Tuscan Steak because management works within their sometimes limited budgets to provide a perfect venue and menu.

In our experience Tuscan Steak is without equal and bears little resemblance to Pierres's hypercritical review.

Merle and Daniel Weiss
Miami Beach

Not for Sale ... Exactly
Mayoral hopeful Marty Shapiro bills himself as the anti-development candidate for Miami Beach. Problem is, he's not.
By Ted B. Kissell

Shapiro Exonerated!
Five days before the November 2, 1999, Miami Beach mayoral election, New Times ran a cover story by Ted B. Kissell ("Not for Sale ... Exactly," October 28, 1999) attacking me for having an undisclosed conflict of interest in doing legal work for a condominium association while I was opposing 1) development of the Mirabella condominium project at 60th Street and Collins Avenue, 2) mandatory retrofitting of older high-rise condominiums with sprinklers, and 3) a commercial-impact tax on condominiums. It was the same line that my opponent Neisen Kasdin was espousing.

I filed to run against Kasdin on September 9, 1999. The very next day a complaint was filed against me with the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging the exact same conflict-of-interest story Kasdin and New Times would later promote. It is interesting to note that commission proceedings are confidential until an investigation is completed. Now we learn that the complaint came from some person from Cooper City, Florida. How does someone from Cooper City become an overnight expert on Miami Beach government? Obviously he was a Kasdin shill.

On December 16, 1999, the executive director of the Commission on Ethics concluded her report by saying, "I recommend that this complaint be found legally insufficient and be dismissed without investigation." On January 27, 2000, the commission accepted the analysis of its executive director and issued a "Public Report and Order Dismissing Complaint." The case is closed.

I want it to be a matter of record that I was exonerated. The election-eve allegations of conflict of interest by New Times and Kasdin were found by the Commission on Ethics to be unworthy of investigation.

Martin Shapiro
Miami Beach


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