Letters from the Issue of April 1, 2004

Behind the Scenes at Miami-Dade Public Schools

Weird dealings, Ralph Arza, and other scary things: In response to Rebecca Wakefield's article about state Rep. Ralph Arza ("Meet Mr. Arza," March 25), I say thank God for New Times and especially for Ms. Wakefield's ability to investigate and write. Her stories are easy to read and contain a lot of facts the average person would not know or have the time to research. She does a great service to our community.

There are a lot of very busy, well-intentioned people who work hard for Miami's public schools but are not aware of the weird dealings going on behind the scenes. Stories like hers, scary but also motivating, open our eyes and make us want to do more, not for our own gain or for special interests but for those who need our help: the students and our teachers.

Esther Castiglia

Coral Gables

Newspaper Flirts

with Ruination

Free weekly's new potty-mouth columnist spells doom: I enjoy New Times very much and I do not want to stop reading it. But I was very offended to come across a new column called "The Bitch" (March 25). I should be able to pick up a newspaper without the expectation of seeing foul language. In this venue, the F-word is totally unacceptable, but it too appeared in "The Bitch."

Other than "The Bitch" and its ridiculous attempt at getting attention, the newspaper is a great piece of work. Please don't ruin it.

Lance Wampler

Miami Beach

Storm in the Shelter

No wonder she lost her dog -- she wasn't there: I visited the Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter every day during my dog's "extended vacation," so I read with interest the "Dog Gone" story by Kirk Nielsen (March 18). But I found the article lacking.

The Miami-Dade Police Department's Animal Services Unit deserves more credit than the article gave it, and Lazara Betancourt, who lost her dog Ambrosio, deserves more blame. The shelter is crowded, smelly, and undersupplied, but it is the only animal shelter in the county that will take any animal immediately. Private shelters in Miami-Dade and Broward have waiting lists in excess of six weeks. Our local shelter is not funded by taxes but relies on fees, donations, and volunteers to support itself.

The Miami-Dade staff, despite the stress of working at the busiest shelter in South Florida, provides superior customer service, but owing to the busy nature of the office -- lines around the corner, many people talking at once, a mélange of dogs and cats in the lobby -- I understand how the Ambrosio mix-up happened. However, I do not understand why Ms. Betancourt did not notify the shelter that she would pick up her animal upon her release from the hospital, something well within their policy, rather than cause the confusion of two aborted pickups, which I'm sure contributed to Ambrosio's mislabeling and most likely reprocessing into the system as a stray and subsequent adoption.

Visiting the shelter every day from January 19 through February 14, I did not observe dozens of animals being euthanized. The only ones I noted being put to sleep were those with untreatable conditions, such as the basset hound dying from cancer. Even in the rooms for the sick and injured, where I visited each day, I noticed animals like the hairless Labrador being nursed back to health and released into the adoptable sections. The shelter's policy is clearly stated on its Website: "The Animal Services Unit is committed to adopting animals and will hold animals until adopted, or as long as they remain healthy."

Carsie Launey


There Are Midwives and There Are Midwives

Not all are trained equally, as expectant mothers should know: I am an RN who works in labor and delivery, and I read Celeste Fraser Delgado's article "Cuts You Up" (March 18) with great interest. It appears she is trying to educate the public about their choices in childbirth, for which I commend her, as knowledge is power. But I am concerned that she has attempted to do so in a biased and very dangerous way.

She fails to mention why Janessa Wasserman had a c-section with her first son, and implies it was unnecessary, stating that she was "failing to progress." Yet the fact that she had an internal fetal monitor indicates there must have been signs throughout her labor of some sort of fetal distress. Being an attorney, what would Mrs. Wasserman have done if the c-section was not done and she had delivered a baby with severe brain damage owing to lack of timely intervention? I think we all know the answer to that question.