May I suggest that an advertising-supported publication like New Times should tread lightly when reporting on the standards of the telemarketing industry? The indignant tone of Tristram Korten's story about Richard Bronson ("Bull in the Market," September 10) and his alleged practices at Biltmore Securities gave me a good laugh. What, no drugs? No alcohol? Where is the sex?
Bronson's new magazine, Channel, will be in the marketplace trying to compete with New Times and every other media property. And Bronson has got bucks. Want some?
Our Famous Motto: Up with Drunks, Down with Cops
I have very strong doubts about the following cavalier headline that accompanied Kirk Nielsen's "A Collision Course" (September 10): "Drunk drivers are getting away with it these days." Hasn't Mr. Nielsen heard about the roadblocks and checkpoints that spring up all over Miami-Dade County on any given evening? Undoubtedly these have been one major reason for a reduction in DUI arrests. Drivers know that if they are under the influence, the price to pay can be monumental.
And doesn't New Times think all the warnings on radio and TV informing possibly inebriated individuals of the consequences -- huge fines, loss of driving rights, impounding of one's vehicle -- also make many of them think twice about overindulging? How about the ads for a designated driver among a group out on the town for an evening of partying? Don't these ads mean anything? Of course they do.
Why do columnists and newspapers in general take delight in trashing our police? Has New Times ever thought what it would be like not to have police in a community? That would be what we call anarchy!
Enough of this sensationalism.
Ronald C. Rickey
Miami Beach Politicos Shine on Ethics Test
Thank you Ted B. Kissell for the article "Parking and Politics" (September 3). It's time the truth is printed about the corruption between the towing companies and our elected officials in Miami Beach. Did these people ever take a class in ethics? You cannot prohibit private property owners from hiring their own parking enforcement.
Did they forget the past so easily? This is just another Thomas Kramer deal. I will remember this and vote against every one of these officials who will not allow businesses to compete in the same market.
I wish Tremont and Beach towing companies had to abide by the same rules Commissioner Nancy Liebman is requesting for Florida Parking Enforcement.
Public Facilities, Private Profits
Living in South Beach, I found "Parking and Politics" very interesting and very good. When I was living in Antibes (between Nice and Cannes in France), everybody knew the local towing company was the property of the mayor's wife. I guess he could not legally own it. My guess was there was so much money involved that everyone had to get his share.
Anyway, the reason I decided to write is because "Parking and Politics" reminded me of another problem related to parking in Miami Beach: valet parking businesses. Here is my question: Is it legal for privately owned companies to use public property such as curbside parking spaces in order to make money? How can they simply put a cover with a lock on the meter and transform a public facility into a private facility?
Ted B. Kissell replies: Private valet companies operating in Miami Beach pay a fee to the city for use of public parking spaces. Valets who use metered spaces for loading and unloading cars pay seven dollars per space per twelve-hour period. According to city parking director Jackie Gonzalez, metered spaces are used only rarely for storing valet-parked cars. Using a city-owned space for storage costs a valet company ten dollars per space per twelve-hour period. Gonzalez says the vast majority of valet companies store vehicles in private lots owned either by their client or leased from other private property owners (banks, for example). Two entities, the Delano Hotel and Celebrity Parking, lease spaces in the city's Seventeenth Street parking garage at the rate of $50 per space per month.
Gwen Gets the Pope, Neighbors Get the Shaft
After reading Ted B. Kissell's "Divine Right of Way" (September 3), I first thought he must have been munching on magic mushrooms when he implicated Miami-Dade County Commissioner Gwen Margolis in a plot to rob her constituents of the only waterfront green space in the Belmar neighborhood and give it to Archbishop John Favalora. Then I read that she'd had a private audience with the pope last summer arranged by -- you guessed it! It's quid pro quo as usual in Miami.
Our Parties, Our Parking, His Holy Problem
I am Carol Cord's husband. On Saturday evening, September 5, I noted that three parties were in progress in our Belmar neighborhood. I counted about 50 cars parked in the street which would not ordinarily be there (neighbors here park in their own driveways). I therefore cannot see any lack of parking for the party guests of Archbishop John C. Favalora, as has been claimed by the Archdiocese of Miami.
I have lived here for nineteen years. My immediate neighbors and I have had many parties in that time, and we have never had to have our guests park on the publicly owned bayfront lot next door to the archbishop. There have been some residents -- new to the area -- who have parked cars there in the past, but only once. They were quickly told by neighbors that this was unacceptable and they never did it again. Those "No Parking" signs were installed after 50 residents petitioned the county public works department.
The problem with the archbishop using this as a parking lot for his party guests is that if he uses it, everyone will have the right to use it and then the land will be abused. This is not what the majority of residents in my area want. More than 100 of them have made their desires known by signing a petition against it.
My wife has taken a lot of negative publicity about protecting this land for all the people who live here. This would not have happened had Mayor Alex Penelas or County Manager Merrett Stierheim done what was right instead of business as usual.
I cannot understand why Archbishop Favalora, being one of the most holy men in South Florida, would want to take this tiny green space away from neighbors who are less fortunate than he.
Arthur H. Bleich
Block That Barricade!
The subheadline for "Divine Right of Way" asks, "Why is Miami's archbishop using a piece of waterfront public land as his own personal property?" The answer provided: "Because he can." The correct answer is: Because most neighbors don't mind. Having Archbishop Favalora as a resident of our Belmar neighborhood is quite an asset. When touring the area with guests not acquainted with our community, his beautiful home stands out and is quite the honorary landmark.
I believe I am one of the petition signatories referred to in Mr. Kissell's article as wanting his name removed. The petition passed around our neighborhood by Carol Cord and her husband Arthur Bleich was to prevent "a problem at night with prostitutes and drug dealers" across from their house and next to the archbishop.
As it turns out, the true reason for this barricade request was that Cord and Bleich have an ongoing feud with neighbors, including the archbishop, about parking. Having taken them at their word, I and others unfortunately signed their petition under false pretenses.
This abuse of power and dishonesty should not be allowed. I am angered and embarrassed by the waste of our dedicated police force's time in answering calls in reference to Cord's animosity toward neighbors.
I for one do not want our beautiful view blocked by a barricade. If in the future the county and the archdiocese truly begin talks about deeding the land to adjacent neighbors, my name will gladly be on the petition to stop it from happening.
For now let's leave the archbishop in peace and let the adjacent neighbors use this land when and if necessary. If it's used once a month for a few hours, that still leaves us with 353 days a year of unbridled beauty just a few footsteps from our homes.
Ernest M. Gonzalez
South Beach, an Idyllic Teenage Utopia
I couldn't agree more with the views expressed by Neil Goldstein in his letter to the editor responding to Ted B. Kissell's article "The Fuss Over the Bus" (August 13). Washington Avenue in Miami Beach is transformed into a teenage zoo during the early-morning hours each weekend. Wake up, parents! Many of your fifteen- and sixteen-year-old kids are hanging out till dawn, disrupting the flow of traffic, using drugs in the open, and getting into fights in a part of town that is otherwise cleaning up its act.
This problem is certainly not unique to Miami Beach, though it seems to be aggravated by the fact that Washington Avenue nightclubs cater to the underage crowd. The economic benefits of jamming as many kids as possible into a club seem to far outweigh any sense of social responsibility these club owners may possess. Providing a safe place for youngsters to gather is definitely not a reality at 3:00 a.m.
I enjoy going out to South Beach and letting my out-of-town friends experience the exciting atmosphere found at many South Beach bars and clubs. This atmosphere should be carried over to the Washington Avenue area, where current underage clubs could be transformed into places that locals and tourists would be happy to frequent. Right now many people avoid Washington Avenue like the plague, and I for one do not want this trend to continue or spill over into surrounding areas of South Beach.
Michele to Rob: Gay, Straight, Whatever -- I'll Bitch About Anybody
After I wrote a letter in reaction to Ted B. Kissell's cover article "Size Matters" (August 13), Rob Boyte responded with his own letter. Now I just want to set the record straight.
I certainly do not think for a second that gay men are the only ones obsessed with physical appearance. Many straight women and men are obsessed as well, as evidenced by the huge surge in plastic surgery (just flip through a copy of this New Times). I do not condone that either.
Conversely, I agree that there are many people who are not all about looks. My letter simply addressed the article, which focused on the gay community. When an article is written about straight men who use steroids to pump up their self-esteem, or about the down-to-earth crowd who could care less, I will write a letter about that as well.
And a P.S. to Rob: I do get it.