Letters from the Issue of June 13, 2002

Of Ramp Rats and Cheap Men

What do you mean only in Miami? Well, maybe: That was an amazing story by Kathy Glasgow about ramp workers and what they take from your luggage ("Ramp Rats' Revenge," May 30). I have to accept the veracity of your story and interviews, but it's shocking nonetheless. I worked as a ramp agent and baggage handler for an airline here in Portland, Oregon (for the busiest airline at the airport), but not once did I come across incidents of theft and pilferage. I'm not saying it never happened, but in the insular atmosphere of that airport I think I would have heard. Of course, even though we weren't represented by a union, we were paid and treated better than the immigrants mentioned in your article.

A reporter from the Wall Street Journal just interviewed me about this very same issue, except her angle was more about how to prevent theft. I hope this subject blows up and exposes the thieves while at the same time calling for airline and airport accountability in their security.

Skip Elliott Bowman

Portland, Oregon

Misplaced Baggage

Right airline, wrong nation: Nice piece on the ramp rats at Miami International Airport. However, for your information, Lauda Air is an Austrian carrier, not a German one.

Christopher Elliott

Key Largo

A Right Hook

You guys don't pull no punches: I enjoyed John Lombardi's column "Tyson Agonistes" ("High Anxiety," June 6). His conversation with Tyson's "constituents" was right on target in clarifying the social context of this fight. It's precisely this context that makes the match interesting and worth watching. Other reporters are missing this point. Thanks for being brilliant.

D. Kelleher

Norfolk, Virginia

Wake Up and Smell the Suppression

Do you know your rights, or what a police state is? I am just now getting around to reading Alfredo Triff's article "Anatomy of Suppression" (May 23). We are now living in a police state. Why are artists starving? Because they cannot express themselves. They cannot show their work. Does any of this sound familiar? Fascist Italy? Fascist Germany? I had a show back in January with the title "Gartel: Fetish" -- after just two weeks the doors were locked and the art taken off the wall. No explanation from the gallery, and now Gallery Yes in Fort Lauderdale is closed. Strange.

If everyone in America thinks that falling into line, waving a flag, and saying "War on Terrorism" is a good thing, they are sadly mistaken. Our phones and Internet are being monitored, and other civil liberties are being removed. Those that just go to work, pay their taxes, and live in a box will go untouched as they were asleep anyway. They are harmless. It is the rest of us with individual ideas, concepts, and attitudes who are in danger. That article has outraged me beyond belief. It's time for me to pull out my deepest and most pathetic thoughts about Disneyland, I mean America. And it's time for others to wake up.

Laurence Gartel

Boca Raton

Wake Up and Smell the Stink

The problem isn't a police state, it's the state of the police: Regarding Mike Clary's story "The Hot Seat" (May 23) -- congratulations and a heartfelt thanks to Pepe Cancio for reminding us what public service was intended to be. I am truly sorry he is only a "designated hitter" and not interested in holding a permanent position on the county commission. In this place someone professing "re-establishing public faith, accountability, and less government" usually has sold his soul to some special-interest group to get elected. Boy, could we use someone like him on the Miami City Commission.

I have been a member of the Miami Police Department for more than 22 years, and like 99 percent of my fellow officers I protect and serve the community with pride and integrity and have never been indicted, arrested, or disciplined for anything other than minor infractions of the uniform code of conduct. When I joined, Kenneth Harms was the chief, and the department was ranked as one of the top agencies in the nation. We were progressive, innovative, and used cutting-edge technology (we were one of the first departments to use computers in vehicles; we had the first computerized fingerprint reader in the state).

Unfortunately for us during the last 23 years, aside from having become a political football, we have had seven police chiefs (the average life span for this job is 2.7 years) and I can't remember how many mayors. We can only dream of having the union and leadership that Miami-Dade has, as evidenced during the civilian-review-board debacle.

During the same time period Miami-Dade and its police enjoyed the stability of having three exceptional mayors and three police chiefs who were allowed to guide their agency on a very progressive path. Likewise the Miami-Dade officers are fortunate to have a union leader like John Rivera representing them. He is a bulldog in every sense of the word and protects his officers as if they were his children, without regard to personal repercussions.

We have problems; I can't deny that. Every department does. But we are like a boat without a rudder in stormy seas. Sadly, without leadership and with the continued corrupt interference from the politicians, I seriously doubt that the department -- or for that matter the city -- will last another ten years. For now I want the citizens of my city (I was born and raised in Miami) to know that the majority of those officers they see patrolling the streets every day, rain or shine, are looking out for the citizens' best interests, contrary to what a very vocal minority would like them to believe. We swore an oath, we live and much too often die enforcing it. We do it because it is what we believe in.

Name Withheld by Request


You Say Tomato, I Say Boring

All right! Something fresh from the food department: Intense review by Pamela Robin Brandt of Red Thai Room ("My Kind of Thai," May 30). Nice to see how our local ethnic establishments rate versus the real McCoy of their homelands. Quite a change from the tired critique in the form of, "Well, I had the steak, which was cooked properly. But the chicken with sun-dried tomatoes was dry, and you still can't find parking." I guess the last call before "kudos to you" is to dine alfresco at this new joint and see how the grub is for myself!

Jeremy P. Clauser


Love That Flapjack Humor

Waiter, there's a spy into my pancakes: Just dropping a note of thanks to Lee Klein for his wonderful column, and especially for his "Second Annual Flapjack Flip-off" of May 23. My pet peeve is also over real maple syrup and real butter -- and the lack thereof. He hit the nail on the head! I can't recall the last time I had such a good time reading and laughed so hard! His critique and humor are great. Keep writing 'cause I'm out here reading, eating, and laughing.

Beatriz Reyes

Coral Gables

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