Letters

Fireman Tom is a Friend, Not a Fiend
The abuse of power by Sgt. Robert Artola of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department cannot be tolerated in a civilized society ("Presumed Guilty," Bob Whitby, May 13). His disregard for human rights and willingness to destroy innocent adult human beings in the interest of protecting innocent children is inexcusable. (Note: The recent spree of school shootings put to rest the myth of "innocent children.")

Thomas Tornatore, on the other hand, is innocent. The only thing he is guilty of is being gay. While Tornatore was instructing children on the importance of fire safety and being a friend to them, Sergeant Artola, on the other hand, was lurking around schools planting seeds of fear, suspicion, and mistrust in the fragile minds of children. What Sergeant Artola was doing to kids is worse than child rape!

At a time when I'd like to believe that our nation is not in a "police state," a monster like Sergeant Artola comes along and proves me wrong.

William Whittier
Boynton Beach

Arnold Gives Sustenance to Marti
Perhaps your story should have been titled "Man's Inhumanity to the Humane" or "Good Guys Aren't Wanted" ("A Homeless Soup Kitchen?" Paul Belden, May 13). Marti Forman's acute frustration is shared by many of us who provide food and necessities of life to the homeless who have chosen Broward County as their home. Conversely, with 700 trespassing arrests (primarily for sleeping on God's good earth when there is no other place) to their credit, the police are having a right good time harassing them and chasing [the homeless] from place to place.

Marti and others of us who are unfunded or mostly underfunded work in the trenches without magnificent buildings but still manage to provide that which people without homes need the most -- food, food, food! It is absolutely amazing how many grants completely dismiss the need for that most basic of human needs.

When Tent City was extant for five years, neither the city nor the county spent one nickel on food for the homeless. If it weren't for 14 unfunded volunteer organizations preparing and serving good, wholesome meals twice daily seven days a week, the homeless would have languished in their three-by-seven-foot spaces and slowly starved to death. Volunteers also provided blankets, hygiene products, and human warmth. Nothing from officials, except occasional brutality by guards.

Fort Lauderdale has deservedly earned the sobriquet "the city without a heart." Broward County, by putting zoning roadblocks in the way of Marti Forman's building plans to provide a wide variety of social services obviously needed, is fast earning them the same kind of nationwide reputation. Presently, in addition to Marti's six-days-a-week morning feedings, there are only two volunteer nightly feedings available for Broward's 6000 homeless (Wednesday and Thursday) because stringent zoning laws preclude most available sites from being used. No outdoor feedings are allowed and of hundreds of churches, only two are approved for feeding. All others must go through the zoning board, which takes years and always has the same negative outcome.

Marti Forman is a gem to be treasured, not a person whose work is treated as unimportant and not worthy of funding by those in power, who are obviously blind to what is going on all around them. The homeless are still here, but those of us who maintain daily contact with them can see how rapidly they are deteriorating, physically and mentally, since the February 12 closing of Tent City.

A successor "safe zone" is desperately needed, and I am certain, in time will be mandated by court order. But in the meantime people are suffering needlessly because angels like Marti Forman are hamstrung and not allowed to do what government should be responsible for but is unwilling to provide.

Arnold Abbott
Fort Lauderdale

 
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