Letters to the Editor

Letters for February 2, 2001

 All aboard the Florida mystery tour: Mr. Dockery has the right idea, but the wrong technology ("Train in Vain," Bob Whitby, January 25). The bullet train needs to be a MAG-LEV (magnetic levitation) train. The current development of the "bullet" train is long overdue. The status of research and design in the auto and aviation industries has been stagnant for years. An appropriate question would be: Where were we 20 years ago?

In the '70s, people were doing 70 to 75 miles per hour on the Interstate. Out west some states had no speed limit. Today cars boast better electronics packages and stereos, but most yearly design changes are largely cosmetic. The last really new engine change was the development of the Wankel. Car technology is basically stagnant, similar to the horse in the 1800s.

Aviation has had no real blockbuster since the 747. We now see smaller fuselages powered by 747 engines. Supersonic transport is almost dead or gone with the wind. The construction of a new airport has taken on the flavor of a competition: "My airport is newer and larger than your airport" (a.k.a. Dallas­Fort Worth and Denver). Of course, if only local government funded them, they would probably be smaller; federal dollars lead to grand schemes.

In many urban areas like Miami, the room to build interstates or add lanes is rapidly disappearing. Miami's expressways are anything but expressways. As one person put it, "Why do we call it rush hour if nobody can move?" The idea of HOV lanes is a failure; all it takes is one slow driver or one vehicle in poor condition, and traffic slows far below the 55 miles-per-hour speed limit.

The MAG-LEV train is the only really new mode of transportation on the horizon. The problem is the perception of the train as archaic. The bullet train should function as a ferry. You get to use your car for the short haul and let the train do the long haul at speeds of 250 miles per hour. That means a trip to Orlando from Miami will only take one hour, or about the same amount of time as flying.

The key thing to remember is MAG-LEV trains are designed for the long haul. If they are to be profitable, that is how they must be used. The first state to build one will have a major jump on the rest of the nation in job opportunities, transportation, and industrial growth. I first crunched the numbers on this in 1984, but the situation has not changed. The single problem in the building of the MAG-LEV is that it requires leadership. Without a leader it will be studied to death.

Glen R. Cook
Coral Springs

This surfer boy is no redneck: In "Surfin' DOA" by Emily Bliss (January 25), I was quoted as saying, "Fishermen are just a bunch of rednecks." What I really believe is, all fishermen are NOT rednecks. When asked why a fisherman on a pier would try to snag a surfer, I responded that one reason might be that the fisherman is a redneck.

As a surfer and water man, I fish, snorkel, and sail. As a member of the Surfrider Foundation, I am concerned with the protection of the world's oceans and beaches for the enjoyment of all people and for all recreational activities that don't destroy the coastal environment.

Surfers in Dania asked me to help them gain access to more beach when conditions are right. Surfing is a popular and legitimate recreational activity, just as swimming and fishing are; but in urban coastal areas like Broward and Miami-Dade, there is often conflict. The members of Surfrider Foundation were trying to help Dania surfers work out this conflict to the satisfaction of all parties.

This is not the first time surfers have been needlessly restricted from surfing in an area where conditions are such that surfing would not pose any danger to the public. In cases like this, some communities have allowed the beach patrol to determine if an area of beach can be opened for surfing. The limits need to be clearly marked, and surfers must control each other. This way they will gain the trust of the beach patrol, so more and more areas will be opened to surfing. Otherwise surfers will be confined to small, overcrowded zones, probably where the waves suck. And they will have only themselves to blame. In Juno Beach an acceptable plan for surfing in a guarded area was worked out with surfers, fishermen, and local authorities. There the locals do self-patrol the break. Visitors are educated, and the regulations can continue to be judiciously enforced.

The same can happen in Dania. But surfers must organize to gain credibility with authorities. Otherwise they can expect the kind of response the mayor gave. Like fishermen, surfers come in all sizes and types. They must work to overcome the stereotype and confront ignorance with intelligence and commitment. This will work with fishermen, and it might even have a chance with politicians.

Wyatt Porter-Brown
via the Internet

High-society drama: This letter is in reply to the three letters appearing in New Times on January 4. I find it interesting that the authors of all three missives chose to attack individuals and ignore the main subject of the article, which is the relationship between the Broward County Archaeological Society, Inc. (BCAS), and the Graves Museum of Archaeology and Natural History.

Dr. Edward Petuch and Mr. Bob Whitby do not need me to defend them. It amazes me that someone who, by her own admission, is new to the area and has only visited the museum twice can make so many supposedly knowledgeable statements. The author of the first letter does not deserve a response, since he did not have the courage to sign his name.

I would like now to say something about the position of the BCAS, Inc.'s relation (or lack thereof) to the Graves Museum. The BCAS, Inc., has excavated every major archaeological site in Broward County since 1959. Combine our finds with the collections that have been donated to the society, and you have an extensive collection of artifacts. It was never the intention of the BCAS, Inc., to give up all rights, title, and ownership of the artifacts and collections of the society.

When the society raised objections to the bylaws, our attorney, Karl Adler, told us to go ahead and approve them -- we could change them later. In hindsight we recognize this advice represented a conflict of interest since he was representing both sides of the question.

We have repeatedly tried to solve our differences by opening a dialogue with the Graves Museum. At the request of the then-president of the Board of Governors, Skip Johnson, we sent a formal request to the museum asking for a meeting. This request was ignored. It is very difficult to solve problems if one of the parties will not sit down and discuss the problems.

I would now like to address the attack on Gypsy Graves. I find this to be the most offensive part of the letters. Gypsy Graves is one of the most ethical, moral, and honest people I have ever met. It was her vision that started the museum in 1980. No, Gypsy did not know how to run a museum at that point. She set out to learn how to do it by acquiring publications from the American Association of Museums and talking with other museum professionals. The board of governors did not even know about the Museum Assessment Program until Gypsy made them aware of it. She is a truly special person who has the unique ability to make ordinary people believe they can do extraordinary things.

The Graves Museum will stand as a testament to Gypsy, who is at her best when she is teaching the schoolchildren of South Florida. The accusation was made that the BCAS, Inc., is against schoolchildren in the museum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children and museums go hand in hand. I spent my childhood attending classes at the Museum of Science in Miami. This experience taught me the importance of education in museums and the need for balance between education and scientific research. There is no such balance at the Graves Museum.

In conclusion I would like to issue a challenge to the Board of Governors. I am willing to sit down and discuss our problems at any time. I make only two stipulations: that our attorney be present at any meeting and that any resolution that comes from this meeting be put into writing, signed by both parties.

It is not the wish of the BCAS, Inc., to take legal action against a museum whose members both past and present worked so long and so hard to establish it. It is our hope that our differences can be settled in an amicable fashion so that the museum may continue to grow. We only wish to have the rights and privileges that were granted to us within the bylaws of the Graves Museum.

Patricia K. Flynn, President
Broward County Archaeological Society, Inc.
via the Internet

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