Letters for February 21, 2002

Hip-hoppin' mad

History relived, not relieved:I want to thank you for Jeff Stratton's excellent article, "A House Surrounded" (February 7). The history of Fort Lauderdale has been decimated by the developers who come and leave our county with barrels full of money. Our historical buildings and houses are all but gone. I have worked in downtown Fort Lauderdale at the courthouse for over 30 years and it's a shame what has happened. I call Las Olas "Stiles Canyon" now. Your picture hit it right on the head.

One comment: An article appeared some time back in Undercurrents (October 4, 2000) concerning the area where the school board is in Sailboat Bend, the really historic part of town. There's a little monument about the "Harmon Trust" and the gift of the area as a park.

Thanks again for your super article.

George Duncan
Fort Lauderdale

Editor's note: The Broward County School Board has been negotiating to sell the Sailboat Bend property to Lennar Homes. So far no deal has been reported.

Bush and the good book:Your two four-panel cartoons in the January 31 New Times touch on the "powers that be in D.C." The Enron debacle will be Dubya's Watergate. It's obvious our vice president, Dick Cheney, also figures in this scandal. Kmart is feeling the blues, and more big corporations will be exposed for deceiving stockholders while executives enrich themselves with insider moves.

"The City" 'toon bemoans the very real "friendly fire" that has killed more of us and Afghans than enemy fire. Dubya's "or else" threats if Saddam, Iran, North Korea, and 57 other terrorist outposts don't give up are obviously empty bluffing. Dubya's dad didn't get re-elected because he didn't finish off Iraq when we were positioned to do it.

I admit to being a W.A.S.P. and believe that Bible predictions are coming true during these "end times."

Marvin Doudna
West Palm Beach

Pignone points out...:Regarding January 24 Bandwidth: I explained to Jeff Stratton that the reason for not putting out my chairs and tables on Sunday nights was because the "attendees" were bringing their own booze and smoking pot at my tables. Stratton chose not to mention this point. When my doorman would tell them it's not allowed, the favored response was for him to go fuck himself. So, rather than put the doorman in a dangerous situation, I decided not to put the tables out.

Stratton is not that thorough in his reporting. I just don't think Stratton has the experience to do something as sensitive as this story, to explain why. There has never been any accusation of anybody not being allowed or not being served in any bar downtown because of color. Nor has there been violence between black and white in the village area. No other bar has been questioned about its take on Sunday nights, yet after one visit for a couple hours Stratton is ready to proclaim a race relations problem in the downtown area. Keep in mind that all this is taking place amongst the Chili Pepper attendees, yet Jeff chooses to start his article with the race card thing through a series of misquotes and fabrications.

Let me take one quote from Jeff's article, which has me pretty pissed off for its lack of sensitivity: "After an hour of not being shot or stabbed (and being the only white specks inside) ..." What is he implying? That there's no violence taking place on Sunday nights? That these stories are made up? Maybe he should have documented the exact hour he was there, so the person who did get shot or the people who did get stabbed or the people who got beaten or the women who got harassed would know what hour is safe. One hour and he's got it all figured out.

Then out comes the second article (Bandwidth, January 31), where Jeff states that 43 times police had been dispatched since August. Let's see, 6 times 4, 24! Yeah that's about two calls a Sunday. To quell rowdiness? Why not just state some of the crimes? I'm sure there's a number of your readers who would love to know. 43 times! 43 times! Jeff writes that number is not out of line. Where? In Palestine?

Why, Jeff, do you feel that you have to take shots at the white people who enjoy the area? Why do you make it personal, instead of impartial? Oh yeah, you don't know what you're doing.

Robert Pignone
via the Internet

Jeff Stratton responds: Mr. Pignone is mistaken on several points. First, I stated in my column that I had personally witnessed Chili Pepper patrons drinking bottles of their own liquor on his patio. And no one in the article was misquoted. Mr. Pignone even admitted during a subsequent conversation that his quotes were all verbatim. I challenge him to specify what he considers "fabricated."

...and an anonymous knucklehead backs 'im:I found Jeff Stratton's story rude and unacceptable. I know both Bobby [Pignone] and Duncan [Cameron], and your reporter managed to make them both sound petty and obnoxious. I have a strong feeling that most of the things said were taken out of context. I'm sure Bobby did get upset and raise his voice to your reporter.

Is Bobby losing money because of the new Sunday night events? He probably is. Hello? He is a business owner; this is his life, and he is losing money -- of course he's angry. Not nearly the number of paying customers show up on Sundays as they used to -- especially after the night that girl was shot. And yes, I was there that night, fooling myself that it must have been a firecracker and not a gunshot. Silly me! After all, I have been a patron of the Poor House since it first opened and have never heard that before. Then again, maybe it was bound to happen sometime, hip-hop night or not.

Either way, Mr. Stratton made South Florida sound like the racist capital of the world and made the Poor House sound like there are a bunch of narrow-minded people who work and hang out there.

Maybe Duncan went a little too far in bringing this story to New Times. Then again, like all of us, he has a right to his opinion. Good for him for speaking his mind. What upset me most about the article is that Stratton made them both sound ridiculous. Stratton, of course, has a right to his own opinion also, but I believe it would have been best if he told the story without making everyone involved sound racist!

Poor House Patron
Fort Lauderdale

'Cuz he doesn't want to:Kathy Glasgow's December 20 article, "The Perils of Marilise," is a testament to the necessity of the United States adopting serious immigration reform. Is the reader supposed to feel sorry for this irresponsible crackhead? Because Marilise supposedly gave allegiance to the Tonton Macoutes, a very nasty bunch, I as a taxpayer should become responsible for her poor decisions? I don't think so!

Let's add up the interventions on behalf of this woman that have cost us taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars: the Coast Guard ship that intercepted her, the processing at Krome Detention Center, the legal bills, the police investigations that have resulted from her "poor decisions," the medical bills for her suicide attempts and mental problems, as well as the three babies that she has brought into the world, no doubt at public expense. Enough already! My mother has no insurance because she cannot pay the $600 per month COBRA payments following her layoff, but my tax dollars pay for this nonsense! I am over it. Illegal immigrant means illegal; send her back, and then send her relatives the bill.

David Horstman
North Miami

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