Letters for May 22, 2003

A classic polemic

The fear factor:I have read only selected highlights of Jeff Stratton's recent article concerning the Florida Philharmonic (Bandwidth, May 15), but that was enough to let me know that he is a man who sees clearly his own future. He must be very aware that the written word and reading are next on the cultural hit list, so he's afraid for his own living and perhaps concerned that the world would be a poorer place without reading.

Think about it.

Chris Ertell

The Richmond Symphony

Richmond, Virginia

Low-blowing? You mean a bassoon? Jeff Stratton's article of May 15 on the musicians of the Florida Philharmonic epitomizes the "low blow." How shocking that he was able to find a few unhappy quotes from musicians witnessing the collapse of the institution to which they have dedicated their careers. Yet he dares to characterize as an "attitude problem" the drive that made them "practice and sweat and bleed for a noble profession." Would that everyone had such an "attitude problem." Better to place the blame where it lies -- with those community leaders who failed to respond to orchestra chairman Daniel Lewis' generous offer to donate $16 million to "match" $4 million in leadership donations.

Henry Peyrebrune

Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Farewell to journalists:I have just read the May 15 article written by Jeff Stratton about the philharmonic's final concert. I have news for Mr. Stratton. The profession that is about to become irrelevant in this world is not classical musician... it is print journalist. In a world with no reverence for classical music, there will also be no place for those who read or those who pretend that they can write.

As a retired symphonic musician with a career of 35 years behind me, I can tell you that musicians have always struggled to find an appreciative audience. And yet the beauty of symphonic music draws millions of people around the world. I hope that the musicians in the philharmonic will find more secure positions in other places. They deserve to work where the city, the music critic, and the management really appreciate them. Obviously, none of those things is true in South Florida.

Rosemary Rader

Indianapolis, Indiana

Best Congrats is: On behalf of the whole team at Hamburger Mary's, I just wanted to thank New Times for the recognition as Best Gay Bar in Broward County ("Best of 2003," May 15). We have been working very hard to make Hamburger Mary's a fun and welcoming environment, and it excites us to receive such great accolades. The write-up was superb! We look forward to becoming an even bigger part of the South Florida scene.

John Zieba

Wilton Manors

With a neighborhood twist:Susan Eastman's recent story "Where the Condos Are" (May 8) was a very insightful, well-written, and thought-provoking piece. Our sincere hope is that New Times returns again to this interesting theme and continues its exploration of other Fort Lauderdale development issues in future articles.

One story idea might be the Balkanization of the city into what can seem to be quasi-autonomous, private fiefdoms masquerading as neighborhood associations. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission formally recognizes 37 such voluntary neighborhood organizations.

Through the proliferation of these associations, the city funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants catering to the interests of certain neighborhoods as something apart from the city as a whole, rather than committing to a comprehensive, cohesive, and cogent master plan for the entire city.

Do we really need to see "Victoria Park, Poinsettia Heights, Lake Ridge, Progresso, et al." neighborhood entrance signs and ersatz guardhouses that give each neighborhood the appearance of a gated community rather than a creative planned effort to connect each neighborhood to the collective city entity?

Why does the city abdicate its governing role and administrative power to these unelected self-anointed, self-interested, self-important groups of people who take it upon themselves to speak for an entire neighborhood? Where are the city's highly compensated urban planners? Why are they sitting idly by as Fort Lauderdale devolves into a crazy quilt of cross-purpose imaginary neighborhoods?

Neighborhood groups are unregulated, unrepresentative, unmonitored, and unaccountable. A handful of self-appointed individuals calls itself the board of directors and usurps the place of our legally voted representatives. The groups promote agendas that often have not been properly vetted or supported by the entire neighborhood in whose name they purportedly are acting.

I want my city and neighborhood development decisions to be made by my city commissioners with a sense of rhyme and reason, not by a neighborhood-association president who is driven by personal whims and an idiosyncratic personal agenda.

Laura Sturaitis

Fort Lauderdale

Just a number:I am the niece of Charlie Lee Osborne, and am pleased with Trevor Aaronson's May 8 story ("Death Road"). The story is absolutely correct. We still have no answers as to what has tragically happened to my uncle. I think it is extremely ludicrous for the Broward Sheriff's Office to not have provided any explanations and then wonder why no one respects its authority. I am at the point at which I myself couldn't give a damn about anyone who wears a badge. It's hard when I go to my grandmother's house and picture my uncle in the yard cutting the grass and look at my great-grandmother, Charlie's mom, and see the hurt in her face day after day. It's tough. But I guess the stories from inmates have been proven. When incarcerated, you're just a number, and that's it.

Calandra Cobb

Fort Lauderdale

A gutsy dispatch: Trevor Aaronson's article questioning the facts surrounding the death of Charlie Osborne was an excellent piece of journalism. It has always been of interest to me that the bigger papers (guess who!) always seem to let things slide when it comes to hard-news reporting re: this "Law Enforcement Agency." Thanks for having the guts.

Ed Summers

Dania Beach

Off the Mark:I am an 18-year-old high school student in Fort Lauderdale and a long-time reader of New Times. Unfortunately, I am very disappointed in Bob Norman's piece on Congressman Mark Foley ("Out with the Truth," May 8). I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Foley several years ago, and he is an articulate and genuine politician -- a rarity these days. The article, instead of reporting facts about Foley, describes rumors and hearsay. Adults often wonder why youth are turned off by the political process; it is because of articles like this. There is already enough cynicism in Florida politics without these allegations. Broward County has serious problems, and we need serious solutions, not more of the same old politics. Why pick on a man who, whether the allegations are true or not, has not broken any laws and has served his district well? We have plenty of politicians in Broward County who have been indicted, arrested, accused of embezzling, and the like. I'm not sure about you, but I want to elect the best candidate who will work to better Florida. Why pick on Mark Foley?

Fritz Brogan

Fort Lauderdale

On the Mark:Congratulations to New Timesfor the article on Mark Foley. At last, someone has had the guts and integrity to talk the truth. The next thing is for Congressman Foley to show the same courage and integrity.

How are future generations of gay men and women ever to learn about self-acceptance until they have examples before them? Mr. Foley may not see himself as a Rosa Parks figure, but the impact of an out gay man running for (and maybe winning) a U.S. Senate seat would say once and for all that being gay is OK. It is just a tiny part of who a person is, and it does not mean that one cannot serve one's country and state with integrity. Mr. Foley, we are waiting. Don't let Florida down.

Paul Harris

Fort Lauderdale

In a column published May 8, Bob Norman reported that Congressman Mark Foley and his boyfriend visited Tracy Thorne's home in the Florida Keys during the early 1990s. In fact, their respective vacation properties bordered each other, and though Foley and Thorne knew each other, they met in the Keys by chance. In addition, Foley escorted Matthew Shepard's parents in Washington, D.C., not West Palm Beach.

Foundation Shakin' Truth tellin': Excellent article about Over the Counter Intelligence ("Shakin' tha Foundation," April 24)! Thanks for getting the type of story rarely seen in South Florida. The band sounds interesting -- and hopefully we'll hear more about them. Great article.

Kristina Klein

Miami Lakes

Notpreviously worn:First, I want to thank New Times for the support it has given to the arts. Numerous features about events at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts have appeared, which is why I was puzzled to read Ronald Mangravite refer to the Broward Center as an "underused" art space in his April 17 article, "Pulitzer Surprise."

In actuality, the Broward Center presents more than 700 performances annually, an increase of more than 300 percent from five years ago. Recent years have also seen an increase in the number of midsized and emerging local arts groups that appear on our stages, including the International Hispanic Theatre Festival, the Acting Studio, City Theatre, the International Piano Festival of Miami, Ashanti Dance, and the upcoming Reggae Soca Awards.

We look forward to welcoming Mr. Mangravite back to the Broward Center at a future performance. Again, thank you for your continued support of the arts.

Linda Potenza, Director of Marketing

Broward Center for the Performing Arts

via the Internet

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