Letters for January 27-February 2, 2005

Jai Alai Down Low

Make the fronton a horserace: Regarding Sam Eifling's January 20 article, "The Swift and the Dying," over these past ten years, I've seen the decline of jai alai. I've seen old ladies supplementing Social Security by working food and souvenir concessions and then ultimately get laid off. I've seen the cigar room last barely two weeks after a big, grand-opening night.

As for the jai alai, player apathy is evident in the sloppy way they line up and salute the crowd before each game. You have to realize that these guys are athletes who must stay in shape. You have to wonder if they should get $150,000 per year. You have to wonder if simulcasting has produced secret profits that could support higher player salaries and maybe bring back the old ladies on Social Security. How long will the clubhouse stay open?

The Dania Beach fronton is a dingy place where once in a while they make a half-assed attempt at a so-called renovation. Fact is, the crowd is a mix of old retired people and low-income people looking for a big score. They return often to the fronton to chase winning numbers that don't come in. The players need to just continue their nonreaction to the insults hurled at them. Because in the end, the bettor is his own worst enemy.

I like an occasional wager, but the money is better put to use in a cookie jar in the kitchen. Meanwhile, maybe jai-alai frontons can become meccas of entertainment like what Frank Stronach is attempting to do at Gulfstream.

Marc Smilen

Dania Beach

Recycled Roadways

Biking is dangerous: Another great piece on the reality of cycling in Florida ("The Punching Bag Punches Back," Jeff Stratton, January 20). To think, we moved here for the year-round outdoor lifestyle!

Many thanks for bringing reality to the forefront.

Judy Grillo

Delray Beach

But he loves the people: I'd like to offer a few comments on "The Punching Bag Punches Back." Even though I have had too many less-than-friendly encounters with other roadway users during my 16 years as an avid cyclist, I have had many positive experiences as well. In fact, the positives far outweigh the negatives. And that is what makes me work hard to encourage the development of a more functional, equitable transportation system.

While the story is accurate in describing the bad experiences I've had, it fails to mention any of the positives that were shared during the interview. The picture I tried to paint was that frustration and anger may be powerful motivators, but my passion for bicycling moves me to action. Along with children, those without access to an automobile -- including many lower-income people -- are my top priority.

Yes, I want to improve things because I know how tough it can be out there. But more than that, I see the many positives that gaining wider acceptance for bicycling and walking can bring. The mentality that people who don't drive an automobile are second-class citizens must end.

Raphael Clemente

Via the Internet

And he hates the compromise: With regard to "The Punching Bag Punches Back," there are two errors that I insist be corrected. First, he states that a "compromise has been hashed out between bike-lane opponents and hard-core cyclists." This is incorrect. The only "compromise" that was reached was within the City of Delray Beach ad-hoc committee, which included only one bicycle advocate, like bike-shop owner Al Richwagon. He was neither a duly-appointed representative of the cycling community nor has he ever expressed opposition to the bike lane plan.

Second, I have had the opportunity to read the e-mail that Raphael Clemente sent to Vice Mayor Jon Levinson. Levinson's recent comment that the e-mail was "derogatory" is nothing short of a blatant misrepresentation. Clemente represents the educated voice of reason in this matter; Levinson represents everything that is wrong with our pedestrian-hostile society.

Finally, your article paints Clemente as a reckless vigilante on two wheels. It is sad that you have resorted to sensational journalism when you could have featured a local hero.

Jeff Lynne

Boca Raton Bicycle Club

Boca Raton

Jeff Stratton responds: Lynne hasn't really pointed out errors in the story. Indeed, the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization in June approved the ad-hoc committee's solution, which was a rather Solomonic compromise.

Listen Up, Appraisers

You're a discredit to your craft: Bob Norman's January 13 story on the giveaway of City of Hollywood land to the buyers of the Jefferson apartment development is to be commended. The circumvention of the law and the shameless manner in which the land was given away is obviously against the public interest and contrary to all principles of economic and appraisal science.

The land lease on which the appraisal was based is immaterial to the property value. A legitimate and/or valid lease (just like any other legal contract) requires specific performance, specific good, or other specific valuable exchange. If the annual lease rate was for the provision to the city of 250 rental housing units on that land, then the lease should be void, if not invalid, without that specific performance by the lessee to the lessor. Which would also mean that the lease could not be considered as a basis for valuation under any other conditions.

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