Letters for February 14-20, 2008

Junk the Machine

People can count better: Great article ("Tally Against the Machine," Tailpipe, February 7)! We used the sort-and-stack method for counting our paper affidavits in Project Vote Count's citizen-run exit poll. We averaged two to three hours counting the ballots for each precinct. The counting process became more fluid as our counters gained experience. For the most part, this was a very simple election, with only two races on the ballot. No electronic voting machines were needed to count this election.

If fresh counting teams were recruited at each precinct in Broward County on election night, the entire county, with over 750 precincts, could have counted their paper ballots and reported their results by 10 p.m. on election night! In contrast, the county, with its multimillion-dollar software and proprietary voting system, did not report their results until 3:30 p.m. the next day.

The best part of using paper ballots is we will have consensus that the candidate or referendum really got the most votes.

Ellen Brodsky, Project Vote Count

Coconut Creek

Mara Unlamented

From one of her greatest fans: Isn't it amazing that the City of Hollywood, a so-called All-American City, would oust its mayor and one of her biggest henchmen ("Come Back, Mara. Noooooo," Tailpipe, February 7)? So it's adios to Mayor Mara and her longtime partner, Cathy Anderson — and good riddance! Now Mara can spend most of her spare time up in Maine "with Donny and the kids," though I'm sure she'll wind up as a lobbyist with some company that has a multimillion-dollar deal pending in Hollywood. Mara, the city voters finally woke up, took a good whiff of the political garbage you've been feeding them over the years, and decided it and you stink up the joint! The Herald wrote that "an era ended in one of Broward County's largest cities....." How right they were, and most of Hollywood is thrilled about it.

Harvey Slavin

Hollywood

Expert Schmexpert

Sex education that misinforms?: Much gratitude to Dierdra Funcheon and New Times for running this important piece on sexuality education ("Simmer Down, Kids," January 31). Ms. Funcheon did a good job of pointing out the frustration in dealing with a political climate that continues to let morality trump science, and of "culture wars" that continue to ignore reality in favor of a game that pretends that preaching chastity will have any effect at all in addressing critical sexual health problems. What the piece did not point out, however, is that the abstinence programs like Be the One, which are welcomed with open arms in most every school in the district, are presented by people with little or no training in either adolescent development or sexuality. These people are "experts" by virtue of the fact that they memorize the party line and claim to be role models (even if they themselves were not abstinent until marriage!). This is why our kids continue to get so much inaccurate information, such as over-inflated contraceptive failure rates or STD infection rates, and pseudo-science, such as the ridiculous notion that oxytocin permanently "bonds" people who have sex with one another. Or, even more absurd, the idea that young people become depressed and suicidal when they lose their virginity.

The article also quotes me as saying that 85 percent of parents "think it's important to talk about abstaining," when, in fact, what I said was that more than 85 percent of parents support comprehensive sex ed! Unfortunately, I don't think anything will change much until those parents start to speak up and demand that it be done.

St. Lucie's school district has recently adopted comprehensive sex ed, mostly in response to their alarming HIV infection rates among young people. The curriculum stresses abstinence, as well as giving honest, nonjudgmental, medically accurate information on contraception and yes, condom use. Here's hoping the other school districts in Florida, including Palm Beach County, will follow their lead.

Ricky Siegel

Boca Raton

Johnny Jammer Man

He spreads the word like Mr. Appleseed: Thank goodness for that invention ("Jammer Man," Michael J. Mooney, January 17). I now may be able to do some work at the library without those cell phones going off every couple of minutes. I got on the web site, and will order one... at whatever the cost! The guy who invented this tool deserves a medal. It looks great. Now if it only works!

Name withheld by request

Brooklyn

Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? Damned elusive Jammer Man: I enjoyed reading your article about cell phone jammers and want to say thanks to Jammer Man for his valiant efforts! I recently bought a scanner from a Taiwanese site and have been trying to emulate some of the good work of our mutual hero. Thanks again for bringing the issue to light.

Name withheld by request

Via the internet

Tow Predator

Abusing the public with impunity: I too have had my car preyed upon by this woman ("Tow Job," Ashley Harrell and John Linn, January 3). I printed out the Broward county statute that very clearly says she is not allowed to charge more than $100, but she did not care and would not give my car back unless I paid her $180 (even in the presence of police officers, who were unable to do anything). I have had her helpers, who were dressed in thug-like clothing, swear at and threaten me when asking a question regarding parking. Rather than paving new spots to fix the problem, the homeowners association would rather create another problem for its owners by towing their cars.

Name withheld by request

Coral Springs

Correction

Restaurant critic Gail Shepherd mistakenly identified Mark Ortell as the owner of Amazonia Churrascuria and Aquamarine in Palm Beach Gardens ("Steaking a Claim,", January 17). Ortell was the general manager; he has since left the company. Milton Berlinski owns both restaurants.

 
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