I think it was Bette Davis who said, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night." That line, from the movie All About Eve, may become the official line for the saga that is going to evolve out of Michael Freedman's reporting found in "Cruisin' For a Bruisin'" (April 30). His excellent story may very well become the catalyst for a real, bona fide investigation of SunCruz business tactics and the elected officials who sell out to Gus Boulis' temptations.
The sensationalism isn't in the style of Mr. Freedman's writing, it's in the factual information he exposed your readers to. Communities up and down the state have been the victims of the SunCruz operation as it continues to expand its gambling enterprise. The horror stories from Monroe County all the way up to Crystal River are outrageous, but true. Lawsuits, destroyed lives, and environmental damage litter the wake, almost every time a SunCruz boat drops anchor in a new area. And, despite all of this monkey business, some cities look upon the Boulis arrival as the coming of the Messiah. (See Larry Gierer's letter, "Cruisin' For a Parking Space in Hollywood," May 21.)
I've talked to many of the same people Michael Freedman interviewed, and his story checks out to be credible and accurate. It might be time for SunCruz's [Barry] Epstein and [Greg] Karan to take two seasickness pills, because the boat hasn't even started to rock yet. That'll be 75 cents, please!
Casino Boats: A Bad Gamble
Michael Freedman did a wonderful job reporting on SunCruz. Here is a case where a news reporter has the guts to step forward and represent the truth, weeding out the double talk from media-savvy, well-paid public relations departments.
This story is fairly representative of my experience with SunCruz. In fact, I found it rather mild in its claims. Living in North Beach (Hollywood), where a SunCruz boat is docked, gives me and my neighbors the daily opportunity to witness firsthand the constant violations that occur -- violations far more extensive than the article reports. SunCruz got off easy on this one. I have no problem with the hours of enjoyment and employment opportunities SunCruz provides the citizens of Florida, but what I object to is the blatant disregard for the law this company has displayed time and time again.
I would like to refer to a letter to the editor written by Mr. Barry R. Epstein in your May 14 issue, wherein SunCruz is described as a "good corporate citizen" and a "positive force for the advancement of tourism in the state of Florida." There are no facts to back up his claim that casino boats are good for tourism.
I'd like to give Mr. Epstein a few facts:
*The North Beach neighbors and tourists are awakened nightly by the arrival of the boat with its whistle blasts and passengers, many of whom arrive drunk and wander through the neighborhood setting off car alarms at one o'clock in the morning.
*Tourists, who in the past visited "our neck" of the beach yearly for its quiet family atmosphere, are no longer visiting, citing the boat as a reason.
*Real estate values are dropping; no one wants SunCruz as their neighbor.
*The parking violations committed by the casino boat and its passengers are a daily community plague.
I thank Mr. Freedman for his courage to step forward with the truth -- a rare situation. Most of the time people are so worried about being sued by corporations with deep pockets, which can afford to sue at the drop of a hat, even if the allegations against them are true. Thanks New Times, for taking a stand.