Cutler Bay

Letter: Cutler Bay candidate forum won’t be fair

Community organizations that host candidates for public office have always prided themselves in being impartial in their proceedings, allowing their political guests to make their respective arguments knowing full-well that the questions put before them are not biased in favor or against either candidate.

In America, this central principle is paramount to maintaining the integrity of our electoral process.

As a candidate for mayor of Cutler Bay in the Nov. 4 election, I have had the pleasure of participating in a political forum organized by the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade, where I have presented my accomplishments as a founding member of the Cutler Bay Town Council, as well as my vision for moving our wonderful town forward.

However, I am outraged to learn that the president and vice president of the longstanding and respected organization, Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay, who have scheduled their candidates’ forum for Tuesday, Oct. 7, are not only the moderators of this debate but are financial backers and volunteer supporters of my opponent. Additionally, they are insisting on formulating their own questions instead of those provided by the audience, thereby dismissing them.

Despite my protests, board president Steve Zarzecki, who gave a $250 contribution to my opponent’s campaign, and vice president Tom Condon, who not only lent his services in developing my opponent’s campaign website as an in-kind contribution, and regularly canvasses our community in favor of my opponent, have refused to change the format or moderators, therefore tainting the upcoming proceedings.

In light of this intransigence, I find that I have no other alternative but to forgo the upcoming CCCB forum and urge the community at large to do the same as no real debate on the important issues confronting the town will be discussed that evening.

I will be attending a forum sponsored by Cutler Bay Business Association Oct. 9. After speaking to the board president, who informed me of their unbiased format, I immediately accepted. I hope you will attend.

Peggy Bell, Town Councilwoman, Cutler Bay

Lobbyist should not work on political campaign

Cutler Bay mayoral candidate Peggy Bell has fallen into the typical Miami-Dade political trap. She is using a lobbyist to work on her campaign.

In the recent past, two other members of the Town Council used the same lobbyist to manage and work on their campaigns.

When the same lobbyists brought a development project before the town council, both council members who had used the lobbyist spoke highly of his project and the 11 variances. The other three council members voted against allowing the variances.

The lobbyist, Jose Luis Castillo, now has a new project that will come before the council, and if Bell is elected mayor she will vote on Castillo’s zoning change application.

There is something wrong having a lobbyist work to get council members elected, and then bring issues before the council for them to vote on.

People of Cutler Bay, do not vote for a person that is willing to sell out your trust just to get elected.

John Sykes, Cutler Bay

If you don’t have something nice to say...

I moved to Palmetto Bay 30 years ago for its parks, excellent schools and thoughtful villagers. I have relatives who have lived here more than 40 years. Lately, we, our friends and neighbors are very concerned because of the divisive language, attitudes and behaviors of some people.

It always seems to happen around election time. When I read a letter in Soapbox (Council candidate misbehaved, Sept. 28), the language truly bothered me. Words like “sneak,” “underhanded,” “disgraceful,” and “divisive” do not set the right tone for our community.

I retired from the Miami-Dade School System after 50 years of service as a teacher and an elementary school administrator. I used to tell the children that if they could not say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. We have to learn to be prudent at a young age and then as adults set a good example.

I would hope that those neighbors who have different views as to where a new fire station should go will sit down and come to an agreement. As they discuss the matter, they need to be prudent about it and not give the wonderful village of Palmetto Bay an undeserved and incorrect poor reputation.

Rose Garcia Infante, Palmetto Bay

Now county must maintain Ehmann Park

What happened at Ron Ehmann Park, 10995 SW 97th Avenue, to cause the neighbors of this community to reach out to the Miami-Dade parks department and the county commissioners for help and support to provide funds for the apparently abandoned facility? The abandoned look included damaged benches, broken picnic tables, and insufficient trash cans. The dirty, sandy playground, invited feral animals from the area. Toxic trees were identified growing in the property at the park, which could have caused many a problem to residents and families.

What our community would like to have at Ron Ehmann is a clean, natural park that is not overgrown with toxic shrubs and non-native trees. A park with a clean and sanitary playground for our children. A jogging path in which joggers and walkers can practice their sport in safety without tripping over broken surfaces or overgrown roots.

We would like to thank Commissioner Xavier Suarez and J.C. Garrido from his staff and key personnel from the parks department. These folks have worked and met with our community to identify and begin the work that is now taking place. The benches and picnic tables have been repaired, the building has been painted. The cleanup of the grounds has begun, with almost half the work having been accomplished. However, a key to any successful project is the maintenance of the work that has been done. That has been a missing part of the county’s commitment to Ron Ehmann Park which must be committed to now. The only way that is going to happen is if the parks department commits to adding Ron Ehmann to their maintenance list with an operating budget equal to other parks with similar facilities and acreage.

Going forward we also need the help and support of all the homeowners surrounding the park. My email is

Al Robles, Kendall

South Miami budget process wasn’t fair

In South Miami, the budget “hearings” are behind us for another year. This was the year when citizen participation was successfully thwarted. Workshops are typically designed for dialogue, questions and answers but in South Miami the definition was changed to a series of one-sided speeches by the mayor and the city manager. Questions regarding multi-million-dollar changes in our budget were not addressed properly, truth was disregarded, and money disbursed without fairness.

Being a “green” city is just a campaign speech and means nothing. Our kids cannot even go to the “walkable” neighborhood school. Some neighborhoods are allowed to be detrimentally exploited by developers for more tax revenues used in other areas and for ill-conceived ventures. Safety, enjoyment of our homes, infrastructure and environmental balance are in jeopardy.

Sadly, this is not a year for “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Yvonne Beckman, South Miami

How to sound off

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