Off the list

It was interesting to see the panel of 50 influential people for South Florida’s future, however, segments of the community were missing from this list.

There were no Asian Americans nor Muslim Americans on this panel. The Miami Herald could not find one Asian nor a Muslim in Florida who was qualified enough to express their views on the future of South Florida? I can name few, as well as local organizations.

To name few: Ken Russell, Miami city commissioner; Narendra Kini, CEO, Miami Children’s Hospital; Saif Ishoof, vice president of engagement at FIU.

Many organizations, like Miami Dade County Asian American Advisory Board, Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations (COSMOS), and American Pacific Bar Association (APBA), have contributed positively to the well-being of South Florida and have taken proactive steps to enhance prosperity for South Florida.

By excluding these segments of our community from expressing their opinion, the Miami Herald has done a disservice to the measure of depth and diversity of South Florida and an insult of this diaspora.

Shabbir Motorwala, Miami

Rebuilding MAST

As a parent involved in the struggle to halt the sale of privileged access to MAST Academy, I find it ironic that everything that we stated would happen has come to be.

MAST was the foremost public high school in the district, a beacon of excellence and diversity. We warned of the loss of that diversity, both racial and economic. We said the school would lose its identity. The Miami Herald’s reference to the “Maritime Magnet Program” in the June 6 story, “MAST student calls out racism at school in essay,” reveals the truth of that position. It was a school. It is now a “program.”

Having sold entrance to a privileged community, the school board is now dedicated to re-introducing the diversity it destroyed. I can think of few things quite so ridiculous.

The solution is simple: Reverse the wrongs and make it a school again. Recognize an excellent institution founded on open access and apologize for selling rights for the price of a soccer field. The wrongs revealed by student Tianna Headley were produced by the school district alone. [It should apologize to her and to all people of color and fix the problem with something more than hope.

Michael Bax, Coral Gables

View of Cuba

Re the May 25 op ed, “If you had a “great time” in Cuba, then you really didn’t see Cuba.” My first visit to Cuba in 1998, I was prepared to see families living in conditions similar to those I had seen while living for a year in Quito, Ecuador. Instead, I found access to clean water, healthcare and an aging but functional infrastructure.

Cuba is a developing nation, with progress mired down by not only its government but also poverty that predated the revolution, and an embargo imposed by the USA for the last 56 years that has cut off access to food, medicine, and essential goods.

If the op ed writer wants to see the real Cuba, perhaps he should remove the filter he is peering through and connect with the people. Until then, stick to Disney World.

Miriam Pearson-Martinez, Boca Raton

Pageant grows up

Kudos to the Miss America Organization for (finally) making changes to the Miss America Pageant!

It’s about time young women are recognized for other qualities besides their looks; they will be recognized for their intellect, accomplishments, social-impact initiatives, contributions, goals, etc.

We have come a long way…this will have a great impact on the women’s movement, and provide a wonderful lesson for all young girls, including my granddaughters!

Carmen Jacobson, West Kendall

President’s powers

The president must recuse himself from any clemency hearing for himself because it is the ultimate conflict of interest. If he won’t, he needs to be removed from office. No one is above the law!

Peter Wagoner, Miami

Scott goes negative

Given the size of his war chest and vast personal wealth, it is no surprise that Gov. Rick Scott, in his quest for a U.S. Senate seat, is hitting the airwaves early and often with political ads. The negative tone directed against his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, a life-long public servant, cannot be blamed on a political action committee. These ads are sanctioned by the governor.

Negative ads come in many forms, including subliminal messaging, a method of influencing by using words or images we do not consciously detect. The Scott campaign employs this approach in its thinly-veiled age discrimination ads.

Florida now ranks as one of the top five states in America with the highest average age after decades of leading the category. The Scott campaign would be wise to amend its strategy, because attacking Nelson’s age is an attack on the very electorate it is trying to embrace.

Jim Paladino, Tampa

Bad form

It is very interesting that Sen. Marco Rubio will not provide an e-mail address. Rather, you have to send a message through his Senate page. And then he does not respond.

Why wouldn’t a United States Senator simply make his e-mail address available so that you can write to him and copy interested parties?

Helen Leen Miranda, Deerfield Beach

Respect expression

Sadly, our national symbols — flag and anthem — are, for many, more important than the freedoms for which they stand. For some, they have become the objects of idolatry, graven images overshadowing common sense and respect for our constitutionally protected liberties.

Respecting our fellow citizens as they peacefully express their grievances as they see fit, wherever they see fit, honors our country in a far more meaningful way than any symbolic gesture can ever do. Freedom of expression is the very foundation of our nation. Our flag and anthem would be meaningless without it.

David Feliú, Coral Gables

Deadly hoax

Re the June 5 online story, “SWAT swarms home of Parkland student activist David Hogg after a prank call to police.”

Why is this called a prank? Illegal activity should not be labeled a prank — that trivializes the action. People have died because of the use of this “prank.”

Stephen Estes, Vancouver, WA

Blunt message

I admire and appreciate Kai Koerber on his astute May 23 op ed, “At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, I saw how the mental problems of a fellow student turned him into a killing monster.”

He certainly reinforced our need for coping skills, etc. in elementary, middle and high schools.

I really acknowledge this — while not on top of cars or using a bullhorn.

J. Partrick Portell, Fort Lauderdale