Letters to the Editor

Mayor: Miami Beach is fixing state’s pot error

The Miami Herald’s Sept. 15 editorial, “Beach cracks down on pot and parking” missed the point. We are not proposing an ordinance to “crack down” on marijuana use.

Rather, we are enacting a municipal ordinance because a glitch in a recent state law legalizing hemp has had the unintended consequence of preventing enforcement of state marijuana laws. If we take no action, we are unable to prevent someone from smoking pot in front of a school, in our parks or in our entertainment districts.

A few weeks ago, prosecutors across Florida announced that recent state legislation legalizing hemp effectively prevented enforcement of minor marijuana laws (because hemp and marijuana smell the same and require testing to distinguish). When they announced they could no longer prosecute any minor pot cases, that left cities unable to enforce the state law, prohibiting marijuana smoking in public rights of way, including in our parks, schools and entertainment districts. Up to now, Police could direct someone to put out a joint. If they refused they could be arrested.

But now, while our officers can enforce open-container laws, they can do nothing to enforce existing state marijuana laws.

To fix this glitch, we are proposing to simply treat pot and hemp smoking in public the same way we treat prohibition against drinking liquor in public. This is an appropriate, measured response. Even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, it is still unlawful to smoke in the public rights of ways, especially near places children congregate. Again, the only purpose of this ordinance is to supplement a state statute that is no longer enforced by state prosecutors, with a misdemeanor ordinance that can be enforced by our municipal prosecutor.

It would be absurd to do nothing to cure an unintended legislative accident that poses a public health hazard — especially to children.

Dan Gelber, mayor,

Miami Beach

Register to vote

The League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County will participate in National Voter Registration Day, a nationwide, nonpartisan annual effort to register hundreds of thousands of voters on Tuesday, Sept.24.

The event leverages the collective impact of thousands of community partners, including hundreds of League of Women Voters chapters every year.

LWVMD will be out in force at Miami Dade College’s Hialeah campus and at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24. Our volunteers will be on hand to assist voters who want to register or update their registration.

In addition to the 2020 national elections, several municipal elections are scheduled this fall and throughout next year, allowing voters to weigh in on important issues such as the quality of public schools, transportation, and public safety.

LWVMD empowers thousands of voters through education, registration and get-out-the-vote activities. We urge all of our Miami-Dade neighbors to visit www.vote411.org to find out about upcoming elections in their area and check their voter registration. Join us on National Voter Registration Day.

Our democracy is strongest when every voice is heard.

Marisol Zenteno,


League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County

Rethink decisions

Unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised that traditional public school teachers’ pay raises and per-student funding is not even mentioned as a topic during the committee meetings for the new legislative session on Jan. 14, 2020.

As a seventh-grade teacher in a Miami-Dade County public school, I am convinced that Florida legislators are afraid to talk to teachers. Talking means listening, which means these lawmakers have to admit to their callous, irrational and greed-driven decisions aimed at destroying public schools.

Willfully handing over our public tax dollars to their charter school buddies clearly means they are profiting and capitalizing from innocent children, which is a crime — an educational crime that can never be punished enough.

I challenge all Florida legislators to step into our classrooms this school year before they make the usual uninformed and ignorant funding decisions about teachers and students.

Mayade Ersoff,

Palmetto Bay

Common sense

I thank Florida’s congressional delegation for voting to ban drilling in the Eastern Gulf and Atlantic. I have been a small-business owner in the Upper Keys for 11 years, with a new business in Islamorada.

Clean, healthy beaches are the engine of our local economy. What would the Keys be without snorkeling, fishing, sunbathing and boating? These aren’t just hobbies — they are our livelihoods and a part of our unique quality of life.

Annually, more than 100 million tourists visit Florida to see our beautiful beaches. While an oil spill would ruin environment and economy, the damage from drilling can occur way before a spill. Damage to the ocean and wildlife begins when oil companies start blasting to find the best places to drill. Drilling itself releases thousands of gallons of polluted “drilling muds.” Drilling also means developing new infrastructure, like pipelines and refineries.

We have to fight for healthy beaches like our lives and livelihoods depend on it, because they do. Here’s hoping the U.S. Senate will show the same conviction as Florida’s members of Congress.

Pierre Marc Bellion,

owner, Cafe Moka,


Better skeeters

Re the Sept. 15 story “It could be mosquito vs. mosquito in the Keys to combat dengue and Zika:” The Florida Keys do not need to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika.

They can do what the World Mosquito Program is doing around the globe, and what mayor and professor Philip Stoddard did in South Miami: introduce non-biting male mosquitoes that have the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria.

Wolbachia already is present in up to 60 percent of insects and poses no danger to human or pet health. When these Wolbachia male mosquitoes mate with virus-carrying female mosquitoes, the offspring don’t hatch. Therefore, the population with the virus decreases, and so does the risk of disease.

Efforts should be made to have the Environmental Protection Agency support programs with Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes.

Maya Rosen, Coral Gables

Affordable housing

There is definitely an affordable housing crisis in South Florida, in part because of foreign money pushing up prices, but more because of low salaries. So many people work in low-paying, sometimes seasonal, jobs. South Florida, for many, is paradise lost.

However, even though it is crazy that a one-bedroom apartment rents for $2,200 a month in the Brickell neighborhood, it is difficult to understand how a couple making $100,000 a year can complain about the tough choices they must make. Maybe they need to reconsider some of their choices.

Linda Conner, Miami

Castro’s attack

Presidential candidateJulian Castro’s clumsy attack on Joe Biden in last week’s debate raises a larger issue. Not only was Castro’s pummeling of Biden ugly, Castro was factually wrong.

Castro has refused to acknowledge his mistake. Biden, and the public, deserve an apology from him. Maybe all is fair in love and war, but one thing America craves after almost three horrendous years of President Trump is a return to some civility.

Castro, in his almost Trumpian behavior, has demonstrated he is not up to the task.

It’s time people, and politicians, understood that offering an apology is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

Ellen Schnepper,


Radio cure

Well, it’s time to dust off that old transistor radio so I can listen to University of Miami Hurricane games.

It seems that Comcast, AT&T and ACCN can’t figure out how to extract more money from its customers. I guess $200 a month to watch only 10 to 15 channels doesn’t suffice. I’ll take that free TV; watching the same channels doesn’t seem so bad.

Everything goes full circle, including listening to games.

At least 55 years ago, local affiliates stepped up and aired hometown games.

Are we really progressing, or does it just seem so?

You decide, I already have.

Tom Fassoulis,



Apparently, the only people that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has not fully exposed himself to are on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Allan B. Marks,

Coral Gables