Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday September 26: Sniglets On Ziff, Marlins and Villela

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Life happens. And mazel tov, I suppose, to Sanford Ziff for apparently finding happiness months after losing wife Dolores.

But that's no excuse for Dolores Ziff's name to be taken off the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Opera House at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami in favor of Ziff's new wife.

Dolores Ziff's contributions to the arts in South Florida are beyond question. Her name remaining on the concert hall is a fitting tribute to that. The Arsht Center board - and any board that oversees tributes - should protect the legacy of those, such as Dolores Ziff, who have supported the arts.


To paraphrase Erica Kane in last week's televised swan song for "All My Children," this isn't the ending Marlins fans wanted for the team's time in what I still call Joe Robbie Stadium.

After a promising start in April and May, the season collapsed into one of a manager change, injuries, poor performances and even a pitcher who wasn't going by his real name.

Even the team's move into its new stadium has triggered questions; one rumored new logo resembles the Miami Dolphins' logo. (Why does the team need a new logo in the first place? Just replace "Florida" with "Miami.")

The Marlins' move to the old Orange Bowl site should be filled with optimism. But skepticism abounds - chiefly because the team is owned and run by two men - Jeffrey Loria and David Samson - who don't seem to understand that while they own the team, it's the fans who know best how a team should relate to the community it's in.


Finally, news late last week that Edward Villella, founding artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, will retire after the 2012-13 season.

After a glorious career as possibly the greatest male American ballet dancer to date, Villella worked with support from Toby Ansin to create the Miami City Ballet in 1986. In 25 years, the troupe has established itself as arguably one of the best in the United States and one that is celebrated internationally. On October 28, the company will be featured in PBS' "Great Performances."

Besides steering the Miami City Ballet to greatness, Villella is a class act. Years ago, as a college student on an internship at the late South Florida Magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing him. The tough kid from New York learned to show Miami hospitality easily.

Bravo to him and his wife, Linda!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22: Don't Blame Middle-Class Benefits For Crisis

By Sylvia Gurinsky

When did middle-class workers become the bad guy in this economic crisis?

Media - including entities that should know better, such as The Miami Herald and WPLG-Channel 10 - have been running a torrent of stories about how police, fire and other public employees have been making high salaries and getting lots of benefits.

Now, there's no question there have been abuses of the system, particularly in the upper echelons. But the rank-and-file who have risky jobs as a police officer or firefighter, or a postal worker who does the job through extreme heat and humidity, rain and nasty dogs, have every right to receive the best of health and vacation benefits.

Those whose benefits are worth questioning are CEOs who have continued to receive their millions while they've been laying off thousands of employees, as well as politicians who still receive full perks while they slash the health protection of those who work in the public sector.

It's also worth questioning why U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did not prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial collapses.

But picking on middle class workers is absurd. They're not responsible for this crisis. Making them the scapegoat won't fix it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday September 19: Tea Party Congress Disaster Handling Is a Disaster

By Sylvia Gurinsky

No matter how once pronounes it, the Tea Party faithful have a lot of chutzpah. What they don't have is any compassion - or good sense.

Only they could deny people along the east coast of the United States disaster relief by saying funding must be cut for the needy elsewhere.

Only they could sic members of the U.S. House of Representatives to delay that disaster relief when the U.S. Senate saw sense and approved the relief.

Only they could disagree with members of their own Republican Party - including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose state was battered by Hurricane Irene - over such a measure.

The rest of the United States - the majority of the United States - knows disaster relief is needed for the Eastern Seaboard. That majority needs to call, write and e-mail everyone in the House to approve that relief.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13: Private Sector Must Show Congress How Not To Discriminate Against Unemployed

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Bills have been introduced in Congress that would prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants who are currently unemployed. But knowing how the Tea Party Blockheads in Congress are behaving - "Blockhead" is the appropriate word to describe what they're doing to legislation and the country - only a major public clamor can get such a law approved.

President Barack Obama could probably issue executive orders to a point. But American workers - and some American businesses - could do more to get Congress' ear:

*Organize marches and protests similar to the workers' marches of the 1930s.

*Campaign to prevent newspapers and job-listing sites such as Craigslist from listing any jobs that ban currently unemployed people.
If employers can't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, creed, physical/mental ability or sexual orientation, they shouldn't be able to discriminate on the basis of employment - and the media shouldn't help them do so.

*Boycott companies that discriminate against the unemployed in their hiring practices.

*Lobby municipal and (where possible) state leaders to campaign against such discrimination.

The vast majority of men and women who have lost their jobs during this recession are not to blame - particularly in cases where their former bosses were only interested in profits at the expense of personnel. They need support - not suffering - in finding new jobs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011: Saddest 9/11 Legacy: America the Meaner

By Sylvia Gurinsky

For the most part, the experiences of the Great Depression and World War II turned this country, at least for a time, into something better than the ideal the Founding Fathers set out.

The experience of 9/11 - or how this country has reacted to it - has turned it into something far worse.

No thanks to deregulation and the proliferation of anything-goes cable television, the United States had already been lurching in a darker direction even before Sept. 11, 2001.

But the reactions to 9/11 - the lack of request by political leaders of anything even resembling shared sacrifice, the mistrust and hatred of Muslims that continues today and the dual lives of those who serve and those who don't - "Soldiers went to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan as America went to the mall" - has made matters worse.

So has the coarsening of culture, particularly on commercial television, polluted with so-called "reality shows" with people who have no transferrable skills, other than throwing around insults. And especially on so-called "cable news," which has made American politics their dirtiest since the Boss Tweed days.

So has the distintigration of American journalism, which no longer holds lying politicians to account.

We've lost our compassion. Oh, we can be generous when a natural disaster takes place in Haiti, Japan or Joplin. But as a country, we've lost the ability to work together on a daily basis.

Many who profess to be people of faith - including a lot of politicians - seek to divide, rather than unite.

All of that is no tribute to the more than 3,000 innocent men, women and children of different nationalities, religions, races and so on who lost their lives on 9/11.

They were united in living better lives. For their memories, when are we going to start to do the same?