The Biscayne Times

Apr 25th
May 2009 PDF Print E-mail
May 2009

FPL’s Tree Assassins: It’s All About Profits

Regarding Jeff Shimonski’s tale of “Good Trees in Bad Locations” (April 2009), I might have preferred a headline like “Bad Utility Lines in Bad Locations.”

Mr. Shimonski advises that “V-pruning of trees located directly beneath utility wires is now an accepted practice,” and he notes that the “directional pruning” practiced by FPL “doesn’t look very natural but is much better for the tree and allows for a longer pruning cycle.” These are misleading observations which may unfortunately lead the layperson to buy into them.

The notion that any public utility has the inherent right to visually pollute our communities with unbridled overhead power lines, ugly concrete or tar-stained wood poles, and disastrous pruning techniques are anathema to sound residential planning and the highest standards of community design.

And the idea that the pruning of trees by FPL’s “tree assassins” is “now an accepted practice” could not be further from the truth. Such action may be accepted by FPL, by Asplundh Tree Company (the “pruners”), and by the uninformed, but it is highly unlikely that even the most novice gardener would support the argument that FPL cares about trees, or about how they are pruned.

One need merely observe the myriad examples of unprofessional, damaging pruning being practiced by FPL’s minions to understand the significant degree to which our tree canopy and our community aesthetic are being sacrificed for FPL profits.

Ted Baker, landscape architect



Ikea Will Not Save the Shores
Jen Karetnick’s article on downtown Miami Shores (“Ghost Village,” April 2009) was not only interesting but helpful in terms of understanding why it looks the way it does (a ghost town). However, as one who has worked with similar downtowns hoping to restock themselves with shops, I can tell you that national chains will not even look at a place like NE 2nd Avenue. We’re fooling ourselves if we think they will locate here.

National chains (retail and casual fine dining) will only locate in malls, big-box centers, and corner pod sites. They will not change their floor plan requirements no matter how affluent a neighborhood may be.

Our village fathers would be better off convincing the Village Place landlords to incubate their empty shops with deeply discounted rents that would allow very small entrepreneurs to establish a foothold on the avenue for the first year or two. As a small business owner, I can tell you that my rent is my biggest concern. Surely it is better to get $500 a month for 500 square feet, for the first year, than nothing.

Jesse Walters

Miami Shores


Winner of This Month’s Clever Idea Award:

In one of Derek McCann’s police reports (“Secure All Sticky Substances,” April 2009) he mentioned a person who had his vehicle registration decal stolen. I’d like to offer advice to everyone on how to avoid that ever happening. Once you apply your decal, score it with a sharp knife or razor blade. I score mine about six times diagonally. If someone tries to peel it off, he can’t take the whole decal but only a small portion of it. I have never lost a registration since I’ve been doing that.

Keep up the good work and thank you for a paper that is a treat to read.

Name Withheld by Request



Winner of This Month’s Redundancy Award: Miami’s Brain-Dead Politicians
I’d like to compliment your newspaper on how well you keep the community informed on local issues. I never used to read Biscayne Times. I’d pick it up from the driveway and throw it away. But I made the mistake of opening it up one time and haven’t stopped reading it since!

It gets me all fired up when I read about our wonderful, brilliant local politicians. In my 62 years, I have never seen a community with such a dysfunctional governing class as Miami. They are greedy, thoughtless, uncaring, lack any common sense, and don’t seem to ever care about the opinions of the residents. Can you sense my disgust?

I read Erik Bojnansky’s article about parks advocate Steve Hagen (“You’ve Got Mail...Lots and Lots of It,” March 2009) and would like to say that, personally, I want to see Bicentennial Park remain as an open green space. Between the city officials and the developers, they would take all of our parks and turn them into concrete.

Here’s something else: I’ve noticed not one tree has been planted along Biscayne Boulevard since about December. They stopped somewhere around 62nd Street during the holidays. They were cutting the openings in the sidewalks and planting trees and then boom! Nothing!

What’s going on? Has the city told the state that from 62nd Street to 87th Street they don’t think trees are necessary? Excuse me, but I’ve always hated the way the boulevard looks south of Miami Shores and down past 79th Street. This is the section of the Boulevard that needs a face-lift the most. Come on, Miami, get off your dead ass and finish the project you started. We want to see more trees.

It’s about time you brain-dead politicians started listening to the people of Miami.

Dennis Tinsman

Miami Shores


Live Green, Swim Green
Jim W. Harper’s article “New Ideas for New Pools” (March 2009) offers several great suggestions to reduce energy consumption while heating your pool. I must respectfully object, though, to the statement that a bubble pool blanket can heat water as much as ten degrees. “Solar” bubble pool blankets are great for keeping heat in a pool (most of the heat loss in a pool comes from evaporation), but they do not effectively heat the water.

I have to add I was a bit surprised when the article made no mention of solar as a method of heating a pool. While heat pumps are certainly the next best alternative to solar, an average 400,000 BTU heat pump still produces more than 38 tons of CO2 emissions a year! Heat pumps use electricity, and as you may know, most electricity in this country comes from the burning of coal.

Solar, on the other hand, produces zero toxic greenhouse gas emissions. With no operating costs (solar energy is free and require little maintenance), pool owners typically see a payback period of two years or less. Most solar heaters available today carry at least a ten-year warranty, and systems have been known to last more than 20 years. For pool owners already heating their pools with a gas, electric, or propane heater, solar can be installed to work as the primary source of heat, with the existing heater as a backup.

The bottom line is this: Heating a swimming pool with fossil-fuels is a luxury this country can no longer afford.

Dan Sizelove

Aquatherm Industries, Inc.

Lakewood, New Jersey


No More Cookie-Cutter Hedges!

Regarding Jeff Shimonski’s article “Fear and the Fig Whitefly” (March 2009), he was right on point. Drive around our lush city and you’ll see countless cookie-cutter ficus hedges. We are so privileged to live in a tropical paradise where you can grow countless other plants, which are much more interesting to the eye and which celebrate garden diversity.

Cheers for suggesting tough and beautiful varieties such as the colorful crotons, the loyal and everlasting silver buttonwood, and the feisty clusia. The whitefly will not feast on those and it will make for more interesting gardens. Thanks for this article.

Laura Santamaria



So Who Really Cares? You Care, That’s Who.

After reading Wendy Doscher-Smith’s column about her use of the “F bomb” (“Me and My Foul Mouth,” March 2009), I would say that any person claiming “not to care” is usually defending a weak position, and certainly persons who feel shame for their actions should realize the fault is all their own. I appreciate the ridiculousness of censoring language, but it’s far more ridiculous to see a grown woman put herself in the emotional position of a second-grader over it.

Other people exist, and you are accountable for the consequences of your actions.

Rajan Purcell


The Uncluttered Life

Thank you so much for Jim W. Harper’s timely article “World-Class Gluttons” (February 2009). As a personal organizer who specializes in helping people de-clutter their homes, I regularly see the effects of Americans’ unthinking consumption, bringing me regular business from those who need help in getting out from under piles of unnecessary belongings.

We Americans regularly purchase hundreds of items because they catch our eye or seem to be a bargain, without ever asking ourselves whether we truly need them. The environmental movement is often regarded as being made up of holier-than-thou, goody-two-shoes people, but really, many of the modest practices they (and Harper’s article) espouse are in the consumer’s best interest. Purchasing less-than-necessary items costs money and emotional energy, and it requires one to have ever-larger (and more expensive) dwellings to store things.

I’m hoping that the silver lining to the current economic crisis is that people begin to evaluate their true material needs and priorities, financial and personal. The burgeoning frugality-simplicity-environmental movement is not just good for the environment and the pocketbook -- it’s great for the spirit, too.

Amy McKenna


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