Q & A With Bob Kunst

You accused Magarelli of instigating the Herald investigation; you called it back-stabbing politics.

Absolutely. I said he was totally racist and everything else. I made my presentation and the board said, "We do not want to support this treachery. We want Dominick out." And they fired him both from the board and from the office.

Why only Magarelli? Several CAN people talked to the Herald.
Because he was the only one who was still there. The others were former employees. The only other person instigating the thing was Barbara Gottlieb, who was on the board. She was the worst conniver in the whole group. She brought in the other characters like Tom Cunningham. There was a lot of hatred from Cunningham that goes back to Anita Bryant. He comes in with Barbara two weeks before I'm fired, and now he's running the place.

There is a philosophical difference as well, isn't there, in that Magarelli believes CAN should only be a food program?

Doing a food program is not the issue we started with. We were a one-stop operation for everything. It's not Dominick's laziness. He would accept from Gersten and the county, "I will feed 200 people." I would say, "We will feed everybody who needs to be fed because we're here to keep everyone alive." Dominick would only play the game, "We'll take what we can get."

Why did Gersten call for the county audit?
It was strictly political. Gersten had always complimented me publicly and otherwise. But the moment he got into bed with [Dade Action PAC chairman] Greg Baldwin and Baldwin is saying, "Hey, we got the money. We got the committee. We'll promise you the gay vote," that was it for me and Gersten. Gersten, who wants to be mayor worse than anything, sends out this call for an audit. But he didn't send it to the county manager. All he did was send it to the press. We went to the county manager and said, "We got a copy of this, have you gotten a copy?" He didn't even know about it. Gersten to me is a nothing. He's greedy and he's a sleaze and he'll do anything to get elected.

You responded by calling for an audit of Jackson Memorial Hospital and the South Florida AIDS Network, both of which receive county funds. Gersten called it a ploy to deflect criticism from CAN.

I wouldn't expect any other response from Gersten. What we were saying is that every AIDS organization should be held accountable. We were glad to be audited, but everyone else needed to be audited, also. Jackson wouldn't turn over the audit because if they did, it would turn out to have been just like what happened after the [September 3] election. All of sudden they're spending half a million dollars just to fix up a boardroom.

We had asked for an audit of Jackson for years. I had challenged Jackson and all these other groups in front of the state legislature: What are you doing with the money? You're grabbing and grabbing and grabbing but you're not dealing with direct services. The point is, we're overworked and we don't have enough money, and Gersten and the others keep giving money to other programs to play out politics with this black thing, and this gay thing, and this Hispanic thing, and this Haitian thing, but not the AIDS thing. We are doing the AIDS thing, giving this community ten million dollars worth of services for the million bucks that we're getting, and where is the help?

Part Three
The county's health and human services committee recommended freezing the $146,000, pending results of the audit. Do you think that was politics at work?

Of course it was. We had already got our [federal] Ryan White funding for this year. The freezing of this grant was for next [fiscal] year. But they didn't tell the public that. They made it look like they were cutting off our funding immediately, until things were resolved.

And the next phase is when the Miami Herald has a story in December, congratulating [board chairman] Cunningham and [boardmember] Joe Hudson for the great work that they have done, and now the citizens of the community can feel grateful that all of their dollars are going into food.

The preliminary audit did raise some serious questions: turnover, conflict of interest, et cetera.

Put it this way. The auditors work for the county, right?. Where is the turnover, anyway? The turnover is that people who put in years of service were all fired. We were all fired. And we were replaced with everybody we had fired before. And where is the conflict of interest? All I can tell you is the auditors repeated the Herald story. They didn't talk to any of us. After all the bullshit it boiled down to five points. That's all they asked for. We said, "Fine, there's no big deal." Whatever the county said, we were willing to go along with. Everything else is political hype.

The conflict-of-interest allegation was that there was no independent oversight of the executive staff.

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