Letters

In the field of journalism, digging up the corruption scandals and other shady dealings of dishonest politicians and greedy officials necessitates investigative reporting. How else is the general public going to find out what's really happening in South Florida? We can't all be detectives. Why do you think the TV show 60 Minutes is so popular?

As far as I'm concerned, newspapers run this country, and publishing a major daily should be done equitably, without persistent gotta-make-a-profit pressure from the parent company. I hope Alberto IbargYen will try to assuage the demands of Knight Ridder without doing damage to what is still a good newspaper for Miami.

Robert S. Denchfield
Miami Beach

StreetSmarts: The Official Word on $$$
I read Kathy Glasgow's recent article regarding a new homeless newspaper ("Brother, Can You Spare a Byline?" January 7) and the subsequent letters to the editor and must provide some clarification. The issue of funding for a homeless newspaper has never been an agenda item at a board or committee meeting of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. There has never been any discussion or formal action on whether or not the Trust should or should not support this effort financially or otherwise. (Ms. Lynn Summers does not work for the Homeless Trust; she is executive director of the Community Partnership for Homeless, a private, nonprofit organization that provides homeless housing and services. She is not a Trust board member.)

I had the occasion to meet with StreetSmarts publishers Carolyn Blair and Frank Kaiser regarding their venture. I welcomed the opportunity to discuss a concept that has been considered before by others but never came to fruition. I provided the couple with information on our funding processes. I would like to clarify that while indeed the Homeless Trust administers a significant amount of funding to assist the homeless, most of that funding is for direct services in the form of housing (short- and long-term) and services such as employment programs and outpatient mental-health counseling.

The Homeless Trust's diverse board includes homeless advocates, homeless persons, service providers, as well as representatives from the business, civic, and religious communities. The Trust has worked vigorously to identify new, innovative, and effective ways to serve all homeless persons (including those most resistant to service), with the goal of assisting persons in achieving self-sufficiency -- a hand up, not a handout.

Our efforts have placed more than 13,500 persons in housing that has been expanded by 4500 beds. More than 28,000 medical visits have been provided, 33,900 units of mental-health outpatient services rendered, and 1250 persons employed through temporary (a unique day-labor program) and long-term jobs. Shortly we will be providing special assistance to homeless welfare recipients and expanded access to legal services. These are new services and housing developed since the Homeless Trust was established five years ago.

As you may imagine we receive countless requests for funding from well-meaning and usually excellent programs. Competitive processes ensure that funding is allocated fairly and responsibly. Even then, funding is allocated based on priority needs that are developed annually through a comprehensive process with significant community input. Allocating funding outside of the competitive process, or for needs not identified as priorities, would be an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars, both local and federal. Characterizing our lack of immediate funding of the StreetSmarts project (especially without a track record, and without a competitive process) as a particular position on this issue would also be unfair.

Hilda M. Fernandez, executive director
Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust
Miami

Touched by Don Goyo
I was very moved by Judy Cantor's article about Rancho Don Goyo ("A Little Slice of Cuba," January 7). While reading it, either my eyes were filled with tears or my cheeks with laughter. Maybe it's because I'm of Cuban descent, but I can't imgine any person with a Latin background not being touched by the article.

I cannot wait to visit this place they say is as Cuban as the flag. Thank you very much for informing me and the public of such a cultural event.

Erica Canas
Miami

And Now a Few Words from the Professor
Ted B. Kissell's description ("The Doctor Is Out," December 10, 1998) of my consultation report on the Dade County Department of Health sexually transmitted disease program was accurate, but could have made one additional important point. Very few county health departments in the United States take the risk of inviting outside consultants to critique their programs. The Dade County Health Department's leadership should be commended for having the courage to do so, and over the past six months has been fixing the problems that were found.

King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

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