Letters

Lawrence: A New Times Embarrassment
Who is Jim Mullin to blast David Lawrence's efficiency and business savvy ("Nice Guy, Wrong Job," January 21) when it takes Mullin three pages to write what I could have written in one? Aren't pages the equivalent of money in the news business?

Mullin uses powerful words like "embarrassing inarticulateness," "fawning adulation," and "pitiful retrenchment," but still says nothing. The only thing embarrassing here is New Times's imprimatur. Mullin harps on the need for "attack dogs" to be "turned loose on a community in which cronyism, graft, and corruption were deeply entrenched," but what is more corrupt or insincere than being a mere peddler of words with the intent to impress?

Is Mullin trying to convince us that the only way to succeed in the news business is to resort to the kind of McCarthyism to which President Clinton has recently been subjected? Is generosity in the news business necessarily incompatible with making money? Mullin goes so far as to blame Miami's "rampant corruption" on a "soporific" Herald under Lawrence's leadership.

I guess coming from New Times, which happens to be a competitor of the Herald, this is not a biased statement: "Watching the Miami Herald shrivel under Dave Lawrence's inept stewardship has given me no pleasure." Please spare us, Mr. Mullin. I guess the next step will be to blame the Herald's pro-Clinton position for the president's high approval ratings.

Is this the same Dave Lawrence who permitted a New Times dispenser to be kept directly in front of the Herald building? I guess he's useful for some things, huh? Well let me tell you, Mr. Mullin, although I am no expert, I know there are at least three things that sell newspapers today: war, smut, and cutthroat dealing. Dave Lawrence refused to engage in any of these.

I happen to think that New Times is doing our community a service. But there is a time to tear down and a time to build up, and our community could sure use some building up. Next time, Mr. Mullin, try limiting your hortatory writing to about a page and a half, and also try saying something positive, for crying out loud!

Manny Losada
Miami

Lawrence: Animosity Born of Vengeance?
I'm very interested in seeing more specific examples of Jim Mullin's references to Dave Lawrence's "embarrassing inarticulateness" and how Lawrence "badly flubbed it as a publishing executive." I'm not some Herald mole or personal friend of Dave Lawrence. I am, however, an avid reader of both the Miami Herald and New Times, and I really try to respect everyone's written opinion.

It just seems to me that maybe Mr. Mullin and other New Times writers (Jim DeFede for one) harbor some sort of resentment or other unarticulated feelings toward Mr. Lawrence and/or the Herald. Maybe the Herald didn't hire Mr. Mullin or Mr. DeFede. Don't take that as a shot. I'm just trying to rationalize the apparent animosity toward this man and this newspaper.

I would very much like to hear more from Mr. Mullin on this subject as I'm sure there is more he'd like to say. Please fill me in.

Rob Alexander
Miami

Lawrence: Not Such a Nice Guy After All
"Nice Guy, Wrong Job" was excellent and something that needed to be said. Congratulations to Jim Mullin and New Times for having the courage to write and print stories that otherwise would go untold.

Dave Lawrence appears to have sacrificed honor and integrity in his job at the Miami Herald in order to appear compassionate to the community -- a very suspect judgment in my opinion. What we know as readers during Mr. Lawrence's reign is that there was never the undiluted search for truth this community needed. As a result we are left wondering why; was it Mr. Lawrence's ineptness or were others within the news organization or in the business community telling him what his newspapers should or should not be investigating?

Serious journalism needs stewards who are not afraid to print ugly stories about business or political titans who may be just as corrupt as the lowly scam artist who lacks the financial resources to hire fancy attorneys and cannot pick up the phone and call the powerful. Perhaps Mr. Lawrence's true legacy is that he wasn't such a nice guy after all.

Benjamin G. Rae III
Miami

Lawrence: He Got Off Easy
Jim Mullin's story on Dave Lawrence was so good that I felt the need to write. One of Lawrence's friends whom Mr. Mullin didn't mention was Steve Clark. Living in Miami, I have had a chance to see Steve and his lobbyists up close.

Anyway I figured Mr. Mullin used a little professional courtesy to be gentle with Mr. Lawrence. Nice job. Keep it up!

John A. Brennan
Miami

Lawrence: A Bad Mix
I am writing in response to Jim Mullin's detailed and accurate account of the trials and tribulations of recently retired Miami Herald publisher Dave Lawrence.

Mr. Lawrence seemed to mix the business of publishing news with his role as a goodwill ambassador. Judging from Mr. Mullin's account, it seems those roles were diametrically opposed and mixing them was a big mistake.

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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