Longform

Q & A With Bob Kunst

Page 4 of 6

The interesting thing is that for all this piddly shit that was going on, it was not just one front-page story, it was twenty stories. All this real scandal going on all over the place and it barely gets any coverage, and I get twenty stories. I'm honored, except for the fact that there was a malicious purpose, which was to get me out of the way.

If you were paying operating expenses out of your own pocket, why didn't you just cut down on the travel and use some of that money?

The county, and every one of the governments we deal with, knew from the very beginning that we were doing it differently, that we were international in scope. Everything that I was bringing back was information on how to keep my clients alive. The idea was that the more people started talking about this like it was some emergency instead of politics as usual, the more they would cough up the dollars to be able to deal with our own crisis. So the impact of being able to get this message across is enormous. I think we were getting our money's worth.

Your critics blamed the financial crisis on everything from travel bills to unauthorized use of funds and no documentation of donations. They say the rent and bills hadn't been paid.

It's all bull. All the checks we needed came in that week, anyway. The first round with the Herald fell on its ass. Even though it was damaging on one hand, nobody believed it. July was a month of terror, but we felt everything was resolved. The county, which was the biggest bitch because Gersten is making political hay with the whole thing, comes in and does an audit. They come up with five points: First, we need to make sure there are no paid staff members on the board, so I immediately resigned as acting chair. Fine. Secondly, we needed to have new bylaws making sure we had strong oversight by an independent board. Third, we need to send a copy of the bylaws to the IRS. Fourth, we need to give the county a budget for the next year, which was going to be the exact same $330,000 we had - Mr. Gersten, in spite of all of his protests about wanting to save a life, he's so full of shit it's unbelievable. And finally, we needed to separate the duties of executive employees and boardmembers.

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.

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William Labbee