Friday, September 18, 2015


Ron Book should have stepped down long ago as head of the Miami Homeless Trust after he created the Julia Tuttle Causeway Sex Offender Camp, aka Bookville. The poop map should have the largest poop icon right over Ron Book's corporate office.


FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015

A nasty dispute over the public-toilet needs of Miami's homeless population — and the question of who should pay for them — ramped up again yesterday. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the agency in charge of promoting Miami business, unveiled new evidence in its battle with another agency, the Homeless Trust, and its chairman, Ron Book, over public toilets: A "poop map." 

The map shows, with smiling brown emoticons, the locations throughout downtown Miami of 55 specimens of human feces that were catalogued within one recent eight-hour period. The highest concentration was found in the downtown core, around the intersections between Flagler Street and NE First Street with NE Second Avenue. There was also a cluster of the little brown guys in west downtown, at NW First Street and NW First Avenue.

As the Miami Herald points out, the release of the map was timed to coincide with a county commission vote on funding of a Camillus House shelter program; county commissioners later directed Book to study new programs. The move came after months of very public — and increasingly personal — squabbling between the two agencies over the issue of funding for downtown toilets.

In a statement yesterday, DDA executive director Alyce Robertson praised her agency's initiative on downtown homelessness and criticized the Homeless Trust, saying the agency "has resorted to passing the buck and ignoring the problem." In one email copied to city media outlets, Jose Goyanes, a board member of the DDA, said Book was "running the Trust like a third world dictator."

Earlier this week, incensed that Book opposed Homeless Trust funding for a $100,000 public-toilet pilot program, Goyanes also released a YouTube video with dozens of images of feces and urine. "This is a health crisis," Goyanes wrote in the email containing the video he sent to reporters. "And Ron Book, Victoria Mallette & The Miami Dade Homeless Trust with their $55 Million Dollar Budget won't do anything about it."

Book later told New Times he refused to even look at the video. “I'm sick of the personal attacks," he said, furious, after yesterday's meeting, the Herald reported. "Let someone else chair the thing."

But the megalobbyist later said he was caught up in the heat of the moment and isn't going anywhere.

"I will not be giving up my chairmanship or my seat on the board," he tells New Times. "They’ll have to carry me out first. I am not going to let these folks drive me out just so they can be right and get their way."

As for the homeless, any solution that would lead to more public-toilet options looks unlikely in the short term. Expect that poop map to expand.

Book replied to New Times' request for comment with the following response:

"I chose not to look at Mr. Goyanes’ video. Mr. Goyanes seems to believe that the Homeless Trust is responsible for anything and everything involving homeless individuals, and he is simply mistaken. We are not going to be putting toilets or showers in downtown Miami, which we believe serves to deter getting the chronic homeless, off the streets. We’ve looked at this several times over the last 10 to 12 years and we are just not doing it."

Still, while the Trust has reduced homeless over time to about 4,000 in Miami, there remain about 1,000 on the streets, with some 600 living in Miami boundaries. And while Book has dug in his heels, so too have Miami officials. James Bernat, the city’s police coordinator, staunchly defends the program, and Commissioner and DDA Chairman Marc Sarnoff is one of Camillus House’s biggest boosters and fundraisers.

“Where do 600 people go to the bathroom everyday? Well there’s a map to show you where 600 people go to the bathroom everyday,” said Sarnoff, who displayed the DDA’s map on television. “This is a countywide issue, as you’ll see.”

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