MIAMI, SUBURBS CRACK DOWN ON NEWS HAWKERS

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Miami Herald Designing News Racks


To many city and suburban officials in southern Florida these days, there’s a
new Miami vice: the proliferation of newspaper street hawkers and news racks.

Miami officials want to replace all freestanding news racks with modular units.
Aventura two weeks ago banned street hawkers from its busiest streets, joining
other suburbs that already have similar ordinances against street sales. And, in
recent weeks, police in Weston have arrested 69 hawkers of The Homeless
Voice, a semimonthly put out by the Helping People in America homeless
shelter in Hollywood.

In response, newspapers – especially The Homeless Voice – are
fighting back. On Feb. 9, the paper sued Hallandale Beach, claiming the city is
discriminating by banning its hawkers while letting vendors continue to sell
The Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, based in Fort
Lauderdale.

Homeless Voice Publisher Sean Cononie said that next week he will file a
lawsuit seeking to overturn the Aventura ordinance and that he would follow with
suits against similar hawker bans in other Broward County and Dade County
suburbs. “I’m a constitutional stickler, and when you start telling me I can
only distribute 20 papers instead of 5,000, you’re restricting my rights,” he
said.

Cononie said his shelter needs the earnings hawkers split with the paper. Barely
a year old, The Homeless Voice sells an estimated 70,000 copies an issue.
In January, he added, the paper generated $122,000 in revenue – enough to
run the shelter for a month.

To some suburban authorities, however, public safety has been threatened by the
addition of Homeless Voice hawkers to the street vendors who for years
have peddled the Herald, the Sun-Sentinel, and such products as
flowers, oranges, and toys. The Homeless Voice stations crews of six
vendors, all wearing bright orange T-shirts and hats, at intersections.

Homeless papers have faced similar problems recently in Cleveland as well as
Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, said Brian Davis, coordinator of the North
American Street Newspaper Association. “Cities think it’s bad for their image to
have people on the street corner selling papers,” he said.

Miami Herald General Counsel Robert Beatty said the paper has not decided
whether to challenge the street-hawker ordinances. But the paper is negotiating
with the City of Miami over a proposal to replace freestanding news racks with
multiple-title racks, he said.

The Herald is designing a modular rack that would meet the paper’s goal
of keeping the distinctive yellow color and logo it uses on all its boxes,
Beatty said. Miami’s 19-page proposed ordinance – clearly crafted to meet
legal challenges – specifies that the entire modular rack be painted a
color it identifies as “Deep Waters.”



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor at large for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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