[Hpn] Homeless Voice LAWSUIT - Police arrest 69 streetpaper vendors
Thu, 22 Feb 2001 22:50:16 -0800 (PST)
Several South Florida cities have passed or proposed laws to sweep away
Homeless Voice street newspaper vendors. In recent weeks, police in Weston
have ARRESTED 69 Homeless Voice hawkers.
FWD Editor & Publisher - Wednesday February 21 08:02 PM EST
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
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
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 is editor at large for E&P. ]
FWD Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel / Web-posted: 11:55 p.m. Feb. 21, 2001
SUIT MAY LEAD TO NEWSPAPER STREET SALE BAN
By Vicky Agnew
HALLANDALE BEACH -- If the city can't resolve its legal battle with the
founder of a homeless newspaper, officials may consider banning all
newspaper vendors from city streets, City Attorney Mark Goldstein said.
The city is embroiled in a lawsuit brought recently by Sean Cononie,
founder of the Homeless Voice, a newspaper that advocates the rights of the
homeless and is sold at intersections throughout south Florida. Cononie is
suing the city over its law restricting charitable organizations from
soliciting for more than five consecutive days a year.
Cononie said his paper has a 70,000 circulation, and is a legitimate
publication. Other papers, like the Sun-Sentinel, sell in the
intersections, and he's entitled to the same right, he said.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Norman Roettger issued a temporary
restraining order, which allowed Cononie's vendors to sell on city streets.
But on Sunday, city police tried to run his vendors off and threatened to
arrest them, Cononie said.
Police have said the vendors were interfering with traffic and didn't have
Cononie said Wednesday his attorney has sent an affidavit of Sunday's
incident to Roettger, alleging the city violated his order.
The matter of the restraining order is set to go before Roettger on March
5, when Goldstein said he would ask the judge to dissolve it. In the
meantime, Cononie has said he will keep his vendors out of the city, and
the city commission said police should leave the vendors alone while the
lawsuit is pending.
If Roettger rules against the city, Goldstein said he would ask city
commissioners for permission to appeal the ruling with the 11th Circuit
Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Goldstein said he would discuss the matter
with city commissioners March 1.
If the city loses its legal battles, Goldstein said he would ask city
commissioners to consider banning all newspaper vendors from selling on
"Frankly, I feel boxed in at this time," Goldstein said. "I'm sure in my
mind there is a factual difference between the Homeless Voice and .... the
Sun-Sentinel, but if I reach the conclusion that it's an all-or-nothing
proposition, that everyone has to be in the streets or no one, I would turn
that over to commission."
Sun-Sentinel spokesman Rich Pollack defended the paper's sales methods.
"We recognize that the city has concerns about safety, but we don't believe
our methods of delivering the paper to our readers compromises that
safety," Pollack said. "As always, we welcome the opportunity to discuss
this matter with the city attorney and other appropriate city officials."
The City of Sunrise has been enforcing a no-street vendors state law since
1986, city attorney Jeff Olson said. "There have been numerous accidents
including deaths involving newspaper vendors in Broward County," he said.
[ Staff Writer Jeff Shields contributed to this report. ]
FWD New Times Broward-Palm Beach Online / 2001-01-25
BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE
Cities that try to restrict the sale of Homeless Voice
hear from the voluble Sean Cononie
Word on the street: Commissioners in several South Florida cities
have proposed laws to sweep away Homeless Voice vendors
By Amy Roe
Exhaust wafts from tailpipes and mingles with the acrid stench of sun-baked
asphalt. It is a crossroads: In the middle of rush hour at the intersection
of Broward Boulevard and Federal Highway, there's a confluence of classes,
a face-to-face exchange between rich and poor.
Homeless Voice vendors are often seen (and sometimes heard) here, though
their product is not so much a scream from the streets as a whisper to the
collective conscience of commuters. To buy it, motorists simply wait for a
vendor in a bright orange-and-black T-shirt to stride down their line of
Today, however, a female driver doesn't seem to see the salesman. More
likely she is pretending not to notice. He may be saying something, or
perhaps he's merely mouthing the words. With engine idling and CD player
playing, who can tell?
The distracted drivers aren't buying, but Cononie's ragtag team of once
(and sometimes future) homeless vendors are smiling anyway. They know
things could be worse. Elsewhere a backlash against their work is
burgeoning. In the past two years, at least five Broward and Miami-Dade
cities have considered ordinances to restrict the sale of Homeless Voice.
Cononie is now filing a lawsuit against Hallandale Beach. What was once a
simple transaction has turned into a showdown.
The 16-page tabloid is a mishmash of fact, opinion, and personal history;
it's a twice-a-month digest of life on and (barely) off the streets.
Published by the COSAC Foundation, Sean Cononie's Hollywood-based nonprofit
agency, the paper examines hard-knock lives in stark but optimistic terms.
Proceeds go to COSAC's Hollywood shelter, the area's largest provider of
emergency beds for the homeless. Cononie started the charity in 1997,
bankrolling it with half a million dollars in worker's comp settlements he
received in 1983 and 1990 after taking a fall while working as a security
In 1999 he started the newspaper, which now has a circulation of 70,000.
Its pages contain success stories and Bible-tinged testimonials. Cheerful
reminders and commonsense advice from local social service professionals
are rife; occasionally a poem appears. Once Cononie, a boyish, heavyset man
of 36 years, contributed a heartfelt essay about his childhood reverence
for actor Lee Majors, a local supporter of homeless rights.
But over the past two years, police officers in Hallandale Beach (which has
no antivending ordinance) have repeatedly kept his vendors from selling
there, Cononie says. Fort Lauderdale attorney John David is handling
Cononie's case against the southeastern Broward County city. David, who
last year represented homeless advocate Arnold Abbott in his unsuccessful
quest to continue feeding the homeless on Fort Lauderdale beach, says he'll
file a federal lawsuit against Hallandale Beach this week, citing
discrimination and violation of his client's First Amendment rights.
"We're suing them because they're preventing my clients from selling a
newspaper [that] represents a political point of view," David explains.
Moreover, he says Homeless Voice is unfairly singled out: "At the same
time, they don't restrict The Herald and the Sun-Sentinel."
Legal action is a last resort, David says. In September, he claims, he sent
a letter to the city: "We asked them to stop and they didn't."
However, Hallandale Beach city attorney Michael Goldstein says he never
received the missive. "I've not heard from [Cononie], and his name doesn't
ring a bell. And I haven't heard anything from my people about that."
In fact the impending court battle is only the latest development in a
series of apparent attempts to sweep Homeless Voice vendors off the
In 1997, in a stated effort to protect fundraising schoolchildren, city
commissioners in Davie and Pembroke Pines considered ordinances that would
have restricted soliciting donations on the street. After Cononie spoke
before both commissions, officials eventually agreed Homeless Voice workers
were selling papers, not soliciting donations, and exempted them from the
restrictions. Vendors continue to sell in both places.
But that hasn't kept other cities from trying to stop Cononie's crews. In
May 1999 Weston police arrested six vendors for violating the city's laws
against soliciting donations. Officers said some vendors weren't carrying
the newspaper, which was, and still is, marked "$1 donation." The charges
were later dropped, but the issue re-ignited in October 2000, when Weston
commissioners gave final approval to a controversial measure banning
vendors along five major roads.
Cononie says he may challenge that ordinance in court, too. He's also had
skirmishes with Miramar, a city he says has flip-flopped its position on
vendors. "Miramar said, "No, you can't do it,' about a year and half ago.
John David contacted them, and Miramar said, "Feel free to solicit; we were
never stopping you.' We went back out there, and they started to stop us
Miramar city attorney Jamie Cole says if such an incident occurred, it must
have been a misunderstanding. "We talked to the police about that. Miramar
doesn't prohibit any of the newspapers [from being sold at intersections].
Bottom line, we don't treat [Homeless Voice] any differently than The Miami
Herald and Sun-Sentinel."
Cononie has already won one battle. When Hollywood commissioners last year
considered an ordinance that would've restricted where roadside peddlers
could stand, Cononie joined forces with The Miami Herald and the
Sun-Sentinel to oppose the proposal. Fearing it would not withstand a
constitutional challenge, commissioners backed down, rejecting the
ordinance in a 4-to-3 vote.
Earlier this month Cononie persuaded the City of Aventura to reject an
ordinance that would have kept his vendors off the streets of that burg.
Commissioners agreed to hold a workshop on the issue and return with a
proposal that would not prohibit the sale of the newspaper.
The turnabout was in part due to impassioned opposition by Commissioner Jay
Beskin, a Davie attorney. "At bottom I think the purpose of this ordinance
is insidious," Beskin says. "It's to keep people we don't want in Aventura
out of Aventura. We want to keep newspaper [vendors] who are not homeless
but [are] close to homeless out of Aventura. We can't differentiate between
different types of vendors because of the content of what they're vending.
[The proposed ordinance] is a blot and a stain on the people of the City of
Likewise Cononie says Hallandale Beach's response reflects poorly on that
city. He says he can't figure out why officials resist his vendors'
presence, particularly after other cities have grudgingly accepted them.
"Maybe," Cononie says with a sigh that belies his usual feistiness, "they
just think they're better than everyone else."
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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FWD Miami Herald - Wednesday, February 14, 2001
JUDGE ALLOWS HOMELESS VENDORS BACK IN HOLLANDALE
BY GRIFF WITTE
Vendors of the Homeless Voice will be back on the streets in Hallandale
Beach today after a federal judge allowed them to return to work pending
the result of a lawsuit.
Published Thursday, February 8, 2001, in the Miami Herald
Newspaper hawkers show their scorn for Aventura vending ban
BY DANIEL A. GRECH
In a show of defiance against an Aventura ban on street vending at its
busiest intersections, Homeless Voice newspaper hawkers stationed at a
four-way stop sign just outside of the exclusive Williams Island condominium
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