Published: Oct. 7, 2007 Breach of Trust
Series' findings anger readers
BY MICHAEL SALLAH
investigative editor, The Miami Herald

Shortly after The Miami Herald published the first installment of the Poverty Peddler investigative series last Sunday, the newspaper's website was flooded with emails from readers reacting to the stories.

By the time the four-day series ended on Wednesday, The Herald had received dozens of letters, phone calls and emails -- a sampling which appears in the next few pages of this section.

An overwhelming number expressed anger over the newspaper's findings, which revealed the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust spent millions of dollars on insider deals and risky loans that created few promised jobs.

The newspaper's investigation by reporters Scott Hiaasen and Jason Grotto showed the anti-poverty agency steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies owned by board members and politically connected business leaders.

Some readers called for county commissioners and officials, who created the Empowerment Trust in 1999, to be held accountable. Others worried the stories would breed more mistrust in government programs aimed at helping the county's poor.

"Each time a new scandal hits the papers, the work of the real public servants gets harder," remarked Helene B. Dudley of Miami in a letter.

Read on for a sampling of what readers say about the series, which can be read in the earlier segments of this online package.