Thursday, September 26, 2013

What changes are in store for the Naples Daily News under Manny Garcia?

They continue to head for the exits at the Miami Herald.

The latest to leave is el Nuevo Herald executive editor Manny Garcia.

He'll start work as editor of the Naples Daily News next month.

The announcement yesterday of Garcia's departure comes less than a week after a going away party last Friday for a veteran Herald reporter and editor.

Upon learning of Garcia's resignation, retired Herald staffer Marty Merzer wrote, "There's no getting around it - this is a huge loss for the Herald and its readers and its remaining staffers. (By some counts, this is the seventh loss of an experienced newsroom employee during this calendar year, and there wasn't an abundance of experienced people left at the start of the year.)"

Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse was a colleague of Garcia's at the Herald when both started work at the paper as cub reporters almost a quarter-century ago.

Strouse told me today that Garcia "hustled more than anyone at the paper. He seemed to be everywhere and often wrote two or three stories a day."

In 2001, Garcia collaborated with staffer Amy Driscoll on a series of stories that ultimately helped free a man wrongfully-convicted of murder.

May 27, 2001

Miami homicide detectives charged serial killer suspect Jerry Frank Townsend with two murders 22 years ago - even though Townsend offered details about the killings that clearly contradicted crime-scene evidence, a Herald review shows.

In confessions taped during four days in 1979, Townsend provided police with obviously incorrect information about the murders of Wanda Virga, 44, and Dorothy Gibson, 17 - serious discrepancies police now say should have been red flags during the investigation.

``That confession never should have gotten to the point where it got,'' said Miami Lt. George Cadavid, a veteran investigator who now oversees the homicide unit.

``It's almost like they had blinders on,'' he said. ``The signs were there. Townsend was contradicting himself.''

Townsend, 49, is serving a life sentence in prison for the murders, which are now under review by Miami-Dade prosecutors.
On the other end of the journalism spectrum, Garcia also broke stories, that in the days before Twitter and Facebook, were morning must-reads.

October 24, 1998
by MANNY GARCIA, Herald Staff Writer

Esther Hernandez admits it: She slept with her husband's attorney during Miami's vote-fraud trial.

Given a chance, she says, she ``would do it again.''

Esther Hernandez is the wife of ex-Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernandez. He was jailed earlier this year for covering up fraud in last fall's city elections.

His attorney: Jose Quinon, who has a national reputation for keeping clients out of jail.

Now he may become known for something else: jeopardizing the outcome of the high-profile case by sleeping with his client's wife.

Esther Hernandez said she has no regrets. She plans to divorce Humberto.

``We didn't have a marriage,'' she said. ``Funny thing is, we get along better now. If I sound happy, it's because I am.''

She said she ``cares deeply'' for Quinon, 47, who was separated at the time. He returned home this week.

Quinon isn't talking: He's fighting to stave off lawsuits and disbarment for romancing the wife of his prominent client.

``This is totally out of context with his life,'' said attorney Oscar Rodriguez. ``This has affected Jose tremendously because this is a guy who's strived for perfection his entire career.''

Humberto Hernandez isn't talking either. He declined through a prison spokesman a request for an interview. His mother, Caridad, says he is ``devastated'' by Esther's revelation. ``Only God knows why this happened,'' she said.

In an interview with The Herald late Thursday and Friday, Esther Hernandez, 34, wouldn't say much about how the affair began. ``My motto has always been, I don't kiss and tell,'' she says.

She makes no apology for the relationship.

``If I had to do it again, I would,'' said the Shenandoah Elementary School teacher.

She said she is pretty sure her husband had someone tailing her and Quinon - and knew about the relationship well before it became public.

The couple has since had several marathon jailhouse chats, during which they agreed to divorce amicably. Esther Hernandez says she doesn't want to be the ex-commissioner's wife, but still loves him.

``He is the father of my children,'' she said. The relationship between Quinon and Esther Hernandez became a hot topic in town in mid-September, when they were spotted drinking magaritas and smooching during happy hour at Senor Frogs in Coconut Grove.

Meeting the Naples Daily News staff for the first time today, Garcia said, “I view this team as a diamond in the rough, with a tremendous opportunity to grow and succeed and do even better work.”

Hopefully, relocating to Naples won't be too much of an adjustment for Garcia, who, just a few months ago called Miami "the candy store of American journalism."

Make no mistake about it, some rough days are ahead for Garcia.

For one thing, as far as I can tell, there are just a handful of Cuban restaurants in Naples.

And today, the very paper that Garcia will begin to lead next month, carried evidence that parts of Naples are apparently stuck in some kind of 70s time-warp.

Good luck, Manny. Can't wait to see what you do with the paper!

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