Arts center head accepts blame for delay in loan proposal
By Suzy Valentine
The chairman of the Miami Performing Arts Center resolved to succeed when a request to defer payment of $20 million to Miami-Dade County returns to the county commission April 25.
The resolution, which hit an obstacle last week, would have given the center's trust and its foundation an extension of 10 months, until Aug. 4 - the scheduled completion date for the venue on Biscayne Boulevard - to pay the county. The overdue installment of private-sector construction funding was to be paid Sept. 30.
The move to defer payment failed March 23 after commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Rebeca Sosa and Natacha Seijas invoked the four-day rule, saying they had received insufficient notice of the item - something Parker Thomson said Tuesday could have been avoided had preparatory steps been taken.
"I take full responsibility for it. We did not do our job," Mr. Thomson told fellow board members Tuesday. "We did not meet with the individual county commissioners and explain to them what was on the agenda, why it was significant and what we were trying to accomplish. We left the county commissioners without the basic knowledge to vote. That is our fault."
Next time, said Mr. Thomson, the package must include revised trust documents.
"We must do our job this time on informing the commissioners," he said. "What we left off were the new articles and new bylaws."
Those changes include:
nIncreasing arts center board directors from 32 to 40 and correspondingly increasing community representatives from seven to 15.
nAllowing the Performing Arts Center Trust to play a greater advisory role to the appointing authorities to its board of directors. Board members heard Tuesday how the center wanted to de-politicize the selection process involving the county and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach.
nRemoving from existing articles matters relating to internal management such as meeting requirements, procedures for handling vacancies, responsibilities of committees and the election of officers from the board.
nRevising terms and references such as Metropolitan Dade - the former name of local government - to Miami-Dade and arts center executive director to president, also the current title.
nClarifying the distinction between directors and non-voting members.
nChanging the address of the president and secretary.
Mr. Thomson proposed that he and the board members appointed by the 13 county commissioners could, together with center President Michael Hardy, meet the commissioners to explain the rationale for the payment deferral.
"It's our job to do what we didn't do," he said. "All other items were passed. That was not."
Actions regarding the center the commission did approve March 23 included:
nA change order that increases the current construction contract amount for the $446 million arts center by $38.3 million, raising the center's total hard cost to $484.3 million, and retroactively approves acceleration and recovery efforts to meet completion date.
nA change order that earmarks no more than $4.2 million for systems and finishes: $833,731 for interior finishes for the former Sears Tower that is connected to one of the two center buildings; $50,000 for robotic cameras; $2.1 million to buy and install stage wagons; $91,000 for acoustic changes to the rehearsal hall; $20,000 for the banquet rooms; $20,000 for a shower room conversion; $12,433 for the performers' lounge; $185,756 for an office conversion; $625,609 for telecommunications, and $256,077 for contingencies.