As new benefactor, Omni area should have more say over Carnival Center, commissioner says
By Risa Polansky
Now that the City of Miami is to be responsible for nearly a half-billion dollars in bailout for the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, one commissioner says governance of the infamously unstable entity should reflect that.
"We need to run it," Commissioner Tomás Regalado said. "It's only fair."
The center's Trust board, its volunteer governing arm, is made up of 41 members — 21 appointed by the county, the rest appointed by the city, School Board and City of Miami Beach.
But if the residents and businesses of the Omni redevelopment area are expected to dedicate to the center about 35% of revenue intended for area improvement — a provision of the "global agreement" recently inked by the city and county — "they need people to at least opine as to how to use the money" that is fed instead to the arts center, Mr. Regalado said.
Trust Chairman Ricky Arriola maintains the existing arrangement is adequate.
"It's a county-owned building," he said. "It's (the board is) comprised of countywide representatives, and I think that's an appropriate structure."
The city is already represented on the board, he pointed out — including by him, the head of the governing body.
Mr. Arriola was appointed by Miami officials prior to being elected chair.
"I think the city has adequate representation," he said.
Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones also represents the city on the board.
She did not respond to a request for comment.
Changing the board's makeup would not change its mission or function, Mr. Arriola said.
"We're all in this together, the city and the county. I don't think the structure of the board is an impediment in any way of us fulfilling our commitment to the city and the county," he said. "We're good corporate citizens to the city and the county equally."
The Trust board's mission, he said, is to "run a great performing arts center."
Mr. Regalado has openly criticized the center, deeming it the county's "white elephant."
During the discussion preceding the city's passage of the sweeping agreement that called for the arts center funding among other large projects, he placed a white elephant figurine on the dais in protest of the bailout.
He was the only commissioner to vote against the package deal.
Meanwhile, a Miami-Dade County Commission committee has voted to tighten its financial oversight of the Carnival Center. for the Performing Arts. The new amendment would give County Manager George Burgess and the commission auditor "more direct say" in the center's business, Assistant County Manager Alex Munoz said. The Trust "is in support of this.
"We're not operating the center by any stretch. It gives us more ability to be involved in the oversight," he said.