Commissionersnot County Managerto Choose Trade Center Leader
By Suzy Valentine
The next chairman of Miami-Dade County’s international trade agency – slated to take office in 2007 – is to be chosen by county commissioners and not the county manager.
The county commission agreed Tuesday to change procedure for appointing a head of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium to succeed Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, whose term expires Dec. 31, 2006.
Commissioners provided further directions on how the body is run, agreeing that:
County Manager George Burgess should be responsible for recruiting an executive director, with his recommendation subject to ratification by the commission.
The consortium should provide a better account of its economic impact – as requested by Commissioner Katy Sorenson – rather than relying on projections.
A representative of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa should become a member of the body – a proposal made by Commissioner Dennis Moss.
Mr. Diaz, who has been chairman of the consortium since 2002, offered his resignation at the commission meeting, but his peers refused to accept it.
"There’s always room on these boards for new blood to come in," he said, offering support to his successor. "I will resign based upon the time that it takes to provide for the new chair. I will help that chair, and I will be active in the community of international trade. I’ve been asked by several other entities to move into that position, and I’m looking into it."
"Your resignation is not accepted at this time," said Commission Chairman Joe Martinez.
Ms. Sorenson called for greater transparency from the consortium, which for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 estimated that its outreach efforts generated more than $300 million in economic impact for the county.
"We need to know tangibly what comes out of these activities," she said. "They’re not just activities, they’re goals and results."
Figures for the consortium are due for review, a senior county administrator interjected.
"We audit the Beacon Council and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau about every three years," said Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson, "and we are going to do that for the ITC internally. That audit will take place, and it will get to the heart of what you’re asking for."
Though commissioners have seized Mr. Burgess’s power to appoint a chairman of the consortium, they called on him to recruit the staff.
"I agree that the county manager shouldn’t be making the appointment of the chairperson," Ms. Sorenson said. "I do think, however, that it would make sense for the county manager to hire a professional executive director. It makes sense for him to appoint a professional administrator to conduct that supervision and oversight."
Her colleague gave some pointers on the suitable candidate.
"You need someone that can bring business in," said Mr. Martinez. "George (Burgess) could work out the best numbers, do all kinds of stuff, but if I send him out with his nice humble little wit to bring business down here, Harry Potter could not do it."