If it’s not one thing, it’s another thing.

But the one thing you can be sure of, in North Miami…

It's always something

Miami Herald reporters might as well just set up their own news desk in the lobby of North Miami City Hall.

Between the arrest and suspension of the Mayor a couple of weeks ago, the planning of a special election to replace her, the naming of a new City Manager last week, a new Chief of Police today, and the ongoing saga of the city’s battle with the board of trustees of its museum (see here, here, here and here), the Miami Herald and other reporters (as well as the blogger) have been earning their paychecks (except for the blogger) covering all the stories.

And that’s not even including coverage of typical North Miami news like murders and other city business, such as legislating speed limits, fighting with the School Board over charter schools, and shutting down pony rides.

Then, of course, there’s the unending Kevin Burns Residency Lawsuit that keeps making last year’s City Council election today’s headlines.

If that weren’t enough news to keep up with, the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art (affectionately/known/as MOCA) keeps coming up with innovative ways to make North Miamians pay for the sin of being “working-class.”

It now appears that the board has conspired with “a handful of art collectors who donated” to MOCA in an extremely transparent attempt to further aggravate the situation.  This is despite a judge’s directive to enter into mediation in an attempt to work out a settlement “that could include alternatives to a merger with the Bass.”

Obviously, the board isn’t interested in any alternatives to leaving North Miami.  They made it perfectly clear they want out.  The sooner the better.

A Miami Herald article posted today, MOCA donors: We gave to museum, not city of North Miami, reports:

“In a motion filed late Tuesday in the museum board’s lawsuit against the city, the collectors sought to explain the “intent behind their donations, which was always to donate to MOCA, the 501 (c)(3), and not to the city.”

The motion says that the donors took advantage of tax benefits by giving art and money to the nonprofit, and that they “could face potentially significant negative tax consequences” if the art were to remain with the city.”

An attorney for the board now claims that “grants that were expected are not coming in and some donors are no longer giving” because of the dispute.

Missing from this equation is the FACT that it was the board who started this dispute in the first place, not the City of North Miami.

The Knight Foundation already withdrew its $5 million endowment grant, and the board’s attorney, Alan Kluger, is claiming that “many other donors have contacted his office and will likely add their names to the suit.”

And I am so sure they’ve had absolutely no prompting by any member of the board of trustees of the museum.

Oh, puh-LEEZE!  Is that bridge in Brooklyn still for sale, too?

Kluger accuses North Miami of making “a grab for this art,” then warns that “these people will all get on the witness stand” to claim their intent was to donate to the museum and not to the city.

Oh, I’m sure they will.

Because no one ever lies on the witness stand.

And neither do lawyers.

In an email to the Herald, North Miami spokeswoman Pam Solomon reminded the board that “the museum — not the board of trustees — owns the collection” and that “the board still has to answer to the city.”

For good measure, Solomon reiterated the museum’s own mission statement, “which is to serve the community by ‘making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences — especially underserved populations.’”

Nowhere does it say that the museum’s mission is to make the art “accessible to the rich and famous audiences of Miami Beach.”

By far, though, the most ridiculous premise of the donors’ motion is the preposterous claim that they “took advantage of tax benefits by giving art and money to the nonprofit, and that they ‘could face potentially significant negative tax consequences’ if the art were to remain with the city.”

A recent article in the New York Times reported, “The city established the museum as a nonprofit corporation, in part so that gifts would be tax deductible, and created a board of trustees to operate the museum on its behalf.”

What this obviously means is that donors enjoy tax benefits because they gave their “art and money to the nonprofit” established by the City of North Miami.  The nonprofit was not established by a board of trustees, which itself was created by the city in the first place.

The donors will receive their tax deductions, regardless of where the nonprofit entity is located.

That the board is unhappy with the nonprofit corporation being located in the City of North Miami doesn’t have anything to do with where the donated art is housed, whether it be it in North Miami or Miami Beach.

Seriously, just how stupid does the board of trustees think the rest of us are?

Apparently, not stupid enough!

Let’s just hope the judge will also see through the artful deception.

No pun intended, of course.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

 

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10 Comments

  1. Ned says:

    Thank you for Stephanie for directing our attention to most important issues facing North Miami … MOCA Museum, appointment of a professional city manager, and city manager’s first act is appointing a permanent police chief …. Hopefully, the citizens of North Miami can elect adult & mature leadership instead of tired candidates like an old 1980’s late night soap opera or a bunch of glue factory race horses

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      You’re welcome. And good luck with that election!

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  2. ELLEN says:

    The City of North Miami NEEDS an independent forensic financial audit of every department for the last 5 years!

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    1. barbix says:

      looks like carol says it will be on the June 10th agenda.

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  3. Adrienne von lates says:

    You are wiser then the Herald reporters. The MOCA board wants to merge with a museum that is a partly funded by the city of Miami Beach. Nobody is asking the city officials of Miami Beach about their relationship with the Bass. The city owns that collection because they created the bass as a non profit to get the gift of John bass’ s art collection. So how is that different from the situation in North Miami.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      I don’t know that I’m wiser. I’m just lucky I get to write my opinion, as opposed to simply reporting the news without bias. I have the more exciting “job,” but they get paid for their efforts. (I guess it’s a trade-off, right?)

      More importantly, everyone had better hope that North Miami’s lawyers are wiser than all of us, and vigorously defend this lawsuit from all aspects. You brought up an EXCELLENT point. Obviously, the donors would not lose their tax deductions by remaining in North Miami. That was such a bogus excuse!

      All of this blustering by the plaintiffs clearly shows the board’s and the donors’ intent, despite whatever they plan to say “on the witness stand.” The fact remains that in their eyes, North Miami isn’t good enough or prestigious enough for them. As I’ve said before, this lawsuit is nothing but a ruse to leave North Miami without looking like the insufferable snobs they are.

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  4. omar says:

    So how long will it take for the city to establish a new board?

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  5. Ned says:

    Somebody should get Mayor Levine on the stand … I see his sneaky way in securing the outstanding MOCA art collection for a cheap price …

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  6. Jerry says:

    In defense of the noble, selfless efforts to relocate the museum: It looks like without such drastic changes, the city, state and country could be flooded with more starving artists and starving art collectors.

    Our national economic doldrums are bad enough without encouraging conditions that force rich people to suffer for their art donations.

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  7. […] during the month of June:  The MOCA battle raged on, and on, and on., while the man who would be director quietly made plans for the museum’s […]

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