In public interest, unveil fund to aid minority Bayside shops
By Michael Lewis
When Executive Director Dwayne Wynn last week refused Miami
Today's request to reveal Bayside Minority Foundation fund use, claiming
the foundation is private, he was ignoring both law and history.
Law is clear, as columnist Brian Foss notes below in listing CEO salaries for key nonprofits. In fact, Bayside foundation Internal Revenue Service filings through 2005 are online.
History also proves the foundation's public role. It was formed at city behest for a shopping hub on city-owned land to transparently aid black-owned businesses. The city appoints some members.
When initial mall operator Rouse Co. won the site in competition with
department store giant JMB/Federated, the city insisted on local minorities'
part-ownership and store leases.
On opening in 1987 minority owners were developer Armando Codina,
developer Ignacio Garcia, banker Raul Masvidal, black-focused-newspaper
publisher Garth Reeves and architect Ronald Frazier. So closely did Miami
guard minority participation that the city commission had to approve Mr.
Masvidal's later share sale to downtown real estate owner Natan Rok.
The city required that local minorities lease half the storefronts. Blacks and
Hispanics each were to get about 45. Rouse carefully listed which stores
were local and what minority controlled each.
Indeed, in 1986, a year before opening, James Dausch, vice president in
charge, said 279 blacks and 184 Hispanics had applied and six blacks and
three Hispanics had won the first minority storefronts.
"We're known for putting first-time operators into business," Rouse Vice
President John Mastin had told the city-appointed Bayside Minority Tenants
Blue Ribbon Committee in 1985. "It's one of our strong points, introducing
new faces that you don't see anywhere else."
To make certain fledgling minorities would succeed, the city, the county and Rouse funded a $6 million minority participation loan pool. The foundation to support the minority store operators got $100,000 a year from the mall's operator — and still does.
Nonetheless, black business operators, targeted at 45 in 1987, fell from 24
by 1992 to just four in 2002.
''I was there when the city created the foundation," Carole Ann Taylor, one
of Bayside's first black store operators, said in 2002. "It was created to
provide technical and financial assistance to minority-owned businesses
going to Bayside. But when I asked for help, they said they did not provide
financial help to anybody."
It is that minority foundation that now refuses to tell the city, Miami Today
or anyone else how it is spending money geared to keep minorities —
primarily black tenants — operating.
This is hardly a private affair. Public interest clearly requires transparency.
The mall operator seeks changes. The city commission wants state attorney
intervention. The few minority tenants left apparently lack vital help.
But the city attorney's office, where the issue rests, has yet to seek help
Why isn't the city acting today?