The misguided Commentary by the KBCF’s Board of Directors in the July 8 Islander was shocking to me! I went back again to watch the last 20 minutes of the June 29 budget workshop to be sure I had my facts straight.
The board’s harsh admonishment of a councilmember doing his job has become a pattern of behavior and an attempt to intimidate and silence our volunteer elected officials.
Our councilmembers are responsible for being good stewards of public monies and for bringing transparency to our government. Elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to perform due diligence, perform reasonable oversight, and practice fiscal responsibility. Our elected council members have a duty to scrutinize the expenditures of public funds.
We all emphatically agree that the KBCF does great things. Its charitable projects enrich our quality of life. For years the Village of Key Biscayne has enjoyed a productive partnership with the KBCF. But this does not mean that the Key Biscayne Community Foundation can operate above the law and without public scrutiny.
As a private entity, the KBCF is not required to follow transparency rules such as the Florida Sunshine Laws. However, “even if you are working with a private entity, if you are working on behalf of the state, a county, a city, etc. you can still fall under the purview of the Sunshine Law” 1
The easiest way to answer the question “Does the non-profit fall under the Florida Sunshine Laws?” Is to follow the money. When a nonprofit receives money from a government to carry out duties on behalf of the government it creates a fiduciary link between the two. The nonprofit essentially becomes part of the municipal government and is required to follow the rules of the government.
The KBCF is a private entity that frequently acts as an extension of our government by providing services traditionally provided by the government, such as COVID testing and the FreeBee transportation service. The KBCF also manages and administers close to a million tax dollars in in community programs and services - $300,000 as fiscal agents for the community groups $125,000 for unspecified use, $50,000 to $100,000 estimated additional special projects, $500,000, FreeBee.
Instituting a policy of transparency or following the Sunshine Laws would be best practices for the Foundation. I do not believe they can be true Community Partners until that happens.
Dear KBCF Board, you owe our elected council members and taxpayers an apology!
Betty Sime Conroy
Betty Sime Conroy is a longtime resident of Key Biscayne, two term council member, and former vice chairperson of the Charter Writing Committee.
1 J. Mason Williams Jan 25, 2013 “Florida’s Sunshine Law vol. 2 Who and What Does It Cover?”