Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Years Ago: Fairchild Tropical Garden and its Dismal Governance … by gimleteye

Just flipping through our archive … remember this, five years ago?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lawsuit planned against Fairchild Garden ... by gimleteye
Although there was a longish story in the Sunday Miami Herald about the protest demonstration outside the gates of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, there was no mention in the Herald that longtime Garden members are organizing a lawsuit to require Fairchild trustees to open its books according to by-laws for members to hold a special meeting of members. "Concerns about inept management, a diversion from the garden's mission of conservation, education and research and a clash between Caroline Lewis and Miami attorney Bruce Greer, president of the Board of Trustees, were also brought out." It doesn't capture how Greer and Garden insiders refused to allow members access to their rights under the by-laws of the organization. Last week, on two occasions members who requested the membership list and other materials were turned away. A letter in the Miami Herald by Hayes Bowen noted the need for term limits for Garden trustees, one of the goals of the special meeting when it occurs. (Letter re-printed below.)

There was a very creepy videographer who taped the entire protest yesterday, getting right up into peoples' faces: when asked, he said he was employed by Bruce Greer and the Trustees of the Garden. It wasn't subtle but does send a message that the Garden is so worried about its future, it is now keeping a visual record of its objectors. Creepy. Very creepy. Here he is.

Change garden's bylaws

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Protesters gather against firing of Fairchild education director

Our beloved Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden has lost its way. Recent actions by its president and board of trustees have brought to light troubling issues with the overall management of this nonprofit organization.

Fairchild once enjoyed respect as a world-renowned botanical garden focused on research, conservation and education. Established by Robert Montgomery in 1938, the garden grew and flourished with a dedicated staff and devoted volunteers. For more than 70 years, the focus was research, collection, propagation and the curatorship of plant species from around the world.

Today one must look past towering sculptures, furry gorillas and a giant Loch Ness Monster before glimpsing what was initially envisioned by Montgomery and David Fairchild. The garden is now a place on the social circuit for black-tie galas, weddings, concerts, art exhibits and other fundraising events.

Department directors, scientist-researchers, curatorial and horticultural staff have left or been terminated and not replaced. Disheartened volunteers and donors are leaving their posts as their purpose, too, has faded. The remaining staffers are demoralized. There appears to be a ``dumbing down''of the garden.

This must be stopped. We must bring back the original mission of the garden to preserve its purpose and value to the local, national and international communities. It's time for garden members to be heard and vote for change. We are more than 40,000 strong and have too much invested to sit by idly. The first course of action is voting for term limits to be added to the by-laws. We need new faces and restorative ideas at the executive-board level. Fairchild's reputation in the botanic world must be preserved before it becomes as endangered as qualified and educated garden staff and volunteers.

Hayes Bowen
Miami, FL


HectorinMiami said...

Let me tell you about one instance of wrongdoing.

A relative of the Matheson known for their commitment for green space and parks died and left her land to Fairchild to be preserved (will was dated in 1970s). This land was known as "The Little Forest". It is located right by the Coconut Grove Metro Rail station.

Some weasel deal happened where the land was sold to a private land speculator with Greer as the signatory. Suspicious really. It was a $300,000+ deal. I would think deals of this size would have to be appealed the board.

The neighborhood wanted the area preserved and today has been sold to yet another speculator who is renting it to the condo developer next door as a parking lot!!!

Thankfully, most of the precious trees of "The Little Forest" are still there. However, that is never guaranteed.

Does the Fairchild board know that the precious land donated to them for safekeeping is being resold at high prices instead of being preserved?? Do they even know what the money was going towards? How many other properties like this one have been sold off??

I think this is scandalous!

Anonymous said...

I too am saddened by the garden's switch from some science to fuzzy quasi science and catering to the social events circle. What use to be a garden accessible to all now with the much higher admission fees is hardly that. I use to renew my membership yearl, not anymore...real shame. About all I like now days is the million orchid project and the pine rockland restoration. Although they did the pineland in the lowlands which is not the right location...thus quasi science.

Anonymous said...

The board of the garden still reflects that old Miami, make no waves and bury all controversy. What a sad legacy given how much potential there was. I used to go often, but don't anymore.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Greer seems like a creep and his son Matt Greer has been under investigation for years over sleazy tax payer financed real estate deals.

Anonymous said...

And so, fraud, waste and abuse are what destroy our once great environmental AND charitable community. Not to mention the great sucking sound of Jorge Perez downtown and the North Miami debacle with their museums...