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Audit raises accountability questions over Coleman Theater - KOAM TV 7

Audit raises accountability questions over Coleman Theater in Miami

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A state audit raises questions on how a major Miami, Oklahoma attraction is run.  Currently the Coleman Theater is operated by the Miami Downtown Redevelopment Authority (MDRA).  But a recent audit says there isn't enough cross checks between it and the city.

From it's carved wood to iconic architecture, the Coleman Theater has been referenced as the gem of Miami since 1929.

"I probably started going to this theater when I was four or five years old," says Brent Brassfield, a board member of the MDRA.  "Each of us in this community that have been here a long time have different memories in this theater."

Members of the MDRA have long been in charge of keeping the theater up and running but a recent state audit revealed that approvals were not being asked of the city.  The state requires city over site because the group is considered a quasi-government entity and must comply with governmental rules.

"Those are some of the allegations that appropriate approvals were not asked for at times, there are some concerns about the ability to have internal controls as it relates to cash management," says City Manager Jeff Bishop.

To fix the situation Bishop says the MDRA had two options: allow the city to play a more active role in the authority or to dissolve and set up as a non-profit.

"The Coleman itself is a remarkable gem that the community has - this is basically just an accountability issue," says Bishop.

The council unanimously approved an amendment that would see the MDRA go from seven members to five, and place two members from the city council permanently as the Chair and Vice Chair.  Now it is up to the MDRA to decide whether to agree to the amendment.

"Regardless of the direction we go in, but yes, the logistics of the running of the theater, it is very complicated when you start talking about changing responsibilities and that sort of thing," says Brassfield.

The MDRA says it will present the city's amendment to the group's attorney and try to reach an arrangement both parties can support.

The city has asked the MDRA to make a decision by the July 2nd city council meeting and say a meeting between the two parties attorney's will be set up in the meantime to work on a solution.

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