Nader said he is coordinating visits of local students to see the exhibit, which takes up a portion of the gallerys second floor. The rest of the building is mostly devoted to Naders private collection, although he does sell pieces valued between $200,000 and $10 million.
The daily presence of an on-duty police officer in the gallerys parking lot was first reported in December by blogger Al Crespo. Following up on a request from Crespo, City Commissioner Francis Suarez asked Orosa about the issue at last Thursdays commission meeting.
I dont know whats happening, and it was a legitimate question that was posed to me, Suarez said. Whenever a citizen or resident or someone who cares about our government has a concern that . . .
Orosa interrupted: Or a convicted felon.
For several seconds, there was silence in the commission chambers. During the 1960s and 1970s, Crespo spent 20 years in prison for robbing banks. Now, the 71-year-old blogs about problems in the citys government, routinely targeting city leaders such as Regalado, Orosa and Suarez.
Finally, Suarez said: Listen, when you get a public-records request, I dont think you treat anyone differently, right?
The chief responded that the departments attorneys deal with such requests.
On Tuesday, Regalado said he thought it was a fair use of city funds to provide special police attention to the art gallery, especially because school groups can visit for free.
And that collection would be so tempting for criminals, he added. Ive been worried since Day One that something would happen, which would be catastrophic for the citys image.
Nader said the city was right to provide the free protection.
The cost of maintaining a police officer outside is minimal when compared to the hundreds of hours Ive spent to bring the collection here, Nader said. This is my gift to Miami for supporting me for 30 years and helping me become the most important art collector in the city.
The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.