The Miami Beach Commission officially passed its’ “cures” to the Sunshine Laws violations it may have committed regarding the evaluation committees of the Lincoln Lane Request for Proposal and the Convention Center District Request for Qualifications.
Evaluation committees for the two projects had previously deliberated in a closed meeting and will now reevaluate the bidders in the public light, curing the city from possible litigation.
In the October 3rd meeting of the Miami Beach Finance and Citywide Projects Committee, commissioners heard from the city’s legal staff who felt the original closed-meeting deliberations of the RFP and RFQ left Miami Beach vulnerable to a possible lawsuit. While admitting no fault, Chief Deputy City Attorney Raul Aguila urged commissioners to pass these cures as an insurance policy against any possible suit that could side track the projects by about 6 to 8 months a piece.
The Convention Center District will keep the same evaluation committee, while Lincoln Lane will receive a new one. Complains about a possible conflict of interest among the committee were logged by a bidder. The City Attorney’s office has said that claim has no merit. Still a new committee will evaluate the Lincoln Lane project.
As previously reported in the SunPost’s October 4th issue: the heart of the matter is a new exemption to the Sunshine Law that was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2011 and took effect on June 2nd of that year. Typically Sunshine laws allow public access to the meetings and records of governing bodies. The 2011 exemption, passed through House Bill 7223, provides an exemption from public records requirements for bids, proposals, or replies submitted as part of a competitive solicitation.
The city’s legal staff is confident a literal reading of the statute will vindicate them, but close to no case studies exist on this new issue.