Miami-Dade County's dilemma: hire 4 lobbyists for Washington, or 3, or maybe 5?
By Ashley Hopkins
Miami-Dade commissioners are to decide Sept. 10 whether to accept an administration recommendation and award four Washington lobbying contracts instead of three, a move that may require the county to spend $150,000 that was to be set aside for related work orders and optional services.
While the commission determined it should cap contracts at three, an evaluation/selection committee rated and ranked all proposals and allowed the top seven firms to make oral presentations on why they should be hired. After that, the firms were re-rated and re-ranked, and the top three were recommended to the commission for negotiation.
If selected, the firms would represent Miami-Dade before the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.
On June 10 the commission's Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Committee asked that the firms ranked fourth (Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson P.A., based in Orlando) and fifth (Cardenas Partners LLC, based in Tallahassee) be included, said Victoria Mallette, county communications director.
The committee requested additional funding to contract with these two firms at the same rate as the three others — Alcalde & Fay, based in Arlington, VA; Patton Boggs LLP, based in Washington; and Greenberg Traurig P.A., based in Miami — but said if added resources couldn't be found, the contract should be renegotiated to distribute available funds equally among the five firms.
The award recommendation allocated $720,000 annually, amounting to $190,000 per contract per year plus up to $150,000 reserved for any additional lobbying services, said Joe Rasco, director of intergovernmental affairs.
Since the commission's committee expressed interest in increasing the number of contracts, and as Akerman was ranked just one point below Greenberg, the third ranked firm, Ms. Mallette said, it was decided that the county's procurement team would negotiate a contract with Akerman for the reserved funds. Ms. Mallette said she could not confirm whether it was Mayor Carlos Alvarez or County Manager George Burgess who made this decision.
The county negotiated a contract with Akerman for the additional $150,000, to be included in the amended award recommendation.
According to Mr. Rasco, the firms were selected based on performance in five categories: experience, qualifications and past performance; the experience and qualifications of individuals assigned to the contract; approach and work plan; understanding of major metropolitan county issues; and relationship with the new administration's House and Senate leadership.