Commission Blocks Bid To Give Contract Oks To Manager
Written by Candice Ventra on July 27, 2000
By Candice Ventra
Decisions related to awarding county contracts will remain in the hands of the county commission, at least for now, after Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday deferred action on handing that power over to the county manager.
Katy Sorenson, who sponsored the item, said leaving procurement decisions in the hands of the manager would make government more efficient.
Her fellow commissioners weren’t convinced.
"I’m sure Commissioner Sorenson had the best intentions," said Natacha Seijas Millan. "I cannot agree with it. This will isolate the decision from those who have to answer to the people."
The measure would have given the manager the authority to advertise contracts for bid, apply minority contract measures to projects and decide bid protests as well as accept and reject bids.
Commissioners and lobbyists alike claimed the ordinance would take power from the people and would not help to promote diversity in county contracting.
"I don’t see this as an efficiency issue," Commissioner Dorrin Rolle said. "I see it as an issue of exclusion."
Robert Holland, a Miami attorney, said he thought the ordinance was an attempt to minimize minority commission involvement. Courtney Cunningham, a Coral Gables lobbyist, said other county commissions in urban areas make procurement decisions and Miami-Dade shouldn’t be any different. He cited Broward and Hillsboro counties as examples.
"It’s anti-democratic because it takes power from elected representatives," Mr. Cunningham said, "and gives it to the unelected."
Ms. Sorenson said her ordinance was not created to take power from the commission. She said the board would retain final say-so on decisions through ratification and by having the authority to fire the manager.
"It just takes too much time to award a contract and get the work done," Ms. Sorenson said. "This is an expediting procedure."
Commissioner Dennis Moss said the board was not responsible most of the time for delays in procurement decisions. He said the board approves more than 99% of the manager’s recommendations.
Most delays, he said, are probably caused by county staff.
"This is not an item I can support," Mr. Moss said. "We need to look at the other end of the procurement process."
Commission Chair Gwen Margolis said she was in favor of the ordinance simply because the commission approves almost all of the manager’s recommendations.
"Very rarely do we change any decision coming to us," Ms. Margolis said. "Frankly, I don’t want to take responsibility for it anymore. Let one person take responsibility."
No date was set to reconsider the measure but Ms. Sorenson said she would try to make it more "palatable."