Miami-Dade could vote to ax 'cone of silence' this week, loosen rules on lobbying
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade County's "cone of silence" — a lobbyist control measure - could soon be kaput depending on a commission vote today (11/20).
Chairman Bruno Barreiro proposes killing the cone, a measure put in place in the late '90s to reduce outside influence on procurement decisions.
As contractors vie to provide goods or services, the imaginary cone forbids bid-related communication between county officials and vendors, consultants and lobbyists.
Some in-house communication within the county regarding the bids is also a no-no, and members of bidder selection committees are off-limits.
"I think it leaves a lot of information from being discussed — important, pertinent information as to the process going on," Mr. Barreiro said. "I think it doesn't benefit the administration."
Sometimes, bids get rejected because of lack of information that could come to light if communication lines were open, he said.
Mr. Barreiro is not proposing a new measure to replace the cone.
Rather, "I think first and foremost, we've got to rely on the integrity of the people."
At a meeting last month, the commission voted to tweak the cone measure to allow some nuts-and-bolts discussion not meant to influence bidder selection.
There, some commissioners got behind Mr. Barreiro's suggestion to nix the cone: six of 13 expressed interest during an informal poll.
Joe Martinez, quoting Aviation Director José Abreu, called it "the cone of senseless."
Dennis Moss said he feared killing the cone would be akin to inviting lobbyists and others to inundate commissioners.
Under the cone, "I've sure enjoyed not having 100 folk lined up at my doorstep," he said.
Rebeca Sosa agreed.
"I don't want lines knocking at my door, because we were able to get rid of that, and I'm not going to support something that brings that back."