Ethics Panel To Investigate Effort To Move Sports Authority Out Of Miami Arena
By Yeleny Suarez
Miami’s rush to move the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority’s offices out of Miami Arena after arena owner Glenn Straub threatened to sue the city over another matter has triggered an investigation by the Miami Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado said.
Trust investigator Manuel Diaz said he couldn’t confirm that there is an open investigation. "If there is an investigation, it will later become public record, but I cannot confirm anything. That’s our policy."
The ethics commission is an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers. Its five members provide ethics opinions, investigate complaints related to ordinances under their jurisdiction and conduct ethics education and outreach programs.
The sports authority has no executive director or financial director and no approved budget, Mr. Regalado said. "If (an executive director) is not appointed within 60 days, it is a violation of state statutes," he said.
Mr. Regalado said a meeting to discuss the sports authority’s future was held Tuesday among its financial advisor, Richard Berkowitz, president of accounting firm Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant; Mayor Manny Diaz; Otto Boudet-Murais, economic development adviser to the mayor; and Assistant City Attorney Olga Ramirez-Seijas.
Alejandro Miyar, press secretary for Mr. Diaz, said the meeting lasted four hours. He said the sports authority’s board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday (2/16) at City Hall in the staff meeting room. All prior meetings had been at Miami Arena.
Mr. Diaz was not available for comment.
The sports authority was rushed to move out of the arena after Mr. Straub argued at a Jan. 27 city commission meeting that the city would get more for its money on a development across the street from the arena if it let him spearhead the project. He planned to pay $3 million more than what Michigan developer Crosswind was offering for a $200 million development expected to improve Overtown. When the commission ignored his proposal, he threatened to sue the city.
When he bought the arena, Mr. Straub agreed to let the authority stay there rent-free if it paid utility bills.