Digital Intrigue

Did Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver deceive commissioners in an effort to steer a lucrative software contract to a friend? The friend says no. Shiver isn't talking.

He was sticking with Oracle, he declared.

Shiver's insistence puzzles some observers. "I'm surprised," says Gwen Margolis, the commission chairwoman. "I don't know what he is thinking." Margolis concedes she is still trying to sort through all the problems associated with the review process. She also concedes she had no idea the review committee had recommended PeopleSoft over Oracle. "I've never seen their memo," she says. "It wasn't included in any of the material we were given."

She didn't realize the county attorney's office had been blindsided by the inclusion of the Oracle agreement as a contract modification rather than a bid waiver. Nor was she aware that PeopleSoft had offered to drop its price below Oracle's. "It's incredible," she adds. "Nobody has said anything to me about any of this."

Margolis also is concerned that the negotiations over price may have violated state Sunshine Laws as well as county rules that require such sessions be tape-recorded. "It all should have been in the Sunshine," she admonishes. She has asked the county attorney's office to issue a report on the matter. "I was in shock as all of this came out," she says, recalling her reaction at the July 24 commission meeting. "I couldn't believe what I was listening to."

Despite being troubled by Steve Shiver's conduct, Margolis declines to comment on whether the software controversy has shaken her confidence in the manager. "I'd rather not discuss it," she says.

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