Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos
Gimenez has vetoed a controversial lobbying contract that
included a law firm that has generously supported his political
campaign for the county's top elected position. Citing the county
commission's failure to cut the cost of Miami-Dade's lobbying
services, Gimenez killed the deal yesterday. He told the Miami Herald
the commissioners had to go back to the drawing board because they
didn't save taxpayers any money like they promised.
"I vetoed it because I didn't think
it was the right thing to do, so they can go back and try again,"
Gimenez told the Herald.
Back in October, commission Chairman Joe Martinez -- who intends to run against Gimenez in 2012 -- asked the mayor to cancel the county's three year contract with Ron L. Book and Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell in order to invite the firms and other competitors to submit proposals to represent Miami-Dade in Tallahassee at a lower price.
The firms were each receiving $225,000 a year. When the new bid came out, four companies put in for the new contract: The Book and Rutledge firms, along with Ballard Partners and Akerman Senterfitt, an Orlando-based law firm with a major presence in Miami.
Through its partners and employees, Akerman has donated a little over $30,000 to Gimenez's campaigns. This past Dec. 19, county commissioners ignored an offer by Book and Rutledge to cut their fees by $50,000 and selected all four firms.
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But the commission didn't save any money because it allocated $170,000 each to the two lobbying firms that were already representing the county, plus $50,000 each to Ballard and Akerman.So now the county commission will have a chance to override Gimenez's first veto or start over.
However, some Herald readers have pointed out the county doesn't need lobbyists in Tallahassee given that it already has assistant county attorneys and staff that work on legislative issues. Denny Wood, president of the Florida Paraplegic Association, says county employees do a good job.
"I have seen them in action and they perform very well," he wrote. "And they do not pass out huge campaign checks to legislators before, during or after the session is over...Any more lobbying firms are just political payoffs to some favorite or entrenched lobbyists on the Miami-Dade gravy train."