Miami-Dade Commissioner colludes with rail executive to do away with beach connector RFP

A potential violation of the Miami-Dade Cone of Silence has taken place despite what the COE memo would want us to believe.

As we reported two weeks ago, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner may have violated the County’s Cone of Silence Ordinance during a discussion on the Beach Corridor Trunk Line RFP held on at the County Commission meeting June 2.

In recent days Florida Politics has become aware of that the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics (COE) has opened an investigation into this matter and in less than a week, found that no violation had taken place by either commissioner Joe Martinez or Jitendra Tomar, the representative for the rail company CAF.

This is surprising not only due to the speed with which the COE acted, but with the rush, they may have missed critical evidence that would show possible wrongdoing.

As our readers will remember, the COE took two years to complete an investigation on the Miami-Dade trade mission to Japan and China, finding that no violations had taken place.

They were widely criticized for their extreme delay in the investigation and the timing of the release of the report, which led many to believe that the timing was politically motivated.

It seems that in a rush to close out the investigation on Martinez and Tomar, the COE may have missed a critical piece of evidence confirming both Martinez and Tomar were colluding to throw out the RFP and start a new process that could benefit CAF.

Florida Politics has obtained a copy of an email sent to Martinez by Tomar on June 1 at 6:41 p.m. (the day before the Commission meeting) in which Tomar, who is not registered to lobby in Miami-Dade County, lobbies Martinez to stop the RFP process.

Tomar writes, “the county should reconsider its approach about the process, reissue the RFP” and then proceeds to give a lengthy explanation as to why his company’s products would be better for the county, and including video links to other projects CAF has completed.

While this glaring omission by the COE is troubling, what is more disturbing is that Tomar and Martinez may have lied in their interviews with the COE investigators.

In his email to Martinez, Tomar states, referring to county staff and the RFP: “There was a clear fixation and preconceived notion for Monorail Technology,” an accusation that Martinez repeated at the County Commission meeting on June 2.

In the COE memo, however, he says that his impression was “based largely on local media coverage” and that “he did not mean to suggest or imply that anyone on the County’s professional staff sought to discourage proposals for anything other than monorail.”

However, these two statements reflected in the COE memo seem to contradict what he wrote to Martinez on June 1.

Florida Politics is not aware if the COE has seen the email from June 1. Still, this email raises serious concerns about the validity of the conclusion of the COE investigation, especially as it pertains to 2-11.1 (t) 1. (a)(v) of the county code which clearly prohibits any communication regarding a particular RFP between a potential vendor, service provider, bidder, lobbyist or consultant, and a County Commissioner.

Based on this email, Tomar seems to have met the criteria for a potential vendor, service provider, bidder, lobbyist or consultant, for the Beach Connector RFP, especially as he was encouraging Martinez to throw out of the RFP, and clearly advocating for his company’s technology to be used on that corridor.

We will continue to investigate this matter since a potential violation of the Miami-Dade Cone of Silence has taken place despite what the COE memo would want us to believe.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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