Miami Beach commissioners on Wednesday voted to award a controversial tennis facility management contract.
The City Commission voted 4-2 to negotiate a contract with Miami Beach Tennis Management.
Vice Mayor Micky Steinberg and Commissioner Jonah Wolfson cast the dissenting votes. Commissioner Deede Weithorn did not vote because she is related to one of the contract bidders.
The city asked companies to bid on the contract more than a year ago. The current operator, Green Square, ended up ranking last among the bidders. Miami Beach Tennis Management ranked first.
Commissioners in September 2013 decided to throw out all the bids and stick with Green Square on a month-to-month basis after residents overwhelmingly showed up to support the operator.
In February, commissioners took up the issue again. This time, a largely new commission was in place. The new commission voted to instead give the contract to top-ranked bidder Miami Beach Tennis Management. A lobbyist who works for Miami Beach Tennis Management was a political consultant for three newly elected officials’ election campaigns.
However, the commission couldn’t move forward with the award to Miami Beach Tennis Management because it would be considered a waiver of the city’s competitive bidding process, which is required in most cases. So the commission put off a final decision until the city manager, Jimmy Morales, could issue a recommendation whether to waive the bid process. One of the city’s attorneys had suggested the recommendation was needed under city rules.
In March, Morales wrote a recommendation not to waive competitive bidding and stood by an original recommendation to negotiate a contract with the top-ranked bidder, Miami Beach Tennis Management.
With that in mind, commissioners in March voted unanimously to rescind the September 2013 commission decision to reject all bids and to reinstate the bid process in which Miami Beach Tennis Management was ranked first.
Green Square has sued the city over the bid process. The suit is pending in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.