News: Prospective Convention Center Developers Sign Affadavits

It is no secret that the billion dollar re-do of the Miami Beach Convention Center project has been tarnished with misdeeds. Especially with the arrest of Gus Lopez, the city’s former procurement director. Even though he was arrested on charges unrelated to the convention center, his alleged back door deals have tarnished what is to be Miami Beach’s biggest developmental project to date.

Lopez was forced to quit when it was found that he had improper emails that may have been the tip of a corrupt operation where bidders were giving insider information for a price.

In January of this year, to separate the city and the candidates that were to be considered for the convention project, the Miami Beach Commission instructed city staff to procure affidavits from all bidders that affirmed they had not engaged in any improper communications with Lopez or his team. The commission also asked the administration to hire a public relations firm to get word out to the community about the convention center redevelopment.

“I would like an affidavit from everyone that they had no contact,” said Weithorn.

Deputy City Attorney Raul Aguila said he saw no reason why the bidders would refuse, and that such an affidavit would come with certain legal assurances.

“If an affidavit is drafted and signed, you sign it under the penalty of perjury,” said Aguila.

Since then the commission has narrowed the developers down to two – South Beach ACE and Portman-CMC. Both companies were expected to turn in affidavits.

Those affidavits are finally in, with Robert Wennett and Paul Diamond of the South Beach ACE team, and Roger Zampell and Art Murphy of the Portman-CMC team signing off.

Both affidavits state that no members of either team had any inappropriate dealings with Gus Lopez or his team.

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