Miami-Dade to re-sign three lobbying firms for state, federal transportation advocacy

Miami-Dade will soon decide whether to continue paying for the services of three lobbying firms that for years have advocated for the county’s transportation interests in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, the county’s transportation planning board — composed of several city officials and all 13 members of the County Commission —  will weigh amendments to its contracts with Ronald L. Book Inc., Becker & Poliakoff P.A. and Alcade & Fay Ltd. Inc.

Alcade & Fay lobby for the county at the federal level, while the two other firms do so before state officials.

All three amendments would extend the county’s contracts with the firms for another year with two one-year options to renew at the same annual pay rates the county and companies agreed to in late 2019.

Aileen Bouclé, executive director of the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), negotiated the terms of the new agreements, according to a TPO memo. The TPO Governing Board approved resolutions to waive the county’s competitive bidding process to allow her to enter talks with the companies without having to consider proposals from competing firms.

The amended contracts with lobbyist Ron Book’s firm and Becker & Poliakoff, respectively based in Aventura and Coral Gables, are tentatively set to commence Jan. 11 and end Jan. 10, 2024, unless the county taps the renewal options.

Book’s firm would receive $75,000 annually, while Becker & Poliakoff would get $50,000 a year. The amendments would extend their state advocacy services “without interruption through the 2023 Legislative Session,” the memo said.

Book and Jose Fuentes, a senior government relations consultant with Becker & Poliakoff, signed off on the contract amendments Dec. 1.

Alcade & Fay, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, is slated to continue receiving $50,000 per year for its lobbying services in Congress. Its amended contract terms would commence Jan. 14 and run through Jan. 13, 2024, around which time the TPO Governing Board would have to either renew the contract or seek alternative services.

Maurice Kurland, a partner and lobbyist at the firm, signed the amended contract Dec. 1.

Over the next several years, Miami-Dade is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal grants to fund transportation improvement and expansion projects. Much of the dollars sought are for the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan, an initiative the county adopted in 2016 to develop modern mass transit solutions for six key commuting corridors countywide.

So far, only the 20-mile South Corridor stretching from the county’s unincorporated Kendall neighborhood to the city of Homestead abutting Monroe County has received full federal and state funding matches of $100 million apiece.

That project, which involves upscaling an existing busway running adjacent to U.S. 1 for “gold standard” bus rapid transit, began in June 2021 and is now projected to reach completion in March 2024.

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