Key Biscayne mayor says lawsuit against Miami boat show organizer is about accountability

Key Biscayne mayor says lawsuit against Miami boat show organizer is about accountability

Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay says Miami and the National Marine Manufacturers Association are keeping the village in the dark about its plans for next year’s boat show.

“We have been met with total resistance,” Lindsay said. “Planning … without transparency and not being accountable does not work.”

Key Biscayne has filed lawsuits against Miami and most recently, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which organizes the Miami International Boat Show. Lindsay says Key Biscayne supports renovations, but maintains that many more events will be held at the Miami Marine Stadium than just the boat show, which would greatly affect nearby residents.

“This lawsuit is about accountability,” she said of the most recent complaint from the village. “It’s about gathering information and knowing what’s going on.”

On April 22, Key Biscayne filed a lawsuit against the NMMA to invalidate an agreement it says was made between the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the city of Miami. The lawsuit alleges that the city and the Chicago-based nonprofit created a licensing agreement to host the show at the Miami Marine Stadium for multiple years.

However, the lawsuit alleges the licensing agreement was made behind closed doors, violating Florida’s open government records law — or “Sunshine Law” — and therefore should not be continued. The Village said in its complaint that the nonprofit is acting as an agent of the city, and its agreement is therefore subject to Florida’s open records law.

An agenda item for a commission meeting on Jan. 8 filed with the complaint outlines some points of the license agreement, stating that the NMMA will pay $1.1 million annually and 50 percent of the income from the boat show, which has an estimated annual economic impact of $600 million.

John Shubin of ShunbinBass Professional Association, representing the Village of Key Biscayne, sent a public records act request for more information about that agreement to the NMMA on April 10 addressed to Thomas Dammrich, president of the NMMA. The letter asked for a list of items, including information on profit-sharing, all engineering plans and many other items related to the boat show at Miami Marine Stadium.

On April 17, Jonathan Howe, denied the request on behalf of the NMMA.

The NMMA issued this statement about the lawsuit on Friday:

“NMMA will be responding to the claims in the lawsuit, and the Miami International Boat Show remains committed to being a good neighbor to Key Biscayne. It is our job to preserve the $600 million economic impact the boat show brings to the Miami community each year – something we take very seriously. We are moving forward with planning the boat show, and are confident it will be held at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin in 2016 and beyond.”

It did not respond to requests for comment in time for this article.

Key Biscayne also filed an emergency injunction against the city after construction at Miami Marine Stadium kicked off Feb. 10. Key Biscayne says the stadium is zoned as park space, not commercial event space, and alleges that construction there is illegal until the lawsuits against the city regarding the land are settled.

The city of Miami declined requests for comment on the lawsuits against it in February, saying it does not comment on pending litigation.

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Story by: Emon Reiser – Apr 27, 2015, 5:45pm EDT
Photo Courtesy: Emon Reiser

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