Citizens for Sunshine has made a settlement offer to the city of Sarasota that would allow the city to move ahead with a State Street public garage project.
Citizens for Sunshine filed a complaint in March alleging a violation of the Sunshine Law in the city’s selection of a construction and design firm slated to build the new public parking garage on State Street.
The legal action alleged that the scoring and ranking of bidders on the proposed construction of the $7.3 million State Street Parking Garage was changed and occurred out of the Sunshine and without notice to the public, according to a press release sent by Citizens for Sunshine March 12. Using the Public Records Act, Citizens for Sunshine obtained scoresheets ranking the bidders that indicated bid scores were crossed out and altered.
City Attorney Bob Fournier said the issue arose when the scoresheet for A.D. Morgan was changed due to an inadvertent city-staff error when awarded points were not added during the previous meeting for A.D. Morgan being a minority business enterprise (MBE). City staff then added in the missing points, a change that moved up A.D. Morgan’s ranking in the selection process.
After the lawsuit was filed, the selection committee re-convened on March 15, 2013 at a meeting held in the sunshine in order to "cure" the previous violation and the calculations were then explained in an open public meeting, according to email update from Fournier to City Commissioners.
On April 23, “Citizens for Sunshine representatives made a settlement proposal to the City,” Fournier wrote in his update email.
Citizens for Sunshine representatives offered to dismiss the lawsuit if the city provides a training session on the Sunshine Law to the city’s purchasing division staff within two months and pay plaintiffs’ attorney’s fee and costs (of $10,692).
The settlement would allow the parking-garage project to move forward.
In addition to providing parking one block from mid-Main Street, the project could also add retail space or residential units.