Councilwoman Jacky Bravo added an agenda item at Monday’s Miami Springs City Council Meeting to discuss the possibility of an RFP for new Legal Counsel.  While the action was short of a vote of no confidence, it clearly indicated Councilwoman Bravo’s lack of confidence in the status quo of continuing to use our current City Attorney.

Councilwoman Jacky Bravo

The City of Miami Springs was represented by former City Attorney Jan Seiden for approximately 30 years.  When he retired, Dan Espino was brought in as the City Attorney.  When Dan Espino left, the City Council continued with the status quo with Espino’s former firm Weiss Serota Helfman Cole Bierman with Haydee Sera as the acting City Attorney.  Weiss-Seroata is a law firm that represents multiple cities within its government practice, but it also promotes other practice areas including:  business transactions, labor and employment, litigation, and property.

Haydee Sera
Haydee Sera

Mayor Mitchell and Bob Best expressed their faith in working with the Weiss Serota law firm over the past few years.  But Mayor Mitchell was appreciative of Bravo’s intention to bring up Bravo’s concerns now instead of waiting till the last minute when the annual vote of confidence comes up in March.

To Councilwoman Bravo’s point, when Dan Espino left, the City Council did not request an RFP for new legal counsel and just continued to work with the Weiss Serota law firm. An RFP would allow Weiss Serota to compete with other firms and ultimately our Council would be able to select the best option for the City.

In a back and forth with Bob Best, Councilwoman Bravo indicated “I’m trying to avoid itemizing negatives.”  Bravo clearly didn’t want to get into the details of what she didn’t like, but she did bring up the UTD case.  She praised the creativity of the UTD attorneys “using our ordinance against us.  I would expect the same thing from our legal counsel.”

For those residents who are fans of the Gateway Overlay District, they would likely be in favor of continuing to use Weiss Serota.  For residents who are unhappy with the Gateway Overlay District which was architected by then City Attorney, Dan Espino, they may want to seek new legal representation.

To be clear, the City Council has the ability to hire and fire only three official positions.  Those positions are as follows:

    • The City Manager
    • The City Attorney
    • The City Clerk

Furthermore, while the annual vote of confidence is traditionally held in March, the Council can choose to hold a vote of “No Confidence” at any time.

It’s no secret has been very critical with the City Administration, including the City Manager and the City Attorney with the handling of the Gateway Overlay District and the Parking Debacle that it has created.  We have the biggest project in the history of downtown Miami Springs and the administration conveniently didn’t seek to set a parking fee before approving the project.  That was a loss of over $1,000,000.

After our original article was published there has been pushback form the City claiming that we shared misinformation. (Hogwash!)  If no fee should have been setup for the on-street parking, then why did City Attorney Haydee Sera state the following this past spring:

 “I don’t want to shut the door on the possibility of the fee being applied to the One Curtiss Parkway project. That is something that I’m continuing to look at. I don’t want that to be shut down.  It’s not a sure thing, but I do want to make sure that’s clear.”

Of course, no fee was ever applied.  In fact, we find it funny that the City Attorney advised the Council that she was still keeping the door open on a fee being applied.  But after our article was published, the City’s position changed to “no fee ever applied to the project.”  But the City wants you to believe I’m sharing misinformation.  I think the City needs to look in the mirror.

Bottom line:  We applaud Councilwoman Bravo’s effort to seek an RFP and compare some new options for legal representation.


  1. FINALLY, someone with the smarts and intestinal fortitude to unmask the inadequacies of the city attorney, but more importantly, to have an open debate about the conflict of interest that exists with a law firm that represents cities and developers alike.
    It is time to dump the Weiss Serota law firm and hire an independent attorney with whom the city can have a clearly defined and direct fiduciary relationship.


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