Controversial New Fund May Further Normalization Efforts with Cuba

Cuba Image for BlogPrivate judgments worth millions of dollars against the Cuban government have been a hindrance to normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations. Meanwhile, many of the victims who won those judgments have long given up on ever recovering a dime.

But there is new hope for those victims of state-sponsored terrorism, according to Bilzin Sumberg attorneys José M. Ferrer and Yasmin Fernandez-Acuña. The two members of Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation Group co-wrote a piece in the Fall 2016 edition of the International Law Quarterly detailing how these victims may yet see compensation.

Until recently, the only hope of satisfying any of these private judgments was for the U.S. to seize Cuban assets that touched U.S. soil. One such example was the confiscation of a Cuban airplane that was hijacked and flown to Key West in 2003. Despite Cuba’s protestations, the plane was sold at auction to satisfy a private litigant’s claims. So as long as private judgments went unpaid, no Cuban boats could dock in the U.S. and no Cuban goods could enter the U.S. without the fear of being seized. Continue Reading

Public-Private Partnerships Can Power the Green Economy

Green-EconomyAt the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton expressed a desire for the United States to become the “clean energy superpower of the 21st century.” Donald Trump responded that he, too, believes in all forms of energy, but that the U.S. government is limited in what it can finance due to its existing debt.

Although the federal government has for the most part never had to balance its checkbook, so to speak, state and local governments throughout the country are often required to have balanced budgets. One method municipalities have successfully employed (and with increasing frequency in recent years) in order to provide for needed infrastructure improvements without traditional public-debt financing is public-private partnerships. P3s, as they are called, leverage private financing and expertise to provide public facilities and services. We recently wrote about the possibility of implementing P3s for electric-vehicle infrastructure, and P3s could similarly be implemented to provide any component of the coming “green economy.”  Continue Reading

Middle East a Bigger Player in South Florida Real Estate

MiamiIt’s no secret that Miami has become one of the world’s most attractive markets for international investors. Latin Americans in particular have had a heavy influence in local real estate as one of the main demographic groups purchasing properties throughout South Florida. However, recent data from CBRE indicates that one region of the world is poised to take a much larger role in South Florida’s real estate market: the Middle East.

According to CBRE’s report, Miami was the 10th-most popular investment market for Middle Eastern real estate investment between January 2015 and June 2016, and the fifth-most popular in the United States. Investments in Miami real estate from the Middle East exceeded $500 million for that time period.  Continue Reading

Are you Catastrophizing? Discover the 5 Mistakes Keeping You Stuck in Your Career

LeanInLean In Miami presents a look at what may be holding you back on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Bilzin Sumberg.

Ever felt like you are stuck in your career and there doesn’t seem to be a path to move forward? Can’t figure out what exactly is holding you back? Do you look around and wonder “Is this all there is?”

Perhaps you are Catastrophizing.

On Tuesday, September 20, Lean In Miami presents a discussion on 5 Mistakes that Keep Women Stuck in their Career, led by Shannon Egan, a Miami-based Certified Professional Coach and CEO of Ishiki Insights. The event begins at 6 p.m. at Bilzin Sumberg and is open to the public. (To RSVP email by September 19). Continue Reading

Water P3s Now on Tap in South Florida

Tap WaterFlorida was an early pioneer in the United States of the public-private partnership (“P3”) model as a means of funding infrastructure improvements. In South Florida alone, we have the Florida Atlantic University dormitory, the $1.8 billion expansion of I-595, the $663 million Port of Miami tunnel and more recently, the Miami Beach Light Rail, to name a few. The use of P3s to fund transportation and social infrastructure projects in the Sunshine State cannot be gainsaid.

Conspicuously absent, however, from the list of readily recognized P3 projects in Florida is water and wastewater infrastructure. That omission should be remedied shortly though. Private investment in municipal water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States is poised for record growth and Florida is no exception to the projection. Continue Reading

Discretion in Procurement: The GAO Finds for the Government

The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a decision that could be used by government agencies to support “all encompassing” RFPs, or RFPs that require one bidder to provide several products and services even if, in so doing, bidders that can provide one aspect of the RFP – but not all aspects of the RFP – are restricted from competing.

In Matter of Palantir USG, Inc., Palantir, a provider of sophisticated commercial technology, argued that an Army procurement “unduly restricted competition” when it only allowed bidders that met all requirements of an extremely specific and detailed RFP to compete. The RFP was for a new computer system specially equipped for the Army. Palantir partially met the RFP’s requirements, but argued that the Army should have used a phased approach for its procurement. The phased approach would first open competition for purchase of the software platform to commercial providers like Palantir, and then a separate procurement would open competition for the service component of the RFP. Without a phased approach like this, Palantir and other commercial technology distributors would not be qualified to compete. Continue Reading

Electric-Vehicle Infrastructure: Fertile Ground for P3’s

Electric-Car_shutterstock_183893855In 2006, the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” hit the theaters. Ten years later, there remains substantial disagreement on the answer to that question, but one truth has emerged: the electric car lives again. As Electric-Vehicles (EV) range steadily increases while both charging times and prices continue to fall, it appears inevitable that an EV will someday be in every driveway. Yet one critical obstacle to widespread EV adoption remains. All of those EVs will need to be charged–not only at home, but at work, and on the go. And that requires brand-new infrastructure on a massive scale.

Public-private partnerships are proven model for delivering new infrastructure in a reduced timeframe and, in many cases, at a reduced cost. Because the public sector will inevitably play a significant role in EV use and EV infrastructure, there are many opportunities–now and on the horizon–for P3s. State and local governments will no doubt be procuring fleets of EV vehicles in the near future, and concessions for rapid charging stations (along with restaurants and other services to keep drivers occupied while their vehicles charge) will be needed along highways throughout the country. Although governments are beginning to plan for these procurements and facilities, Florida’s P3 statute permits interested private-sector partners to jump start the process by submitting an unsolicited P3 proposal.  Continue Reading

GAO Bid Protest Reform

Debates in Washington over expenditures associated with military-related bid protests are fueling new legislation that could curtail protest efforts. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a federal “congressional watchdog” agency that handles bid protests filed by entities challenging Department of Defense contract awards, as well as conducts other investigations into how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. In an effort to conserve finances and to minimize frivolous protests, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have begun inquiring into new legislation to curb expensive bid protests at the GAO.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) intends to employ an independent body to review the GAO bid protest process and to survey the duration of bid protests, specifically with regards to protests filed by incumbent contractors. Why the focus on incumbent contractors? The GAO employs an “automatic stay” upon filing a bid protest. The automatic stay forecloses the agency from finalizing a contract with the winning bidder until after the protest concludes. Thus, the automatic stay forces an agency to enter into interim contracts with the incumbent entity while the protest is ongoing. Some ponder whether, because of the automatic stay’s power, incumbent entities file bid protests to preserve a few more months of revenue, regardless of the merits of the protest. Continue Reading

How South Florida Real Estate Developers Are Reducing Litigation Risk

high rise buildingsLeading up to the Great Recession of 2008, properties throughout South Florida were being bought only to be subsequently resold at a profit.  This “flipping” of properties culminated in an unsustainably-inflated real estate market that eventually collapsed. Flipping was facilitated, in part, by low deposit requirements. Buyers with little investment capital could buy expensive properties with only 3-5% of the total purchase price, and later resell them at a profit.

When the real estate bubble burst, developers found themselves with incomplete construction projects, and defending lawsuits against both purchasers demanding their properties and creditors demanding their payments.

Changes were needed and changes were made. Among these changes, South Florida developers altered their financing models and implemented contracting changes in order to reduce their litigation risk. Continue Reading

Bisnow Power Series: Women of Influence

BISNOW POWER SERIES: WOMEN OF INFLUENCEBilzin Sumberg Real Estate Practice Group Leader, Suzanne M. Amaducci-Adams, will act as moderator of Bisnow’s Power Series event, Women of Influence, where panelists will discuss what is driving South Florida’s top female executives.

According to Bisnow, the event “will be bringing together the top female executives from all walks of the real estate community in South Florida to discuss new trends, current projects, and learn what is takes to get to the top of a male dominated industry.” Attendees will “find out what makes these executives tick and how they are leaving their impact on the real estate industry in South Florida.”

Other speakers include Avra Jain, CEO, The Vagabond Group; John Elizabeth Alemán, Commissioner, Miami Beach; Lissette Calderon, President, The Related Group; Meg Daly, Founder & President, Friends of the Underline; Tere Blanca, CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate; Beth Butler, President, Compass Florida; Cristina Sullivan, COO, Gables Residential; and Rachel Cardello, Principal, Stantec.

The event will take place at the Miami Beach Woman’s Club on Thursday, July 28th, beginning with breakfast and networking at 7:30 a.m.

Click here to RSVP.