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More than two months after news partner WLRN first reported on Miami City Manager Art Noriega and his wife’s business dealings with the city, Miami’s top executive issueda report of the city’s purchases that omits tens of thousands of dollars paid to his in-laws’ furniture company.

The city manager promised a “full reporting and accounting” of the business dealings in mid-January, referring to WLRN’s reporting as “inaccurate or incomplete.”

However, the report issued by Noriega on Monday was missing important information and data, providing an inaccurate accounting of the business dealings, city staff confirmed to WLRN.

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The report was sent to city commissioners and city mayor Francis Suarez. Noriega initially promised to present the report on Jan. 25.

In his report, Noriega details a new city policy to increase transparency, and gives a breakdown of how much money the City of Miami has spent on furniture in the past 13 years — including purchases from Pradere Manufacturing.

Michelle Pradere-Noriega, the city manager’s wife, is listed as the company’s director of operations on LinkedIn. Pradere Manufacturing is owned by her parents.

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READ MORE: Commissioner calls for Miami City Manager’s resignation over furniture contracts

The data provided in the city manager’s report shows that the city only paid Pradere Manufacturing $228,234 for furniture contracts from 2020 to 2023 — compared to a total of more than $3 million the city has spent on furniture from various companies in the same period.

After reviewing the data and comparing it with invoices received in a previous public records request, WLRN found that 22 purchase orders from Pradere Manufacturing between 2020 and 2023 were omitted from the manager’s report.

These additional purchase orders amount to $170,723.53 in purchases not accounted for in the city manager’s report.

Michelle Pradere Noriega Linkedin

When asked by WLRN about the discrepancy, the City of Miami Procurement Department said in an email that they only searched the city’s database using the search term for “furniture.” Because only this code was used, 15 purchase orders were not captured in their search and did not show up in the City Manager’s report.

The purchases that were not described as “furniture” included things like office supplies, storage shelves and office remodeling services. Others included items that seem to count as furniture, including chairs and podiums.

Additionally, the report did not account for four “Direct Payments” (DPs) made to Pradere Manufacturing in 2020 and 2022. These direct payments add up to slightly more than $10,000.

“Procurement is not in the hierarchy to approve DPs. Since these DPs do not have POs [Purchase Orders] associated with them, they aren’t accounted for in the data pulled … for the Report,” a Procurement Department staffer wrote to WLRN.

The report also did not include two purchase orders Procurement said were “zeroed out” and not paid because no work was actually done. Records retrieved by WLRN late last year show these purchase orders add up to about $20,000 the city was meant to pay Pradere Manufacturing. WLRN has asked for clarification as to whether these payments were actually made.

Other data provided in the report shows that the city manager’s office never contracted with Pradere Manufacturing for office furniture until Noriega became city manager in 2020.

In response to WLRN’s questions, the city said it will release a new report.

“An updated presentation/report will be compiled due to anomalies in the tracking system used to retrieve purchase information, as outlined in the recently released report,” city spokesperson Kenia Fallat said in an email.

Noriega is facing a call to resign from a sitting Miami City Commissioner and a former Miami City Manager because of the furniture contract controversy.

As part of the release of Noriega’s report, he provided a written statement in which he asserts that he has always acted in an ethical manner and has not been involved in any purchases involving his wife’s company.

“Throughout my tenure as a public servant, I have never derived personal benefit beyond my standard salary and benefits. I have maintained strict adherence to my responsibilities, I have refrained from advocating for any particular vendor, consultant, or professional engaged by the City,” Noriega wrote.

Shortly after becoming city manager in 2020, Noriega issued a memo to city commissioners and the mayor disclosing that he had a “conflict of interest” with his wife’s family company, and said he would recuse himself from any contracts with the company. That memo was not made public at the time.

In response to the controversy connected to the ongoing Pradere Contracts, Noriega on Monday announced a new administrative policy on conflicts of interest.

The new policy, enacted March 11, requires that all city employees and officials who have a conflict of interest with a vendor seeking to do business or currently doing business with the city must disclose that conflict in public, at a public City Commission meeting.

Those employees must also submit a request to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust for a formal opinion on the potential conflict. Previously, government employees would seek opinions from the Commission on Ethics (COE) at their own discretion, but were not required to do so.

Caroline Klancke, executive director of the nonprofit Florida Ethics Institute, said this policy is a step in the right direction for public accountability in the City of Miami.

“These types of transparency policies are incredibly beneficial to the city as a whole to vet prospective contracts to make sure they are not fraught with conflicts,” Klancke said. “And one must imagine for a city of this size, it’s long overdue.”

WLRN previously reported in early January that Pradere Manufacturing was awarded more than $440,000 in city contracts for new office furniture and furniture assembly since 2020. Those contracts included multiple orders to refurnish Noriega’s own city office, and offices belonging to his subordinates.

When asked directly by WLRN earlier this year, Noriega said he made a “decision of choice” not to seek a county or state commission on ethics opinion on any potential ethical issues relating to his wife’s business when he became city manager in 2020.

Without speaking on the specifics of Noriega’s situation, COE Executive Director Jose Arrojo told WLRN the Miami-Dade County ethics code specifically prohibits family members of government officials from contracting with their relatives’ government body.

Other public ethics experts said the business ties between the City of Miami and Pradere Manufacturing raised alarms about potential ethical breaches. Noriega contends that he put up strict firewalls to prevent any conflicts, and had nothing to do with furniture purchases.

The city manager’s presentation goes on to detail that Pradere Manufacturing is the city’s second-largest furniture vendor since 2010. According to the numbers from Noriega’s office, Pradere Manufacturing accounted for 9.3% of the city’s total furniture purchases from 2010 to 2019, the year before Noriega became manager. From 2020 to 2023, that figure went down to 7.4%, he claims.

The city’s top furniture vendors for the periods before and after Noriega became city manager were Krueger International and Compass Office Solutions, respectively.

WLRN has requested a one-on-one interview with Noriega to discuss the report.

Daniel Rivero

Daniel Rivero is part of WLRN's new investigative reporting team.  His work appears under a partnership between WLRN and the Key Biscayne Independent.

Joshua Ceballos

Joshua Ceballos is WLRN's Local Government Accountability Reporter and a member of the investigative team. His work appears under a partnership between WLRN and the Key Biscayne Independent.

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