While the City’s head of legislative affairs, Shannon Hewett, has left the City for the greener lobbying pastures of Southern Strategies headed up by John Thrasher, the City has neither a shortage of lobbying firms working for it (including Thrasher’s firm), nor, evidently, the money to pay them.
According to the Florida Legislature’s website, the City paid out somewhere between $60,000 and $120,000 to 4 of the 5 lobbying firms it retains to lobby the state legislative and executive branches just for the period running from October 1 to December 31, 2008. (In case you’re wondering why there’s such a large spread in the amount of money that the City paid out, it’s due to the fact that state lobbyists are not required to report the specific amount they are paid, but instead a range.) And don’t forget that the City is paying for firms to lobby the feds, too.
In the meantime, Florida Trend is reporting that many folks are cutting their lobbying expenses:
Looking for ways to plug an $82-million budget hole, Broward County commissioners decided last year to cut library and park hours. They also sacked two of the seven lobbying firms they had employed — a move that will save $66,000.
Palm Beach County commissioners have also scaled back their legislative affair’s budget for 2009, cutting their federal lobbyist’s pay by 22% and applying a 12.5% across-the-board reduction to their state lobbying contracts.
While there are pros and cons to maintaining current lobbying efforts and expenses (as pointed out in the Florida Trend article), it seems that in these tight budget times, the City should at least do a thorough examination of these firms’ performance to determine whether or not they are getting the most bang for their buck from their lobbying efforts at both the state and federal levels, if they haven’t done so already.