Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Local Lobbying - We'd Rather Not Talk About It

Realizing that local lobbying was an issue in New York, state officials passed a law two years ago to try to "monitor influence". So how are things going so far?

"Disclosure law intended to monitor influence on municipalities appears to have minimal impact."

To the money quotes:

"Local lobbying can consist of a call from a well-known local attorney, a free dinner or a round of golf paid for by professional lobbyists. But many times, what's at stake are contracts worth millions in local tax dollars."

"local lobbying is probably restricted to major construction projects"

So, there is unreported lobbying going on to influence local officials to win major construction projects. Surprised? Like, when Mayor Jennings holds a private fundraiser in the restaurant in the office building that was built on property given to it by Mayor Jennings and the city for free....would that be considered lobbying? What if that company was also currently trying to win the contract for the major construction project in Park South and will also contend for the big daddy construction project contract of them all, the Albany Convention Center? Should something like this be reported? Because it seems like there might be some influencing going on here. Should companies trying to win multi million dollar contracts for the city be able to host parties and donate money for the Mayor's re-election campaign? The Mayor certainly thinks so.

My problem with this system is not so much that certain construction companies are getting rich building things with our tax dollars. Someone has got to build the projects. My problem is that these companies then can very easily make sure incumbents are re-elected by funding their campaigns and that is bad for democracy. When Mayor Jennings says he "will raise a million dollars if he has to" where do you think that money is coming from? Not the people of Park South.