Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayor Aims to Hire Firms to Lobby in Tallahassee; Committee Supporting Curry Blasted Bishop for Trying Same Thing in '12

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayor Aims to Hire Firms to Lobby in Tallahassee; Committee Supporting Curry Blasted Bishop for Trying Same Thing in '12

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

In the heat of the mayoral campaign, a political committee supporting Lenny Curry sent out a mailer that ripped his rival Bill Bishop for pushing to hire an outside lobbying firm when Bishop was City Council president.

"Wasting taxpayer money on a high-paid lobbyist," said the mailer paid for by Together for a Greater Jacksonville.

Curry went on to win the mayor's race, and as the Legislature gets ready to meet in regular session Jan. 12, Curry is going to do what Bishop tried to do in 2012 - hire outside lobbying firms savvy about working the halls of the state Capitol.

The city budget has $150,000 set aside for lobbying fees, and the mayor's office is negotiating with three firms to go to bat for the city.

"We haven't been making our case in Tallahassee," Curry said.

He said he's confident hiring the firms will advance the city's legislative priorities - a complicated list that includes help with the city's pension debt, septic tank removals and Jacksonville Journey crime-fighting programs.

"Look, I'm all about return on investment," he said. "I have an expectation that using those firms will return exponential dollars and resources to the city of Jacksonville."

Bishop made a similar argument in 2012 when he pushed legislation authorizing $160,000 to hire at least one outside lobbying firm.

The city hasn't used such firms since 2010. Bishop said it was putting Jacksonville "behind the power curve" because other cities send lobbying teams to Tallahassee.

City Council agreed in 2012 with Bishop's legislation, but it hit a dead-end because the lobbyists would have worked at the council's direction.

An opinion from the General Counsel's Office said only the mayor could hire lobbyists, so the city didn't bring a firm onboard.

Bishop said he still thinks hiring outside lobbyists is a good idea. He said with a laugh that it's ironic for Curry to pursue that approach in light of the campaign ad.

The ad by Together for a Greater Jacksonville criticized Bishop for pushing to hire an outside lobbyist when Mayor Alvin Brown already had a full-time staff member, Mario Rubio, assigned to do state lobbying at a salary of $101,500. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.