City renews $36,000 lobbying contract
By KAITLIN STROHSCHEIN
Port Orchard Independent Reporter
June 30, 2011 · Updated 2:33 PM
Port Orchard’s city council decided to spend $36,000 to renew the city’s lobbying contract with Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs.
The firm will, again, represent the city at the state legislature, where it secured $700,000 in funding for the De Kalb Street Pier as well as several policy changes forthe city, last year.
“They were just the energizer bunny for Port Orchard out there working all the issues we asked them to work,” said Councilman Jerry Childs, “and I think this is money well spent.”
Six of the city councilmen voted for the contract renewal at a city council meeting on Tuesday, and several said that they saw it as a good investment of the city’s money.
The firm could, for example, help the city secure state funding for several transportation projects slated for next year, noted Councilman John Clauson.
“We do have Tremont (street widening project) that we need to get finished,” he said. “We do have a desire that, presuming the Bethel area annexes to the city, we have a major capital investment facing us there.
Keeping the legislature, if you will, up to date on our progress will do nothing but benefit us.”
And a good lobbying firm can keep the city networked with other relevant lobbying groups and legislators, said Carolyn Powers, who served in the state’s house of representatives for the 26th district from 1983 to 1984.
“I don’t think there’s any way that we individually, or even collectively, could do what the lobbying firm can do for us,” she said. “You hear a lot, in business, about networking, and that’s one of the big things that the lobbyist does for us.”
Councilman Fred Chang, alone, opposed renewing the contract, saying that the money could better spent elsewhere.
“I’ve actually been impressed with Briahna our representative at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, but the issue that I’m wrestling with is whether our city can still afford a lobbyist to the tune of $36,000 per year,” he said. “I’m glad to see, though, that we have, somehow, found $36,000 to pay for them, and I would suggest that we spend it slightly differently.”
Chang proposed that the city use the money to implement a three-pronged strategy to improve communication with the Port Orchard’s residents.
Some money could be used to fund mailing post cards to constituents to let them know if the city council planned to make an important decision, like a recent decision to raise water rates.
Another portion of the money could be used, Chang suggested, to broadcast the city council meetings over Wave cable, since not all Port Orchard residents have Internet access.
The remaining money could be used, he said, to improve the city’s Website.
But Chang was voted down, and the city will officially start it's contract with Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs July 1.