The Jacksonville Times-Union‘s Matt Dixon reports this morning that veteran lobbyist Pete Dunbar is intricately involved with the Department of Transportation’s rewrite of the law overseeing the outdoor advertising industry.
Dunbar, of course, represents the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association.
After consulting with Dunbar on several issues, Dixon reports, the transportation department made a change to legislation that is opposed by both environmental groups and the recommendation of the department’s own third-party consultant.
Label me a cynic for not being surprised that Dunbar is ‘watching the watchmen’ on this issue. As Dunbar himself said in an email to Dixon, his involvement is the same as any other interested party who wants to have input in public policy.
“I must admit … that I am a bit surprised that you would think that unusually or inappropriate for individuals or organizations to participate in the democratic process,” wrote Dunbar.
What I did find surprising in Dixon’s story is a quote from Senator Jack Latvala, the sponsor of the bill regulating the outdoor advertising industry.
“If the [outdoor advertisers] bring me something, I assume it’s good public policy,” said Latvala.
Really, Senator, if the outdoor advertisers bring you something, you just assume it’s good public policy?
Nothing against my friends at ClearChannel, etc., but their primary motivation is the bottom-line, not good public policy. Those two goals are not mutually exclusive, mind you, but a public official should not assume that a change from an industry to a law overseeing the industry is good public policy.
Pete Dunbar is a good man and he is a good friend to Senator Latvala. There is a trust between them not mentioned in Dixon’s story.
But Latvala’s statement is, at best, a poor choice of words. At worst, it is a perfect example of Kinsleyesque gaffe when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.