Local governments lobbying may be a ‘disgrace,’ but its better than sending certain elected officials

in Peter by

It’s no secret what House Speaker Richard Corcoran thinks of local governments paying firms to lobby for them before the Florida Legislature.

“It’s a disgrace that taxpayer dollars are used to hire lobbyists when we elect people to represent them,” Corcoran told the Tampa Bay Times.

Were it up to Corcoran alone — and on some days, it may feel as if it is — cities, counties, and other governmental bodies would be prohibited from hiring lobbyists. That, of course, would probably be ruled unconstitutional, so Corcoran and Co. have made it clear they won’t be putting out the welcome mat for those representing a local government. To that end, the House is requiring those who represent public entities or tax-supported entities to disclose their contracts.

Despite Corcoran’s thoughts on the issue, few, if any, cities or counties are changing their strategy for lobbying the Legislature. Steve Bousquet and Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times detail how several local governmental bodies are hiring or retaining their lobbying teams. Florida Politics A.G. Gankarski recently detailed how the City of Jacksonville, led by Republican Mayor Lenny Curryis relying on the same lobbying team it did as last year.

For local governments, hiring lobbyists may, in fact, be a disgrace, but, for those of us in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, it’s better than sending certain elected officials.

I can’t imagine St. Petersburg’s former mayor, the aloof Bill Foster, walking the halls of the capitol. He could hardly interact with the eight members of City Council.

Not that Foster’s successor, Rick Kriseman, would be much of an improvement. The Democrat wasn’t liked by most when he was a lawmaker; what makes anyone think he has become more popular with Republican legislators since leaving office?

The majority of St. Petersburg’s City Council — already working full-time for part-time pay — would not have the time to track key legislations or work to have important appropriations placed in the budget. Not that liberals on City Council, like Steve Kornell or Darden Rice, would be very effective in Tallahassee.

And think about some of those who have served on the Pinellas County Commission and what kind of disaster they would have been in Tallahassee. Norm Roche on Adams Street? My Lord!

Undoubtedly, every community in Florida has elected officials who would do more harm than good if they were left to their own devices in the capital.

This is one of the reasons why, as well-meaning as Speaker Corcoran may be with his efforts to clean out the Augean Stables, some of his targets are misguided.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.