Hey, don’t Collier County lobbyists use the cell phone and Internet, too? | James Pat Guerréro

To the average person there are inconsistencies on why so much spending on lobbyists in Collier County. Hypothetically, a waste?

Some of this article refers to education lobbying and some just to lobbying in general. Here are some points to ponder.

Who says that lobbyists are needed as experts to do lobbying for education? The answer is no one other than Keith Arnold, and other lobbyists, who then blame the legislature for lack of expertise. Lobbyists persuade government officials that they are “expertly” needed to acquire money from government. The question is why do government officials give in to the “expert” persuasion when a government official or a state legislator can and should do the job just the same. Government officials lean on lobbyists because on some cases they are plainly lazy to do the research, reason, and make a funding request.

Keith Arnold, a Florida education lobbyist, states on why government officials need lobbyists.

“Issues evolve over decades and decades. Legislators are not able to accumulate the years of knowledge that staff and lobbyists have up there,” Arnold said.

Yes, Arnold competes his service because others can’t catalog a lot of knowledge.

An average person can easily dispute that assertion. One simply studies the issues, which are not lengthy, reach some conclusions, and make recommendations. Why does Collier County need a $200,000 budget for lobbying? With a political philosophy already determined one can understand the basic issues, reach conclusions and make recommendations within one hour. At a normal attorney’s rate of $350 per hour, one would be glad to pay for one hour of work – $350. Government work isn’t complicated, folks! (Please keep in mind that government has tried to purposefully complicate regulation to control business and funding.)

Here’s another inconsistency. Collier County hires lobbyists for “representation,” which is really lobbying. This term is out-of-place in that it falls between hiring a lobbyist and hiring an attorney to help the government. It’s a term, though, that buys the government funding market because the market is too important to ignore, while government is doing other governance. What a convenient placebo to get out of work – at an extra cost to the taxpayers – because “representation” is so needed, but not of the attorney kind.

Here’s another woozy inconsistency. One must love to read how Debbie Wight opens her mouth and inserts her foot. Debbie Wight is the Collier County legislative affairs coördinator. In response to some work that Arnold did for Collier on passing a bill and gaining approval for acquiring excess toll revenues to run a fire/EMS, she said.

“I don’t remember us ever getting money from Tallahassee,” Wight said.

Laughing out loud, one thinks the woman means what she said. One also thinks that legislative affairs work means “to coordinate” it. By the way Wight has been instrumental in contracting to Arnold and associates about $80,000 of work annually. Not being sarcastic, one thinks she is comfortable with a lesser salary (not verified).

Here’s another woozy quote from Wight.

“The legislative session is fast and furious. Over 2,000 bills were filed in 2011 and less than 300 passed so you have to have representation up there,” she said.

Well, one only has to look at relevant bills no matter how many bills that legislators file. But “representation” is still mandatory “up there.” Forgive one, but is not a cell phone and Internet up there, too? Can not representation be accomplished by voice and text – to the techies – VoIP and SMS.

Based on Wight’s remark that federal lobbyists brought in $7.5 million in funding and grants before the federal government placed a moratorium on earmarks, a federal investigation could be begun on waste, fraud, and abuse that would originate in Collier County alone. The hypothesis would be that Collier lobbyists lobby for legislation and approval on funding and grants from which same approved legislation they lobby their clients’ goals. In other words, lobbyists “rent seek” their own lobbying service.

Collier County Commissioner Jim Coletta said,

“It all equates back to dollars and cents,” Collier Commissioner Jim Coletta said. “Lobbyists have made us a lot of money.”

The gist of this comment is that lobbyists save Collier County money – “a lot of money.” In our day of big government is this comment believable? The opposite is more believable in that lobbyists see a very lucrative market that gets more lucrative every single day. As the debt goes up, lobbyists make more money. How much is left for local government? One should not vote for Jim Coletta next time even though he is a  republican; his inconsistency on the republican idea of limited government is RINO.

The average person should pay close attention to Lee Commissioner Frank Mann’s comment.

Lee Commissioner Frank Mann thinks spending money on federal lobbyists is “frankly a waste of money.”

Frank Mann, Sr., said in paraphrase “whenever I need information I just call Diana McGee, Senator Bill Nelson’s assistant, and I get answers.” He was probably using a cell phone.

For Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Estero federal lobbying is very important. They paid $300,000 in the last six years. Is this taxpayer money spent and used to find taxpayer money for public educational institutions? Oh, didn’t the tuition just go up?

The university spokeswoman Susan Evans’ name has come up before. She moves up the ladder fast. She said that in 1993 she was the lobbyist for FGCU and commented that without someone in Tallahassee (her) there wouldn’t have been any money for FGCU because the federal funding and grants market is very competitive and other schools have lobbyists, too. Having done well, Evans has “rent seeker” her way up the ladder.

The proper use of lobbyists should be for when a local lawmaking body wants to ensure that the local taxpayers “don’t” pay taxes or pay minimal taxes. The principle of subsidiarity advocates this as the proper role for local lawmaking bodies. On the other hand elected and appointed officials, whether local or legislative, should refute the lobbyists’ idea that only lobbyists have the time and expertise. Don’t lobbyists lobby for their own jobs? That’s what they do. Hey, don’t lobbyists use the cell phone and Internet, too?

Read More: Special report: Collier, Lee and FGCU the local biggest spenders on lobbyists – POLL » Naples Daily News.


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