City council opts for lobbyists’ help

Sequim Gazette

A Portland, Ore., firm soon will be working to bring funds for special projects to Sequim.

City councilors unanimously approved a contract with lobbyists Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, CFM, for a fixed $3,200-a-month rate for the remainder of 2011.

City Manager Steve Burkett said he thought Sequim needed help finding federal financial assistance with upcoming projects.

Those projects include:
• Annexation of the
Sequim Marine Sciences Laboratory, commonly referred to as Battelle, with water, sewer and transportation resources
• Completing other east Sequim projects, including the West Sequim Bay/Whitefeather Way corridor infrastructure
• Finishing the Sequim portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail
• Making downtown improvements
• Re-establishing a school resource officer
• Finishing the Simdars interchange

While researching the firm, Burkett said staff from the cities of Battle Ground and Longview, also CFM clients, reported receiving much more than their investments back in funding.

Federal CFM clients include the cities of Lacey and Vancouver, the Oregon Institute of Technology and other Oregon entities.

Burkett said he didn’t investigate other lobbyists because the firm came recommended from a former Sequim contract employee.

“It’s going to be a competitive process and in order to compete successfully, we need someone who knows (Washington,) D.C, closely,” Burkett said.

Councilor Ted Miller said he was naturally skeptical about lobbyists and wondered why the city couldn’t use local delegates.

Councilor Erik Erichsen said lobbyists are effective but need a catalyst, someone who has the ability to articulate what the city wants.

“It’d be a cheap investment if we come up with that individual,” Erichsen said.

“We need to find someone to be our ‘evangelist.’”

The firm will be paid from $150,000 budgeted for contingency by city staff. Other expenses include flying a few councilors and a staff member to Washington, D.C., to reinforce the city council’s goals.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Burkett said.



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