By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mayor: Just say no to $89K a year lobbyist
Placeholder Image
Mayor Willie Weatherford wants to pull the plug on the city’s contract with a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm.

The mayor Tuesday contends it is completely futile to lobby for money given the current political climate in the nation’s capital.

Weatherford said he’d rather spend the $89,000 “on potholes than a consultant.”

Councilman John Harris questioned why the cost for Van Scoyoc Associates was so high. He asked to see what the San Joaquin County Council of Governments pays for its federal lobbyist on an annual basis. The council, since staff couldn’t answer Harris’ question off the cuff, delayed voting on the contract until the May 18 meeting.

The lobbying firm provided what was described by staff as “valuable assistance” in helping the city prepare applications for federal funding for public infrastructure and gang prevention activities. Those applications are now under consideration in Washington for money that has already been budgeted by Congress but not allocated to a specific jurisdiction.

They also helped arrange “face-to-face” meetings with key people in various allocation processes to make pitches critical to advancing projects.

Staff is proposing the money for the consultant be paid from restricted funds covering water, wastewater, storm drainage, transportation, and economic development and not the general fund since most of the funding being sought is for projects in those areas.

The lobbying firm helped open the doors in D.C. for the city to go after two projects last year that they hope will meet the federal requirement of “shovel ready projects” for stimulus money – a $10 million water main project for South Manteca and freeway interchange work at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass that is far along in the design stage. That interchange has a $15 million price tag.

Manteca staff has already secured more than $6.7 million in federal stimulus money working on their own.

The money flowing to Manteca as part of President Obama’s American Recovery Act includes:

• $586,200 from the Department of Energy to replace the city’s existing street lights with high-efficiency induction lamps. Once they are in place, the new lights will save the general fund $150,000 in annual PG&E costs.

• $900,000 to go toward the $2.9 million project to build the four-lane gap missing on Atherton Drive between South Main Street and a point west of Wellington Avenue.

• $957,000 to pay for the rehabilitation of portions of nine streets - the work has already been done on portions of Union Road, Alameda Street, North Street, Mission Ridge Drive, Wawona Street, Winters Drive, Hoyt Lane, Northgate Drive and Button Avenue.

• $1.4 million to hire four additional police officers for three years.

• $1.3 million in transit funds including $380,000 to go toward environmental studies for the proposed transit station at Moffat at Main, $100,000 for an additional fixed route bus, $130,00 for the lease of the new Manteca Transit facility, and $40,000 for marketing, branding and signage.

• $1.1 million for landscaping on Highway 99 at the Yosemite Avenue and the Highway 120 Bypass interchanges.