LATHROP – It’s simple logic.
Here you have more than two dozen people flying back to Washington, D.C., to meet maybe a handful of elected representatives of those constituents making the long trek back to the nation’s capital.
So the ratio is skewed from the get-go. And when you factor in that each and every one of those people is coming back with their hand out asking for something – the SJCOG “One Voice” trip is officially a “lobbying exercise” for local governments – it only ratchets up the pressure.
So Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore found a surefire way to make his community win. He started networking with everybody – not just those that control the federal purse strings.
Earlier this month the Lathrop City Council voted unanimously to send Salvatore back to D.C. for the second straight year to represent the community. The action follows a decision during budget cuts last year to eliminate funding for council members that previously lobbied on behalf of the city in addition to the city manager.
The trips are definitely fruitful. According to Salvatore, the city has received roughly $1 million in federal transportation funding for the overhaul of the intersections of Lathrop Road and Louise Avenue at I-5. They’re bringing those back again as the designated projects this year. The city has also gotten upwards of $500,000 for individual projects like well replacements and street overhauls.
How much is directly tied to the trip, he said, is hard to spell out. He believes the real benefit comes from the relationships that he gets to build with neighboring communities and other officials that he’s more likely to work with than those tackling federal projects.
“I think that the thing that was most advantageous was the amount of time I was able to spend with County Supervisors and their staff members and representatives from the Council of Governments,” Salvatore said. “I get to build those relationships because those are the people who help us where we need to go, and what was most surprising to me was a lot of those policy makers didn’t know what it was that we were doing here.
“I spent a lot of time talking about what we’re doing and what we’re hoping to accomplish and how big our projects are. You have those people captive for a few days, so you have the chance.”
Lathrop will spend just over $3,200 to send Salvatore on the trip – money that was already included in the annual budget.