WarrenJune 22, 2012
Council wants more oversight for lobbyist
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
WARREN – The Warren City Council has extended its contract with a Lansing lobbyist, but now wants to know more about what the contractor is working on and for whom in the city he is working.
The council voted 6-1 on June 12 to extend its relationship with former state Sen. Arthur Miller Jr.’s Leadership Consultants Inc. by one year at a cost of $74,000.
However, at the request of Council Secretary Scott Stevens, the council added a set of conditions to the contract that would require the firm to supply the City Council with weekly updates about tasks it is working on and to notify the council before beginning work requested by any other city department.
Stevens sought and received clarity that Miller’s company was in fact hired by the City Council.
The $74,000 contract is paid through the council’s budget for contractual services.
“The funding for this service comes out of the council budget, and as such, as the employer, I think we should be the sole source for tasking,” Stevens said. “If there is another service, or another part of the city that needs to utilize this service, they need to go through the City Council to do so.”
Council President Cecil St. Pierre Jr. summed up the discussion succinctly to echo Stevens’ concerns before the vote.
“We are the policy makers, and we should know what policy is being made and be part of it, and have input into it,” St. Pierre said. “If there’s any request to lobby someone, you’re going to be creating a policy, and we should know about that.”
Stevens said later that given the increasingly tight financial times, council agreeing on a one-year extension of the contract was in the city’s best interest. While he said he sees value in the service provided by Miller and his firm, he said the deal needs to be considered on a year-by-year basis.
Council member Kelly Colegio cast the lone vote against renewing the contract at this time.
She also cast the only vote against approving Warren’s one-year membership in the Michigan Municipal League.
Colegio said later she feels Miller’s performance as a lobbyist has benefited the city,
but that she would have been more inclined to vote in favor of the proposal after the city’s public safety millage proposal heads to the residents in August.
“I just don’t think it’s time to be spending money unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Colegio said. “The city potentially could be in some trouble. We just need to be very fiscally responsible going into this millage. The residents know that. Council needs to set an example.”
Miller spent 26 years in the Michigan Senate and later ran for mayor against former Mayor Mark Steenbergh in 1995. He was tapped by the Steenbergh administration 10 years later to represent the city’s interests as a lobbyist in Lansing.
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