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Scott Neal, June 26, 2012 | Scott Neal
There are a couple of interesting articles today in the Star Tribune that are worth referencing in my blog. One is a story about Southdale Center. Southdale Center is going to be featured in an upcoming PBS special about the ten buildings that changed America. A film crew from WTTW, a public broadcasting station from Chicago, will be at the mall tomorrow (Wednesday, June 27) to shoot video and do interviews.
Good for Southdale, and good for Edina.
The other story in today’s paper that’s worth a quick read is entitled, “Lobbying is big business in Minnesota“. The article, written this year by Jennifer Brooks, is an annual affair for Star Tribune. The newspaper gets a copy each year of a report from the Office of the State Auditor that summarizes the amount spent on governmental lobbying by governmental entities from the previous year. Then, an enterprising reporter from the Star Tribune, gets a quote or two from someone who talks about the importance of government lobbying government, and then adds to that a quote from former legislator Phil Krinkie (or someone like Krinkie) who decries government lobbying government. And then, shazam, you’ve got a story for the newspaper.
It’s all pretty predictable.
The City of Edina is not one of the top ten spenders on governmental lobbying. We do not employ a private lobbyist in St. Paul or in Washington DC. We are members of a couple of organizations that do provide lobbyist services: League of Minnesota Cities, Metro Cities and the Municipal Legislative Commission. There might be other smaller organizations the City is a member of that also provide lobbying services, but these are the three biggest.
Among the three of them, we spent something close to $20,000 in 2011 on our municipal memberships with the organizations, which covers more (much more) than just lobbying services. I’m not quite sure how to segregate the lobbying expenses out of that $20,000 total, but if I had to estimate, I’d say it is less than half of it.
The annual article on government lobbying government always disappoints me because I think it’s sad that we have to pay anyone to make sure that our municipal voice is heard at the state capitol. We don’t talk all that much with the elected and appointed officials in state government who represent Edina. It’s true that party politics and partisanship get in the way sometimes, but really I think it’s more about them doing their own thing and us doing our own thing.
State government and local government are not partners. We ought to be. I think I’m going to work on that partnership in the year ahead.