LAST FRIDAY'S Minneapolis City Council vote on lobbyist contract renewals has a number of critics crying foul. According to Peter Wagenius of Citizens for Restoration of Trust in Government, the date for the vote, which typically takes place in late December or early January, was pushed forward by the Council's lame ducks to keep the contracts from being killed. At issue were lobbying contracts with North State Advisors and McGrann, Shea, both firms that represent the city while also holding contracts with its sometime opponents such as the Metropolitan Airports Commission, National Solid Waste Management (the trade group for waste haulers and recyclers), and the Minneapolis Building Owners Association (a group of landlords who are regulated by the city).
Had the vote taken place in January, Wagenius contends, the contracts wouldn't have been renewed. "Four incumbents and four incoming [Council] members signed a pledge stating that the city should set a policy of not hiring lobbyists or lobbying firms whose clients have conflicting interests with the city," he says. Signatories included Brian Herron, Dore Mead, Jim Niland, Paul Ostrow, and Lisa Goodman.