Last fiscal year, the Dallas City Council budgeted $125,000 to hire a lobbyist to send to Washington. The council voted informally to hire Nancy Goff Cheney, but before authorizing the contract, it voted to abandon the whole concept of a Washington lobbyist. This year, the council has budgeted $30,000 for the same purpose.
Below, council members comment on whether or not the city needs a lobbyist.
Jack Evans, mayor, Place II, at large: “I’m strongly in favor of a Washington lobbyist. I would strongly suggest to my successor and the new council to push for this. It’s not fair to the city to have the mayor continually going to Washington; it’s better to have a lobbyist who knows his way around the Hill. The taxpayers would receive a great dividend from it.”
Max Goldblatt, Place 7, Southeast Dallas: “I’ve always been opposed to a Washington lobbyist. I would prefer a legislative representative like we have in Austin. Takea person and give him a staff that would work both in Washington and Austin. They would work directly under the city manager and the council.”
Sid Stahl, Place 9, at large: ” ’Lobbyist’ is a tag some people are confused with. I think the city needs a representative in Washington -something a little broader than a lobbyist. A lobbyist deals almost exclusively with Congress, specifically with legislation. Our needs include this, but go far beyond.”
Don Hicks, mayor pro tern, Place 1, South Oak Cliff: “At the present time, we don’t need one. The City of Dallas has consistently argued that we don’t need federal funds. It seems hypocritical that we say this and then send a lobbyist. If the majority of the council votes that we need to go after everything [federal funds], that’s a different story.”
Fred Blair, deputy mayor pro tern, Place 8, Southeast Oak Cliff: “I strongly supported a Washington lobbyist from the start. I’m still in favor of it. It’s important -a must for the city, and we need to get on with it. I wish we were voting on it tomorrow.”
Joe Haggar, Place 3, Northwest Dallas: “I’m not in favor of a lobbyist. This city is important enough that if the mayor or city manager wants to see anyone in Washington, they can. Our senators and representatives have big staffs that can keep us apprised of what’s happening. It is just another link in a chain of unnecessary expenses.”
Lee Simpson, Place 5, Northeast Dallas: “This is one case where, if you can’t do it right, it’s not worth it. I don’t think the council is close enough to decide what the job should be. What I heard described is the kind of thing Adrian Acevedo [Dallas assistant city attorney] does in Austin. That’s different than what a lobbyist connotes.”
Ricardo Medrano, Place 2, North Oak Cliff, West Dallas and western North Dallas: “An international city like Dallas cannot afford not to have a full-time Washington lobbyist. Our city representative could help our congressional people obtain our fair share-federal grants and so forth.”
Elsie Faye Heggins, Place 6, South Dallas: “I’m supporting it. I always have. The only reason we don’t have a lobbyist is because some of the city council members didn’t like who we chose.”
Rolan Tucker, Place 4, Central and North Dallas: “By and large, we ought to have someone on the staff who keeps up on what is affecting the city in terms of legislation-probably the alternative to someone who stays in Washington.”
Wes Wise, Place 10, at large: No comment.