The Pasco County Commission has rejected the process used by county staff to recommend an outside lobbyist.
Instead, commissioners want to hear a 10-minute presentation from each of the three firms vying for the work, before making their selection.
The proposed contract calls for a maximum of $60,000 a year for the services, with the option of up to three one-year renewals. County Administrator Dan Biles would be designated to authorize the optional annual extensions.
Initially, Corcoran and Associates, doing business as Corcoran Partners; Shawn Foster LLC, doing business as Sunrise Consulting Group; and Shumaker Advisers Florida LLC, responded to the request for qualifications to compete for the work.
A four-member committee met and evaluated all of the proposals, they scored the Corcoran Partners’ proposal as the highest. The committee, which ranked the proposals, was made up of Biles, Cathy Pearson, Paula Baracaldo and Ralph Lair.
But, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey raised objections to the process.
“So, I’m not happy with the way this was done,” Starkey said. “When we picked our last lobbyist, we had presentations and the board selected the lobbyist. I’m not comfortable with the way that this went down.”
Starkey made a motion to delay the selection until the board’s Dec. 8 meeting, during which the three firms each will be invited to make a 10-minute presentation, followed by the board’s selection.
Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick seconded Starkey’s motion.
Commissioner Jack Mariano asked Starkey if she was OK with the lobbyist missing a couple of weeks while lawmakers are in Tallahassee.
Starkey responded: “I know time is of the essence, but I think this is — did you hear the presentations? Was there a presentation? I don’t know. But, I think it’s not staff’s lobbyist. I think we’re the policymakers. I think it’s more appropriate that we hear the presentation. So, I’m disappointed that the process that was set in place last time was changed. I think we should have been asked about the process.
“Dec. 8, we listen and we pick, and we get them to work right away,” Starkey said.
Commissioner Ron Oakley said he thinks there may have been a miscommunication between the board and the staff.
“I think they actually did a process based on us giving direction to reach out to lobbyists for this. Maybe we were not as clear as we should have been and said we wanted presentations. I don’t remember us talking about this,” Oakley said.
Erik Breitenbach, assistant county administrator for internal services, said the county staff followed the standard request for qualifications process.
He said the committee did not receive any presentations from the firms, but rather discussed and ranked the submittals.
Starkey has been pushing hard for the county to have outside lobbyists to represent the county both at the state and national levels. She said having someone to represent the county’s interests will create more opportunities to obtain state or federal funding or grants.
Board members approved Starkey’s motion to delay choosing a lobbyist until the Dec. 8 meeting, voting 5-0.
Published November 25, 2020
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