Thursday, February 04, 2010

How special interests affect city business

TRYON, N.C. - From Charlotte City Council retreat. They've just wrapped up discussion on the council-staff operating agreement. And Michael Barnes (District 4) brought up an interesting point: With all this talk about treating people with mutual respect and sharing information, etc., how do you account for the reality of special interest groups? (I'm paraphrasing there.)
"A lot of people are impacted by special interest groups and they don't tell us – staff and elected officials." Third-party groups will meet with staff, or elected officials, and then things change. "If you're not party to those third-party discussions, you don't know what's happening," Barnes said. "You don't know what the arrangements are between the special interest groups and staff or elected officials."
Ultimately, he said, that's the reality of politics.

He's hit on a key point – and one that hurts mutual trust. If a staffer has been browbeaten by developers (just to take an example), and dials back on a proposal how are elected officials to know? Or, for instance, if elected officials decide to throw some candy toward a civic group they favor, how is staff supposed to deal with that?

But after Barnes brought that up, the honorables just sort of said um, and ended that chapter of the retreat agenda.


Anonymous said...

Typical council -- invoke staff as the reason why they can't get good information. Last time I checked, staff can't even cross the street without council's approval. Such a cop out....

Anonymous said...

what if the special interest group hires the mayor? and the board of that group give the mayor over 80k in campaign funds should that be an issue?

(at some point Mary is going to have to acknowledge this)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"But after Barnes brought that up, the honorables just sort of said um, and ended that chapter of the retreat agenda."

Translation: "We are for sale to the special interests, and we really don't feel like telling everybody to who/at how much we wh*re ourselves, especially when it's only a $1k campaign contribution."

Anon 10:12 - Good point, but I'd like to remind you that holding your breath could be hazardous to your health.