City Reups With Lobbyist

July 14, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Two city commissioners tried to sway the commission last week to not extend the city's contract for three years with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., a lobbyist based in Lansing

But their lobbying effort fell short.

First Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak and 2nd Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala objected to spending $217,723 to have GCSI continue to represent the city on legislative issues for the next three years.

Jendrasiak said the money could be better spent in other areas. Tormala said the city is already represented in Lansing through its membership in the Michigan Municipal League, a statewide organization that looks out for the interests of cities and villages.

Tormala also said that commissioners have gotten some grief for hiring a sustainability director, a position that begins on Jan. 1 with a starting pay of $154,200, while having had to lay off hundreds of employees over the past four years.

But 1st Ward Commissioner Roy Schmidt said the relationship the city has had with GCSI has been a good one, and he believes it will continue to benefit the city. He said GCSI might be able to help restore some state revenue-sharing dollars to the city. He also said the city has done the best it could under the current financial circumstances.

"We have been good stewards. We eliminated our in-house lobbyists, which cost us $10,000," said Schmidt.

The city will pay GCSI $5,988 a month, or $71,856 a year, to represent its interests in the state capital for the next two years. The city's cost will rise by 3 percent in the third year to $74,011. GSCI has represented the city in Lansing since 1988.

GSCI, which bills itself as "Michigan's Premiere Lobbying Firm," was founded in 1983 and is run by 13 directors who have affiliations with both political parties.   

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