Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward announced on Friday his first proactive initiative for 2014 -the creation of a lobbyist registry for those seeking an audience with the mayor, his staff or city council members. The details of the registry have yet to be posted on the city’s website, but the mayor did offer his explanation of how it would it work.
“Anyone who is paid to speak at City Council meetings or who seeks a meeting with a City official to lobby on behalf of another individual, organization, or interest group should be required to register as a lobbyist,” said Mayor. “As part of that process, lobbyists should be required to disclose the clients they represent as well as the subject matters they seek to influence, and citizens should have access to that information.”
We need to see Hayward’s written plan to see who falls under the definition of lobbyist. Does it mean an employee who is seeking help for his company on a zoning or other issue? Or attorney’s seeking clarification on recommendation before a council or city board? What is the penalty if someone doesn’t register and simply calls a council member?
And most importantly, has this been a problem? Will the mayor offer some examples of when a lobbyist registry would have made a difference for his city of less than 53,000 people?
In his “Upwords” newsletter, the mayor said the registry is part of his efforts to restore in city government. He did not mention the outcome of his attorney Rob Larkin’s five-week investigation into the possible ethics and elections violations by his former press secretary and current city websmaster Derek Cosson. Maybe we will read something in the next “Upwords.”