Oakland County’s contract with a lobbying firm that has drawn the ire of some on the Board of Commissioners is safe for now.
Commissioner Marcia Gershenson (D-West Bloomfield) and other Democrats sponsored a resolution to rescind the county’s two-year pact with Public Affairs Associates, a Lansing-based lobbying firm, but it was quashed in a 16-8 party-line vote by the full Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Gershenson said last week that she was disappointed in the board’s decision after the General Government Committee earlier this month voted to rescind the contract by a 6-1 vote.
“We were able to get enough votes (in committee) to rescind the contract because it did not go through the proper procedure,” she said. “It was not vetted, we didn’t vote on it, and it was a highly inappropriate decision.”
Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion) “administratively” extended the board’s contract with Public Affairs Associates — which took effect on June 30 and runs through June 30, 2014 — without a vote of the county board in June. The firm is paid $60,000 per year.
Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) said he was in favor of doing away with the board lobbyist contract but voted against rescinding it because he viewed the Democrats’ resolution as a political maneuver directed at Gingell.
“It was erroneous attack on our chairman and challenging his authority to extend the contract, which he does have,” Scott said.
Commissioner Jim Runestad (R-Waterford, White Lake) agreed.
“The legal counsel came in, the Purchasing Division came in, basically the entire administration came in to rebut that to say that he absolutely did have the authority to sign that (extension),” Runestad said.
Scott has said in the past that the county belongs to the Michigan Association for Counties, which does lobbying work for Oakland County. In addition, the county Executive’s Office and county Water Resources Commissioner’s Office contracts for lobbying services, according to Scott.
In addition, some have argued in the past that, because the county commission has members who are former state legislators and many former commissioners are now lawmakers serving in Lansing, having a lobbyist specifically for the county’s governing body provides no added benefits.