Is placing utility lobbyists on various city councils a good idea?
Normally, a company wants the undivided loyalty of its employees and the people in a municipality want to know they are being well-represented on their councils without external or undue influence.
So, how is it that the utility company that says it wants to “give back to the community” and permits their employees to run for city council, that candidates come solely from their lobbying shop? None have come from accounting or meter reading or engineering or the drafting departments.
The typical answer given is that the council member–lobbyist will recuse themselves in the event of a conflict. Perhaps … but, is that enough?
We all know that voting isn’t the only way to influence results or outcomes, and the council member with the conflict is also taking the place of one who doesn’t have a conflict. Additionally, lobbyists typically do two things: 1) they represent their utility’s business interests, and 2) they distribute “campaign contributions” to select politicians.
Which begs the final couple of real-life questions: “Should longtime utility lobbyists — Dick Foreman, for example — be running for the Tempe City Council?” and “Why should Tempe citizens have to wonder where a lobbyist’s loyalties lie or what he is doing while at the state Legislature?