One city contractor pushed a white business envelope across the table toward me at our first meeting as if it was a test. Another business owners’ representative tried to “comp” my lunch bill as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Coronado Hustlers and Conmen
Coronado city government needs major reform.
My above experiences and others reveal that there is a deeply entrenched pay-to-play city government in Coronado.
As a Coronado city official, I have been offered things of value by those who have business before the city council. Naturally I turned them all down.
By now mostly everyone knows that my votes aren’t for sale. I focus on the facts and the law and make the best decisions for the greater good of all Coronado residents.
My Natural Responses
In the first situation above, my natural reflex was to push the envelope away and firmly declare, “No! I never take anything from anyone, ever.”
That was my first and last meeting with representatives of that city contractor, despite their multiple requests.
In the second situation, I declined the offer to walk out of the restaurant without paying for my meal because I always pay my own way.
Naturally, I paid my lunch bill.
If you haven’t done so already, go see the movie American Hustle.
I found striking similarities in the movie to my experiences in Coronado.
In the movie, the mayor of Camden says with false concern and an attitude of condescension that he took the bribe “to help his town.” That’s the kind of arrogance, greed and deception we see on display virtually every day in government.
[Photo credits Francois Duhamel/ AP - The cast of “American Hustle” includes, from left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence.]
As Richard Leiby writes about American Hustle in his 26 December 2014 Washington Post article:
The massive FBI anti-corruption operation known as Abscam captured the public imagination in 1980 with a cinematic cast of characters: phony Arab sheiks, real mobsters, corrupt local politicians, U.S. congressmen on the take — all of it orchestrated by a cigar-chomping con artist paid by the feds to set up stings.
And the best thing was, they videotaped everything. Now, anybody who thought it could be a movie can stand proud: Abscam forges the spine of “American Hustle,” in theaters now, which opens with the on-screen words: “Some of this actually happened.” . . .
The undercover operation [from 1978 to 1980] put six congressional representatives and one senator in prison for bribery and conspiracy, and secured nearly a dozen other significant convictions. Yet [former FBI supervisor John] Good says he and his main partner, FBI undercover agent Tony Amoroso, both now in their 70s, were “totally surprised” that
anyone wanted to revisit Abscam, a largely forgotten scandal. . .
Many agree it could never happen again, mainly because stricter guidelines were imposed on sting operations. But today offering bribes in exchange for legislation seems almost quaint.
“The lobbyists do the same things we did, only to a much greater degree,” Good says.
Thirty-five years ago, Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, a Philadelphia Democrat, famously said on an Abscam tape: “Money talks in this business and bulls— walks.”
“It’s probably more true today than it was then,” Myers says now. Expelled from Congress, he served 21 months in prison for taking a $50,000 bribe. . .
To read the rest of Leiby’s Washington Post article, click here.
Lobbyists or Modern American Hustlers?
As former FBI supervisor Good is quoted saying above, today lobbyists do the same thing they did in the Abscam sting operation, only to a much greater degree.
Now you know why I vote NO on the Coronado lobbyist contract renewals.
I’ve been crystal clear on the record during our public meetings that the Coronado lobbyist contract wastes taxpayer dollars.
I’ve also been vocal on the record in stating that the Coronado lobbyist contract isn’t cost-effective because there are no measurable successes or positive results ever reported to the public whose tax dollars pay for the lobbyist firm.
Rubber Stamping the Waste of Tax Dollars
Yet like clockwork, the lobbying firm representatives show up regularly at council meetings and expect their contract renewal to be rubber stamped 5-0 by the mayor and council members.
As you may have guessed, the mayor and councilmen rubber stamp their contract renewal, but I don’t. By a 4-1 vote with myself dissenting, the outside lobbyists stay in the money with Coronado tax dollars. These lobbyists are pleasant folks in fine-looking suits, but I’m not buying what they’re selling.
Why am I not buying it? Because no one can show the public how the outside lobbying firm benefits Coronado residents and taxpayers.
No Proof of Benefits from Outside Lobbying Activity
Curiouser and curiouser, for some publicly unknown reason the Coronado mayor and councilmen keep repeating how the lobbyist firm is “worth it” because of “all that the lobbying firm does for us.” Who’s this “us”? And what “all” do the lobbyists do for “us”?
City officials never state any specific facts or defined successes or positive results that are measurable. All they have to offer is their vague bluster.
There is nothing of value to Coronado residents for the mayor and councilmen to publicly point to as the purported “effectiveness” of the hired lobbyists relative to the high cost to Coronado taxpayers.
Lobbying Isn’t Cost-Effective for Residents & Taxpayers
As a result, it’s clear to critical thinkers that there’s nothing behind that lobbying curtain. There exists no proof that the outside lobbying firm is cost-effective.
By the years and years and years of lack of proof stating otherwise, it’s logical to conclude that the lobbying firm hired by Coronado isn’t cost-effective. Coronado taxpayers aren’t getting anything of value for their public money that city officials repeatedly choose to throw at the outside lobbying firm.
Critical thinkers focus on this question: For whom exactly is the lobbyist “worth it”? Not the taxpayers of Coronado. Not the residents of Coronado.
Do you know whether city officials direct the lobbying firm to advocate against the best interests of Coronado residents?
Lobbying Lacks Transparency
Now I’ll add to my list of reasons why Coronado should stop wasting Coronado taxpayer dollars on the ineffective lobbyist firm contract renewals: Lobbying carries an inherent risk of behind-closed-doors activities that have no place in an open, transparent, straightforward city government.
Coronado city isn’t an open, transparent and straightforward local government. It will require a tremendous amount of reform before it works the way it’s supposed to work . . . for the people of Coronado . . . instead of for the hustlers, conmen and cronies.
One baby step in the right direction is for Coronado city officials to fire the outside lobbying firm.
Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.