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With earmarks gone, Gateway cities slash federal lobbying budget in half

A coalition of area cities this month cut their federal lobbying budget in half.

The Gateway Cities Council of Governments at its September meeting reduced monthly payments to lobbyist Edington, Peel & Associates to $2,150 from $4,250. The change was in direct response to a tight federal budget and the cessation of earmarks, which is the process that allows members of congress to insert special spending items into legislation.

Downey and most every city in southeast Los Angeles County are part of the Gateway Cities group.

“Under the current national economic conditions and federal fiscal constraints grant funding opportunities are very limited, and federal lobbying opportunities have slowed as a result,” according to the Sept. 7 Gateway COG agenda.

The COG’s staff was happy with the lobbyist, but they saw fewer opportunities to get federal dollars, said Richard Powers, the COG’s executive director.

“We had no complaint about the firm,” he said. “The circumstances in Washington might change, and we both agreed we could revisit the contract if that were to happen.”

“We didn’t want to destroy the relationship, but we are trying to cut our expenses so we went ahead and reduced the amount,” he said.

Edington, Peel & Associates has been working for the COG since May 2009. The COG is still obligated to pay for all the firm’s COG-related travel expenses, according to the contract.

President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans have teamed up to ban earmarks, a move lamented by area lawmakers who say they have less power to get money for projects in the community.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, recently complained about the change at a meeting of the Water Replenishment District.




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