Lobbyist contract comes up

CITY HALL — After two months without a federal lobbyist, the City Council is expected to approve a temporary contract with its former lobbying firm until the bidding process for a new one is completed.

The council will review a contract with Washington, D.C.-based David Turch and Associates from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, when city officials expect the new bidding process to be finished.

The city has gone without federal lobbying services since June 30, when the council voted 3 to 2 against a one-year, $88,000 renewal with Turch, instead deciding to explore other possibilities. Turch had represented the city since January 2003.

But with Congress set to return from recess in September, and with tens of millions of economic stimulus dollars expected to flow, Councilman Ara Najarian, who was against cutting ties with Turch, requested that a temporary contract come to the dais so the city would not go unrepresented and get left out.

“I think it is very important that we have someone currently advocating for us in Washington during the time that we develop the process for the request for proposals,” Najarian said Friday.

Congress spent much of July working on federal appropriation bills and will continue when legislators return to Washington next month in an attempt to meet a Sept. 30 deadline.

Najarian said important issues for the city — such as transportation, public safety and housing — would be addressed by federal lawmakers in coming weeks.

“There’s just many, many different categories of funding that are coming up for review and inclusion in legislation for appropriation,” he said.

In July, Turch said he was interested in continuing his work with the city.

“The reason all these cities have us is because we do a real good job,” he said.

Since hiring Turch, the city received $5.8 million in federal funds for a variety of projects, including the Foothill Regional Forensic DNA Laboratory.

Councilman John Drayman, who voted in favor of opening up the bidding process, said while nearly $6 million sounds like a lot, the number is not as high considering the five years it spans.

“We are the third-largest city in L.A. County, and I’m not sure we are getting our fair share,” he said.

Turch points to his business with Burbank and La Cañada Flintridge, but many other Southern California cities Turch represents, such as Riverside, Chino and Palmdale, have different priorities than Glendale, Drayman said.

Still, he said he supported Najarian’s wish for the city to have someone in Washington until a new firm is chosen.

“I agreed with Mr. Najarian that we need someone in the interim, so I agreed to bring it back,” he said.

But he also said that he was not ready to “rubber stamp” Turch’s initial contract renewal without seeing which lobbyists other cities in Los Angeles County, such as Santa Monica and Pasadena, use.

“I have some reservations about Mr. Turch,” he said. “But my main thing is I want to see who else is out there.”

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