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12/5/2013 6:02:00 AM
Does Mohave County need a lobbyist?
Officials discuss ways to track legislative activity
Buster Johnson
Buster Johnson

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - When the Arizona Legislature meets for the 51st legislative session beginning in January, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors wants to be ready to actively and closely follow its progress.

That's why the Board is planning to hire someone to keep track of House and Senate bills once they start moving through the process. Supervisor Buster Johnson, District 3, placed the issue on a recent meeting agenda so the Board could consider it before the new legislative session takes off.

The county had a lobbyist, Mike Williams & Associates of Phoenix, and paid $75,000 annually to the firm about 12 years ago, but hasn't had one since.

"Now is obviously the time to discuss hiring someone from the Phoenix area, such as a lobbying firm, not to lobby on our behalf but to monitor legislation and keep us informed on a daily basis," said Johnson. "It wouldn't be cheap, but it would allow us to decide if we want to vote for or against something. We don't seem to be getting the timely reports on legislation that affects our pocketbooks."

The Board agreed this week to send the issue back to staff for a recommendation as soon as possible on whether to hire a part-time employee, contract with a lobbying firm or put together a job description for a full-time employee that includes legislative liaison and other functions. No date has been set for discussing the recommendation.

Legislative sessions usually last between 100 and 120 days, said Johnson, and an established lobbying firm with other customers would charge $2,000 or $3,000 a month for the job. Johnson said whoever takes the job would need to live in Phoenix during that time and be in the halls of the statehouse as the activity unfolds. They must have a good working knowledge of the players and know who will tell them the status of various bills, he added.

Supervisor Hildy Angius, District 2, agreed with Johnson about the need for someone to monitor bills during the session and said she liked his idea of hiring a part-time lobbyist to serve as a fact finder. Angius said the Board has been mulling over the idea for the past few months and how to go about it so it won't be so expensive for the county.

"One of the most frustrating things for me since I've been here is what Supervisor Johnson is saying, that we seem to find things out after the fact," said Angius. "That's been detrimental to the whole county. These bills change on a minute-to-minute basis sometimes, and to have someone there say, 'Hey, heads up' and 'You've got to get down here' is what we've been missing."

But Chairman Gary Watson, District 1, offered another suggestion. Instead of hiring a Phoenix firm, he said, a local person could monitor the bills in Phoenix during the legislative session and keep the Board informed. Watson said the Board found itself at odds with the former lobbying firm on various issues, which made for a difficult relationship.

"This has been an item I'm concerned about, too," said Watson. "Things change down there by the hour sometimes. What I've thought about is hiring a person here for that job and possibly some other jobs who would be a special projects person. There are several projects that I'd love to have someone work on. The Legislature is only supposed to act for about 100 days, so we can't hire a person just for that. But if we tie in some other jobs, it would work."

Supervisor Steven Moss, District 5, agreed with Watson and seconded his motion. Moss said legislative bills are constantly posted on the Internet, so instead of sending an employee to Phoenix, that person could remain in Kingman and be in charge of monitoring the progress and any changes to the bills on a computer and letting the Board know.

"I really liked the chairman's suggestion that we send this back to staff and have this idea tweaked a little bit because I think what Supervisor Johnson and Supervisor Angius have identified is absolutely correct," said Moss. "We are finding out about problems after they have already arisen instead of when they're in the making and if we knew, we could intervene and nip them in the bud instead of spending time and resources trying to undo the explosion."

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Related Stories:
• Letter: Arizona Legislature needs watching
• Mohave County moves quickly on new position to monitor Legislature
• Lobbyist proposal turns into new Mohave County employee

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Lobbyist or someone's friend getting a political pay back? I guess this is the GOP way!

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

A lobbyist or a religious revival? That is the better question! Why does the county harbor so many people who seem to be blind biblical goats, obsessed with racism but denying it and hiding behind fake patriotism! Guess Jesus will sort them out some to his flock of sheep/sheeple and others to the flock of goats each to a different pasture for all eternity!

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013
Article comment by: Guess It Is Really Our Fault For Voting Republican

H. Q, I'm in total agreement. Unfortunately attracting jobs is tough work. Our county and city government is lazy. They tout tourism because it shows small immediate gains (mostly for the owners of tourism dependent businesses). At a time when the citizens of this area are desparate for good jobs we have this Republicanism mentality that continues to look at everything else.

Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Article comment by: H Q

Mohave County doesn't need to be spending our tax dollars on a lobbylst. Put the funds into economic development and get some " real" jobs!

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Article comment by: New Reality Show - A Week in The Life

Nikki, that would be an interesting and informative endeavor for the Miner, Standard, and or community access channel. Follow the mayor, or council members or Board of Supervisor for a week and document what goes on. Maybe we could take Mayor Watson up on her desire to see the community access channel "do more".

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: THE TEA PARTY IS ON KOCH

Looks like you went from one bad dream right into another mr. parker. Did you think things were going to different with republicans in control? Not Bloody Likely! republicans/democrats..they are all the same.

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

Mohave County needs a lobbyist like a fish needs a bicycle.

I wish the comments posted here would've been listened to by the liberals that ran things in the city I lived in before. What a waste of money.

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

I do not see a compelling reason to hire a lobbyist for Mohave County. As soon as I get a chef and a maid, you can have a lobbyist. Use your smart phone, much cheaper than a lobbyist.

Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2013
Article comment by: BOS needs to go ALL of them!

Lobbyist? Special Projects Person? WHAT? I thought the county has a hiring freeze? Every department is doing more, with less BUT the Administration! They keep ‘creating’ new titles and positions with the requisite higher salaries within their midst while telling all of the other county departments they can’t fill positions and taking funding for existing positions away due to a hiring freeze and ‘tight’ county budget! And NOW the BOS is getting in on the decisions to ‘create’ new positions during a county imposed hiring freeze and spend money like mad for a position to do what they and the representatives we already pay don’t do because it’s too much for them? Outrageous!

They ALL need to go, with Buster being the FIRST ONE! He keeps dreaming up ways to spend county money for his own agenda! It’s NOT his money! It’s the citizens of Mohave County that pay for his and the rest of BOS pet projects and I’m sick of it!

Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2013
Article comment by: An Observation

This is just one more example of someone not wanting to do the job they were hired for. These 5 were hired by vote of the people yet never seem to do anything that requires work, action, thought or decision. Return the issue to staff seems to be the rule. This can be loosely translated as I have no idea what is going on and I am too lazy to try to find out. The County has a hiring freeze. Staff have duties and responsibilities to the public in administering programs paid for by the people. When a Supervisor sends it back to staff it creates a supervisor priority that interrupts other work that is, 9 times out of 10, much more important than a supervisors politically motivated agenda. Nothing different here just another example of poor management and thoughtless delegation.

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013
Article comment by: Do Some Research

All of the BOS and their staff have Internet access. The information that they seek is available online and they don't need some "special interest" group to do their work. Does anyone in the County know what "Due Diligence" is? It is simply doing your job. It seems these people are so used to delegating duty to others at our expense that they think they don't have to do anything. They should be treated like any employee that doesn't show up for work.

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

$80 grand a year (plus perks) to meet twice a month and review papers/reports and do photo ops the rest of the time. Wow...nice gig if you can get it.

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody sr

for crying out loud!
can this county / city find more ways to spend/ waste money?
times are rough, yet these clowns seek more ways to spend our money!
how about fixing the roads? lower taxes? entice business's to locate here?
no, they seek new ways to spend the $$ that are in short supply!
Uh, exactly what do we pay our senators and congress people for?
come election time , please elect NEW people, the current ones are NOT looking out for US!

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013
Article comment by: DENISE BENSUSAN

Looks like so far the citizens of Mohave County think you guys ought to be working harder for this community......It is your JOB after all. Your paid well for it.! Stop passing the buck and get IT in gear!

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: THE TEA PARTY IS ON KOCH

For crying out loud! Our representatives or this areacannot keep up with what the state legislature is doing? There all neo-conservative/tea party buddies. This is a no brainer! No to lobbyists!

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: R B

Sometimes a lobbyist serves the function of helping to prevent enactment of someone's scheme for creatively wasting our money, and may at times make it possible to avoid the unleashing of a new plague of leeches.

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: gun owner 000

I know Buster means well, but one thing we have way too many of in this United States of America are politicians. We don't need any more career politicians, or lobbyists. The majority of them are worthless, parasites that serve no purpose than to collect a large paycheck that they don't deserve. We already have too many leeches in County Government as it is.

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Not So Fast

Seems like there is certainly enough business to justify a lobbyist. The quicker the supervisors get the information, the better.

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: H Q

This BOS can find more ways to waste our money on and they claim to be fiscal conservatives? But they don't listen to us the voters. The fact that Watson suggest it be a local
person leads me to believe that Brothernton will make a motion that liengerfieter be offered the position now that Kingman didn't select him for City Manager.

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Educating the Supervisors


Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Etta Mockenhaupt

It’s about time! For far too long, Kingman has been kept in the dark regarding important legislation that affects its local constituents, but in this economy, can we afford, approx $75,000 annually?

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Dennis Jablonski

I have read the article, and understand the situation. What are we paying our local and state Senators and Representatives for, anyway ??? Don't we already pay folks to do this for us?

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Nikki B

If the legislature can be monitored over the internet from Kingman, shouldn't the supervisors or the Chairman be monitoring it?

I guess I'm not sure what takes up all the supervisors time. Can someone educate me on what a day to day looks like for a supervisor?

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Mohave County Legislative Representitave

I may be mistaken but isn't it the job of our representatives in the state Legislature's job to stay on top of legislation? Why should we need a 3rd party to do this when they are there to represent us and keep us apprized of what is going on in Phoenix? Doesn't the BOS communicate with our representatives?

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: DENISE BENSUSAN

Lobbyist are everything that is wrong with politics. So, lets jump right on in with the devil! Lobbyist own the politicians and money buys the decisions and the laws. Why dont we be the ones that STOP whats wrong with American politics instead of joining in on the lies, manipulations and the PAY OFFS!

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