How effective are the lobbying services of Strategic Counsel? Strategic Counsel has been awarded lobbying contracts with both the city of Compton and Compton Unified School District dating back to 2007. The contract value is $108,000 per year. In calendar year 2012-13 that figured swelled to $216,000. Compton residents are concerned if they are getting there monies worth. During the November 10, 2015 regular council meeting, Mel Agassai, had to prove the company’s value in order to retain their annual disbursement. Agassai’s business partner is current LAPD Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill.
The idea is the lobbying firms go after money on the state and federal level, drafting and tracking bills of interest to the city, in order to increase revenue.
To recap, the city was $40 million in the red at the beginning of current Mayor Aja Brown’s first term in 2013. The city was forced to increase their sales tax, a couple of months ago, which leaves residents scratching their heads as to what their return on investment (ROI) is.
Strategic Counsel gives regular power point updates to the city of Compton, where it was revealed Strategic Counsel receives a contract worth nearly 5x more than what neighboring cities pay for the same services. Strangely, no other vendor has been given an opportunity to work with the city for, previous bids, coming in lower than Strategic Counsels, are routinely disqualified.
Highlights from the 2015 contract:
- Strategic Counsel led and organized the effort, involving eleven other Los Angeles area cities, to protect Compton’s voter-approved pension tax, valued at $7 million annually in 2014, and in 2015 secured language in the Governor’s Local Government Trailer Bill that provides for the return to the City of Compton of the aforementioned $7 million annually; and
- Strategic Counsel facilitated meetings with the Department of Finance to gain commitment to clear the remaining obstacles preventing the completion of the Renaissance Plaza project, which has an economic impact to the City of $3 million; and
- Strategic Counsel facilitated the City’s application for a SB 535 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Disadvantaged Community Grant to create urban forests and green space in Compton, which ultimately had to be postponed due to competing projects; but represents a continuing grant opportunity for the City, and
- Strategic Counsel defended the City’s right to choose whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in its jurisdiction and successfully sought language in currently moving legislation that seeks to create a regulatory framework for medical marijuana at the state level and reclassification at the federal level; and
- Strategic Counsel assisted the City in preserving its revenue stream from Crystal Casino – nearly $2 million a year – by supporting the current regulatory framework around card rooms and voicing opposition to the easing of restrictions that allow Tribal Gaming Interests to claim traditionally off-reservation lands for gaming;
I have heard pro and con about the effectiveness and cost of this program. I think we need it, but not at this price. They do some good things.