By Stephen Elliot via Nashville Post
Metro Government is seeking a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., who can help the city take advantage of President Trump’s campaign promises of big spending on infrastructure.
A request for quotation, which opened Tuesday, calls for proposals from a consulting firm “to supplement and complement” the city’s efforts to maximize its relationship with the federal government during the course of a five-year contract.
“The results of the 2016 elections indicate a potential opportunity for Nashville to gain assistance from the federal government for infrastructure and other physical improvements,” the call for proposals says. “It is possible that earmarks will return or that block grants will be created to spur job growth.”
Responses are due March 8 and interviews with potential lobbying firms are planned for the week of March 13.
Bill Phillips, formerly a lobbyist for Metro at the Tennessee General Assembly and before that deputy mayor under Bill Purcell, said he was not aware of prior examples of Metro hiring lobbyists in Washington. (A Metro Finance Department spokesperson also said he thought it was the first time Metro had hired a lobbyist in Washington.)
“Cities across the country have federal lobbyists, so it’s not all that unusual,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that he personally conducted some of those duties — by communicating with the Tennessee congressional delegation and officials in the White House — while he was on staff in the mayor’s office.
Mayor Megan Barry has already had the chance to directly lobby the new president on transportation issues. While sitting down with civil rights leader Andrew Young last month, Trump called the latter, who passed the phone to Barry.
“The President has indicated that infrastructure is going to be one of his top priorities. To the extent that federal funds for transit are available, we want to make sure Metro is well-positioned to obtain those dollars for our citizens’ benefit,” Zak Kelley, Metro Finance Department spokesperson, added in an emailed statement.
The proposed lobbying contract calls for a full-time physical presence in Washington and strong relationships with the Tennessee congressional delegation and the White House. In addition to transportation and infrastructure, Metro listed education, public safety and job creation as other topics of focus for the lobbyist.
Metro plans to complete negotiations with the selected lobbyist by early April.