So, If You're Lobbying Dallas City Hall, You Need to Report To, Um, Everyone?

The city finally came up with that list of city officials with whom lobbyists must report contacts under the new lobby reform ordinance that goes into effect a week from now. The lobbyists had been bitching behind the scenes because the city was taking months to come up with the list. Now that we see the list, it's ... uh ... pretty obvious? Elected officials, appointees and department heads. It took months for City Hall to generate this list? We could have done it with a City Hall phone book in about two minutes.

It will be interesting to see how this works in the actual implementation. The list includes City Secretary Deborah Watkins, for example. Does that mean the lobbyists have to go online and fill in a little electronic form every time they call the City Secretary's Office or walk into her office?

You mean the lobbyists have to report every time they go in there to get an agenda? But if not, what? Couldn't the lobbyists say, "Oh, I didn't report that contact with Ms. Watkins because it was just a routine inquiry?"

Here we go with a huge amount of "paperwork" (even though a lot of it will be done digitally) for purposes that are difficult for a veteran reporter to divine. The entry one would love to find on the lobbyist self-tattle-tale page would be, "Met with mayor at 9 a.m. and offered hundred grand toward Senate campaign in exchange for zoning vote on my client's deal."

One doubts.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze