Frustrated with a and what Monrovia officials describe as eroding local control in California, the voted last week to hire a lobbying firm to help advance the city's agenda in the state capitol.
The council gave the $3,000-per-month contract to lobbying firm Joe A. Gonsalves & Son, a firm the city had previously worked with to obtain infrastructure bond monies in the late 1990s, City Manager Scott Ochoa said.
"Given the fractious nature of the Legislature and the likelihood for poor policy and poor decisions to emerge from this toxic environment, Staff believes it is prudent to retain the services of a Sacramento-based lobbyist to help the city safeguard our interests and further our goals," wrote Ochoa in an agenda report.
Jason Gonsalves, a partner in Gonsalves & Son, said in an interview that his firm will be focusing its efforts on a bill to allow Monrovia's Gold Line land deal to proceed.
The deal was recently stalled when the state supreme court issued a stay in a lawsuit . Monrovia has been shopping legislation to legislators that would exempt the city from that stay and allow the Gold Line deal to be completed.
"We’re going to be working on legislation to ensure the Gold Line moves forward without any future of impediments, irrespective of any future legislative or court action," Gonsalves said.
Ochoa said the city needs the help of lobbyists to fight against bills in Sacramento that take power away from municipalities.
"Right now is a really scary time for cities and for local governments," Ochoa said. "You have the annual and regular drumbeat for more centralized control in Sacramento and less discretion at the local level."
One such bill Ochoa mentioned was a measure being considered by the state legislature that would effectively bar cities from contracting out their library staff. He said the city has no desire to do so, but fears it could set a precedent.
"That’s not a decision that the legislature should be making...because ultimately they’re not paying that bill," Ochoa said.
Though the city is a member of the League of California Cities, which employs its own lobbyists, Ochoa said the differing agendas among cities made it necessary for the city to retain its own lobbyists as well.
"...There is a limit in terms of the League’s effectiveness with respect to Monrovia-specific issues like advocating for special legislation and grant requests," Ochoa wrote in an agenda report.
The city can terminate its contract with Gonsalves & Son by giving 30 days notice, according to the report.