Monday, May 28, 2007

Columbia's Expensive Reasoning

In the weekend edition of the NY Sun, the paper reports on the lobbying effort of Columbia in its pursuit of campus expansion. Now, we'd be the last ones to chastise anyone for spending money on lobbying, but even we were blown away by the information that the university is apparently paying Bill Lynch $40,000 a month to represent its interests.

That's quite impressive indeed. We aren't aware of any single lobbyists being paid that kind of money. Maybe Guy Molinari got more from NASCAR, but we're not sure that it surpasses the Lynch retainer. Bill must be working awfully hard on the university's behalf, although without any real disrespect to Bill, we really wonder if Columbia's getting its money's worth in the deal.

The Sun piece does mention that RLA has been retained, at a greatly reduced fee, to represent the interests of property owner Nick Sprayregen. The resource disparity indicates that, as Nick tells the paper, "These eminent domain fights are like David vs. Goliath..." We'd love to see old BL try to take on an underdog in any lobbying battle. Don't hold your breathe. Like his mentor David Dinkins, those kinds of struggles are museum pieces in his resume.

We are, however, reaching a critical juncture in this particular battle. Once certain moves are made to expose the blatant self-aggrandizement of the university, we will find out whether Columbia has indeed invested wisely. One thing that we have learned, though, working for Goliath doesn't always allow you to fully demonstrate any innate ability to influence the political process.