Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Columbia's Lynchpin

How ironic. For the second time in the short span of a month we learn about the transgressions of lobbyists who have been retained to help expedite the eviction of local businesses in an eminent domain battle. In the first case it was elected official emeritus, Clire Shulman whose LDC was whacked to the tune of over $59,000 for her failure to register her LDC with the city for lobbying purposes.

Now, another lobbying eminence has a potential six figure problem-as the Politicker reports (via the Columbia Spectator): "The lobbying firm that Columbia hired to promote the Manhattanville campus expansion plan did not report a nearly $400,000 increase in income from the University, according to the state’s Commission on Public Integrity. On Sept. 3, CPI publicly alleged that Bill Lynch Associates, a Harlem-based political consulting firm, failed to file required documents disclosing that Columbia had increased its compensation by $390,000 in 2007."

Now in our view, and in spite of the fact that we were bested in this process when the city council approved the re-zoning, the crime here is how much Bill Lynch was actually paid-and that the university prevailed in spite of the fact that Lynch instituted one of the most inept astro turf efforts of all time. But, as we lamented at the time-and it bears repeating: "And for those who may be curious about the Lipsky lobbying retainer it is for $6,000 a month. Our experience over twenty five years only reinforces the observation that it doesn't pay as well to battle Goliath; but it generally is a good deal more satisfying."

Now we don't wish Lynch any great harm-since we're not fans of the regulators in general. But we might feel that it is worthwhile to examine where all of the Columbia money actually went. A great deal of dough was spread around in the process of attempting to separate Nick Sprayregen from his property. In our view, those grass roots could use a good weed remover.