The Suffolk County Legislature’s Democratic majority is eyeing the hiring of an Albany lobbyist to represent its views in the state capital and are looking to put forward a procedural resolution at the last legislative meeting of the year Tuesday.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said contenders include Gotham Government Relations headed by Brad Gerstman and David Schwartz; Empire State Strategies headed by Arthur “Jerry” Kremer; local lobbyist George Hoffman; and County Executive Steve Bellone’s former Albany lobbyist Luis Montes, also Islip Democratic chairman.
The county executive traditionally has handled Albany lobbying. The work is being done by Bellone Chief of Staff Lisa Black and Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman.
Gregory said funding for Albany lobbying will come from the legislature's $40,000 budget for consulting work.
“With a new Democratic State Senate and Assembly we want to be able to weigh on matters of state importance,” said Gregory.
“We are not sure why this expense is warranted but we are willing to discuss the matter with the presiding officer,” said Bellone spokesman Jason Elan.
Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), minority caucus leader, called the proposed spending unnecessary.
“We have potholes in the streets, need employees in 911 call centers ... and we have enough high-paid staff to do an effective job in Albany, especially with a Democratic Senate majority," Cilmi said. "This just seems like a move to write a check to someone who needs an additional check.”