Councilwoman Bruins calls Mayor Lee Eng’s lobbyist idea ‘naive’

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said she thinks other council members are being “naive” when they say the city should hire its own lobbyist.

Mayor Lynette Lee Eng suggested at Tuesday’s (July 9) council meeting the idea of the city hiring a lobbyist in Sacramento to keep an eye on legislation that may impact the city. She pointed out that Palo Alto and Cupertino have lobbyists in Sacramento.

Lee Eng is concerned about some of the housing bills pending in the legislature that would reduce the city’s control over new developments. On July 2, she sent a letter to Assemblyman David Chiu, objecting to Senate Bill 592, which would make it harder for cities to stop certain types of housing developments.

Vice Mayor Jan Pepper, who is CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy in San Mateo County, hired a lobbyist for her nonprofit organization.

Pepper said she thinks a lobbyist for a bigger city or a group of cities would have more sway in Sacramento than if the lobbyist just represented Los Altos, population 30,743.

Pepper also noted that she has one person who is in constant contact with their lobbyist, something that she thinks Los Altos does not have the staffing to do right now.

Bruins backed Pepper, and said she thought the council was being “naive” in the way it was approaching the topic, in thinking that the lobbyist would be regularly coming to council to discuss state legislation.

Teaming up with other cities

Both Bruins and Pepper said the city should join up with other like-minded small cities and towns to hire a lobbyist.

Councilwoman Anita Enander said she’s been researching the lobbyist idea, and is attending a conference this weekend in Southern California for the Independent Cities Association, which has its own lobbyist.

Enander said she will report back to the council as to what she learns at the conference, and will talk to officials there about how they got their lobbyists and their legislative agendas up and running.
“I have a hard time understanding why we are trying to learn from the county of Los Angeles,” Bruins said.

Pepper and Lee Eng thanked Enander for attending the conference, and Bruins asked Enander if the city is paying for Enander to attend.

Enander said that the city has paid her registration fee of $750. Enander added that City Manager Chris Jordan told her that if she wishes, she can ask the council to approve reimbursing her for her flight and other costs.

Bruins in July 2017, along with VTA and San Jose officials traveled to Barcelona and Amsterdam with funds from VTA and SPUR, a San Francisco-based political advocacy organization.

In November, Bruins along with other local officials attended a $29,000 taxpayer funded retreat on the housing crisis at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa in her capacity as a representative on the 21-member Metropolitan Transportation Commission. MTC is the $2 billion agency that operates, maintains and expands transit in the nine-county Bay Area.

The idea of Los Altos joining other cities to pay a lobbyist is expected to return to council later this year.

6 Comments

  1. [portion deleted — don’t make accusations without corroboration]

    Bruins also lectured Mayor Eng, on the latter taking office, on how to conduct herself as a Mayor and to not ask hard questions of City Hall staff. All this in the face of innumerable breaches of duties and good faith by the public servants.

    Add to all that what the PA Daily Post reports: Bruins’ own junkets, trips overseas, etc all funded by taxpayers.

    And now she has the audacity to probe Ms Enander’s attendance of a conference…and lecture others about being “naive”? Is there any level to which Bruins would NOT stoop to disgrace herself more than she already has?

  2. [portion deleted] Is spending money on as lobbyist a good use of taxpayer money? I can’t imagine that any decision in Sacramento is going to be swayed by a lobbyist working for our City Council. I would rather see the money spent locally. Thus, I tend to agree that spending money on a lobbyist is a naive idea.

  3. Large cities can afford to, and do, hire their own lobbyists.
    Medium and small cities can’t afford to.
    However they can band together, pool resources to hire lobbyists as that’s the cost of doing business in the political world and if you don’t your interests are going to be left by the side of the streets.

    As for Mayor Eng’s suggestion: it may be naive but good questions and ideas often start out that way. An “experienced” hand like Bruins could have built up on that by suggesting small/medium cities band together to hire lobbyists, etc. instead of being dismissive toward Mayor Eng which only goes to reinforce the dismissive, condescending, patronizing tone Bruins adopted when Mayor Eng took office earlier this year.

    What this all adds up to is confirmation of a pattern of White-on-Asian condescension and dismissal as practiced in Los Altos City Council. In 2019. Earlier by Jean Mordo (also reported by the PA Daily Post which has done yeoman work in covering these things) and now by Jeannie Bruins.

  4. Bruins was instrumental in disbanding the senior commission back in 2015 because some commissioners had supposedly been disrespectful to staff. The
    city hired a facilitator to “help set the stage for respectful interactions.” Then-Councilman Jean Mordo said the facilitator and city staff ran the meeting and “demonstrated total disrespect” for commissioners. Mordo said the facilitator and city staff ran the meeting and “demonstrated total disrespect” for commissioners. He advocated for commissioners to set their own agendas. “I think that’s the way we should run it if we want to be respectful of our residents.”

    Mordo went on to say that Bruins and Prochnow “are the most biased against what is being proposed. … I wouldn’t respect whatever you came up with.”

    The city also hired a consultant for $24,000 to facilitate a retreat in June. Focus was “How We Work Together.” Bruins demonstrates that doesn’t seem to have done much good. Can we get our money back?

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T. just a, just a, just a, just a little bit. Not in Los Altos!

  5. Saying that a lobbyist for a small town won’t matter in the Legislature is a lot like a person saying that their vote doesn’t matter because thousands or tens of thousands of other people will be voting, too.

    I think hiring a lobbyist would show legislators and other power-brokers in Sacramento that Los Altos is serious when it comes to fighting legislation that would damage our town, like SB50.

    One voice can have a big impact if that person is persuasive and has solid ideas. Of course Jeannie wouldn’t know about that, she thinks the way to get things done is bully people or add drama to the situation. Glad she’s a lame duck.

    Mayor Lee Eng is on the right track here, though it might be more cost-efficient if Los Altos teamed up with like-minded towns on hiring a lobbyist, to keep costs down. But I definitely think we need to lobby for our interests in Sacramento.

    • >…Los Altos is serious when it comes to fighting legislation… like SB50.

      Exactly why Jeannie Bruins who supports SB50 would want to derail any effort to challenge it and similar other efforts in Sacramento and would disparage, demean, condescend, and be dismissive and vindictive in petty ways of and toward her peers on Council, Mayor Eng and Councilmember Enander as reported by the Post.

      Ms Bruins, have you no shame?

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