Lobbying at City Hall
By Gilbert Garcia
ago, when attorney Ted Lee publicly confronted District 8 Councilwoman
Diane Cibrian over her role in the City's zoning process, one of his
big assertions was that Cibrian has an overly chummy relationship with
lobbyist Bill Kaufman.
which looked into Cibrian's front-end role in the zoning process last
month ["Boundary Issues," February 4, 2009], recently filed an
open-records request with the City to look at email communications
between Cibrian and Kaufman in the two years since she became a member
While the emails do not provide any examples of
Kaufman explicitly bending Cibrian's thinking to suit his lobbying
agenda, they do indicate that a mutual-admiration society exists
between the lobbyist and the Councilmember.
Cibrian addressed the North Chamber of Commerce in November, 2007, she
sent Kaufman this email request for advice: "Hi Bil, I am speaking for
20 minutes. Any tips?" He responded like a diligent City Hall staffer:
"Pro economic development, improving Development Services, having City
Staff be responsive to businesses, bring reasonableness to zoning cases
(you are personally involved) — you know, your normal speech. You want
to help small business grow in a regulated environment. You may, or may
not, want to address term limits."
That same week, Cibrian sent
Kaufman the following email: "I would like to visit with you about how
we can make the zoning process better at City Council meetings. After
you left, I had a difficult time." Kaufman quickly responded: "You bet.
When do you have time available?"
Beyond the cryptic "after you
left, I had a difficult time" comment from Cibrian, it's a legitimate
question why an elected official should feel compelled to have summits
with lobbyists to make the zoning process flow more smoothly.
also get the occasional "you are great" and "you made my day" notes
from Kaufman to Cibrian, and one effusive testimonial from the
Councilwoman in response to a critical letter from neighborhood
activist Cynthia Nemcik about Kaufman. Nemcik opposed the commercial
development of two acres of residential property at Green Glen and Oak
Grove, a project for which Kaufman lobbied.
Cibrian reassures an
aggravated Kaufman this way: "I have always found you to be highly
professional, ethical, and honest. I was quite surprised by the email
Ms. Nemcick sent to me. Please disregard her letter as i have found
much of the information she provides to be highly inaccurate and
unfortunate. You have worked very hard with my office and the
neighborhood to come to a positive resolution on this case. As a
result, you have my full support."
Probably the pithiest
exchange between Cibrian and Kaufman occurred on November 29, 2007.
Cibrian sent Kaufman an email with the subject line: "Your being bashed
at Council," and wrote: "You should consider listening...". He shot
back: "On what issue?" She responded: "Zoning over aquifer for VIA
Posted by gilgamesh470 on 3/6/2009 5:39:45 PM
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