Catching up with ... Boise renews contract with lobbyist

Westerberg has lobbied the Legislature on the city's behalf since 2011.

sberg@idahostatesman.comJanuary 1, 2014 

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The terms of Russell Westerberg's contract with the city of Boise are the same this year as they've been the past three legislative sessions.

Boise will pay him a $10,000 retainer. In return, he'll monitor bills making their way through the legislature and report back on the ones that could affect the city, Boise spokesman Adam Park said.

If a specific bill is of interest, the city can "activate" Westerberg. That means Boise will pay him an extra $500 per day to talk to lawmakers and advocate for the city on the bill.

"The Legislature's work does have impact on the city, so it's good for us to pay attention," Park said.

Over the past three years, Boise has paid Westerberg $50,000, Park said. Most of that - $30,000 - was during the 2013 legislative session.

Boise is one of several governing bodies in the Treasure Valley that spend money to lobby the state. Ada County Highway District, which maintains roads in the county, paid Boise firm CapitolWest Public Policy Group $85,000 last year for lobbying work in the state, spokeswoman Christy Foltz-Ahlrichs said. The city of Meridian spends $48,000 a year for lobbying, spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski said.

Ada County's government doesn't have a budget for lobbying, said Larry Maneely, the county commissioners' chief of staff. Groups to which it pays dues, such as the Idaho Association of Counties and the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, do some lobbying for all their members, Ada County included. If further contact with lawmakers is necessary, the county sends Maneely or a member of the prosecuting attorney's team, Maneely said.

Besides Boise's city government, Westerberg's list of clients includes Boise's urban renewal agency, Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Conservation Officers Association and aircraft services company Western Aircraft. He has been a member of the Boise Airport Commission since 2007.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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