I have listened to the recording supplied by thestoreyteller.online multiple times. I wanted to make certain that I heard Bum correctly, and had another person also listen. Bum claimed that the Louisiana John Wayne (Clay Higgins) is now supporting our zip code bill, and that he hadn’t in the previous session.
How is this possible? Clay Higgins was just elected. The term beginning in January 2017 is the first term he has served. It is impossible for someone who has not been in Congress before to support a bill or not. What is Bum talking about???
I decided to pick up the phone and call Congressman’s Higgins office. Believe it or not, I spoke with his assistant, Jordan. And she had NO idea what I was talking about, when I asked her about a bill that Mr. Higgins was going to support regarding a new zip code for our sales tax issues. Also, she stated that the office did not ever expect to speak with Mr. Gilman or Mr. Hess again. Odd, for someone who was going to support a bill for us, don’t you think?
As the conversation continued, Jordan explained that she did indeed meet Bum Hess and Lance Gilman….she bumped into them on the street!!! Really. And that there was absolutely NO policy related discussions at all. None. She did point out to me that there is another Mr. Higgins in Congress, and that perhaps that was the individual that did not previously support the bill. However, I would hope that our paid lobbyist would know the difference between the two men.
So, according to the assistant of the Congressman that is now going to support our zip code bill, Lance and Bum didn’t even offer one word on policy during the time they spent with her. On this taxpayer funded trip. So, the County paid lobbyist decided not to use this opportunity to raise any policy issues, according to the person he spent time with. He later claimed in a Commission meeting to do just that. I am confused. Really confused.
A couple of suggestions. If the County began following these, there might be less confusion in the future. And more accountability.
FIRST. REQUIRE a log of the meeting, participants and conversation topics for all employees to complete whenever they attend outside meetings or events in the field. Can be attached to the expense report to document the value received for the money spent. Can also be used to inform other departmental employees of any new information or processes. I am actually shocked the County Manager does not require this currently. It is a valuable tool and also helps prevent the abuse of travel funds. I believe the Commissioners should require this, effective immediately.
SECOND. Lobbyists for the County should be required to submit a regular report, posted on the County website, for all the bills in the current session, the contacts made to legislators, etc. Each taxpayer should be able to easily learn what work is being done for the County. Bills could be prioritized on the list, and once input, the updating would take no time at all. If the current lobbyist is incapable of providing this service, then applications could be taken to find a person who would be transparent and informative and willing to communicated their efforts to the people who are paying for it. Once again, I believe the Commissioners should require this, effective immediately.
My opinion and conclusion, especially after talking with Jordan, is that this trip was NOT work related. The biggest highlight, according to Bum’s report to the Commissioners, was meeting the above mentioned assistant. Yet, according to her, they never once brought up any policy related items in their discussions. I believe Storey County taxpayers should be fully reimbursed for the expenses of this trip. Commissioner Gilman, please resign and focus on TRI.