The proposed Yonkers lobbyist law

1

Some readers have expressed interest in seeing the proposed legislation to require lobbyists to register with the Yonkers City Clerk before lobbying a Yonkers city official, so I’ve attached it in the jump.

Yesterday Councilman John Murtagh, R-5th District, issued a call to adopt the legislation before it dies in committee. He introduced it in October.

Murtagh issued his press release yesterday in the wake of a federal indictment of former Democratic Councilwoman Sandy Annabi, former Yonkers Republican committee chair Zehy Jereis and attorney Anthony Mangone for public corruption.

Lobbyists are already required to register with the state, but a local registry will make it easier for Yonkers residents to learn who is lobbying their elected officials, Murtagh said this morning.

“If you read the indictment it says Forest City Ratner hired Zehy and he lobbied me,” Murtagh said. “I knew there was some relationship, but I didn’t know he was a $60,000 a year paid consultant.”

Here is the full text of the proposed legislation.

A RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE ETHICS CODE OF THE CITY OF YONKERS TO INCLUDE A NEW SECTION WITH REGARD TO THE REGISTRATION OF LOBBYISTS AND REGULATION OF LOBBYING ACTIVITIES

By Councilmembers Murtagh and Gronowski

Purpose

To encourage openness and transparency in the adoption or policy and legislation by the city of Yonkers.

Definitions

For purposes of the registration provisions of this Section, lobbying is defined as the attempt to influence the governmental decision making of an officer or employee of the City of Yonkers,  including but not limited to the City Council of the City of Yonkers, any Board of the City of Yonkers whether compensated or volunteer, or of an agency, local development corporation or public benefit corporation of the City (collectively the “City Entities”) or the attempt to encourage the passage, defeat, or modification of any legislation, proposal or recommendation of any City Entity. Lobbying shall not include the following:

(1)   Legal or settlement discussions directed toward an attorney for a City Entity; or

(2)   Participation in a quasi-judicial proceeding involving a City Entity (except that all ex-parte communication to a decision maker or non-lawyer City Entity employee constitutes lobbying).

Registration

Each person who lobbies, for compensation as a lobbyist, any officer or employee of a City Entity, shall, prior to commencement of lobbying activities on any issue, register his or her name, the person or entity for which the lobbying is taking place (principal), and the purpose and issue for which the lobbying is taking place, with the City Clerk. Registration may be for an annual period or for a lesser, stated period, but no person may lobby unless he or she is first registered. A person may register as a lobbyist on his or her own volition or he or she may be required by any officer or employee to register before he or she addresses such officer or employee if he or she is not already registered with the City Clerk. The City Clerk shall maintain a book in which the registration statements and oaths submitted by lobbyists shall be entered, together with corrections and amendments as herein authorized and required. If a person shall cease to be a lobbyist, his or her registration statement and oath shall be removed from the book of active lobbyists and shall be placed in a book of inactive or former lobbyists; but no person may have a registration statement and oath on file in both books.

Registration Statement

(1) When a person registers as a lobbyist, he or she shall file a registration statement and oath in the form developed from time to time by the Office of Corporation counsel, in consultation with the City Ethics Board and the City Clerk. The City Clerk, in consultation with the Office of Corporation Counsel, is authorized to reject or strike non-conforming registrations. No person may commence or continue lobbying activity related to a rejected or stricken registration statement until such time as a corrected registration statement is submitted and accepted by the City Clerk.

(2)  A registration statement may be corrected or amended at any time by the registrant by the submission of a subsequent registration statement and oath setting forth the correcting or additional information that the registrant wishes to place on file. A statement that the subsequent registration statement corrects or amends the previous registration statement shall be inserted in the body of the statement, above the lobbyist’s signature, noting the substance of the correction or amendment. A registration statement shall be corrected or amended if any material fact concerning the purpose for which or persons on whose behalf the registrant filed the registration statement changes.

(3)   A registration statement and oath that is not renewed by the end of the period for which it is filed shall expire and may not thereafter be relied upon by the lobbyist in support of lobbying activities.

Exemptions

The following persons shall not be required to register as lobbyists:

(1)   A public official, employee or agent of a City Entity acting in his or her official capacity or in connection with his or her job responsibilities or as authorized or permitted to lobby pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement;

(2)   A person who only addresses the City Council or another City Entity during the “public comment” portion of its meeting agenda;

(3)   A person who appears at the specific request of or under compulsion of the City Council or a City Council committee; or of the board or committee of the board of any other City Entity;

(4)   Expert witnesses and other persons who give factual testimony about a particular matter or measure, but do not advocate passage or defeat of the matter or measure or any amendment thereto;

(5)   A person, not exempt under paragraphs (1) through (4) and otherwise meeting the definition of a lobbyist who receives no compensation as a lobbyist;

(6)   A Principal or an officer or employee of a principal who performs lobbying activities as part of his or her assigned duties.

Non-compliance

The City of Yonkers Board of Ethics is, hereby, empowered, either on its own initiative or based upon a complaint filed with it, to investigate and take evidence as to any allegations of non-compliance with the provisions of this Section and to impose appropriate penalties including barring the individuals and firms found guilty of non-compliance from lobbying activities before City Entities for up to one year or by imposing a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

Share.

About Author

1 Comment

  1. the consultant on

    the proposal doesn’t go far enough…if a developer for
    example pays anything to an elected or appointed official
    in exchange for support for a project in violation of
    the provisions which would preclude that kind of activity
    the project should be declared abrogated no matter what
    stage it might be in…ie assuming a project were approved
    and it later became evident that there was a bribe payment
    the city could either stop the project in its tracks or
    not issue a CO which would effectively abolish the project