A word about lobbyists, in case you were wondering

Lobbyists, as you may be aware, have been in the news locally of late. We won’t mention names or details here, but the topic was of enough interest for the Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay to host an open discussion on it September 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church, 20740 Old Cutler Road.

Most, if not all, of the cities in this area have as part of their regulations fairly strict guidelines for outside lobbyists, who must register with the city and identify themselves and who they are working for before contacting public officials or speaking at public council meetings, pro or con, on a given subject. Ironically, virtually all of these same cities also hire lobbyists of their own to represent them when seeking special favors, regulationwise, or grants or direct funding from state or federal government officials.

This has already had an impact on some area parks and in gaining support for loosening the grip of county controls over municipalities. There have probably been lobbyists of one form or another as far back as the early days of this country, but never have they been more a major factor in the process of government, from the national level on down, or a more established and high-priced profession than they are these days. In the view of the courts they are protected by the “right to petition” aspects of freedom of speech in the constitution.

Where it gets dicey is in the fact that large groups with lots of funding (such as corporations) are their usual clients, while average citizens generally have no one in their corner to support their goals — except of course their elected representatives — who happen to be the same folks the lobbyists are leaning on to help out their clients. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years, especially regarding former public officials and similar insiders who leave the public sector and take jobs as paid lobbyists.

Gables High Alums — Boomer alert! Sure, you live elsewhere now, but did you go to Coral Gables Senior High School? The Class of 1964 is hosting their 50th Year Class Reunion the week-end of May 2nd and 3rd of 2014, and they need to know who’s planning to attend. If you did go to Gables back then and you haven’t heard from them yet, then you are likely “among the missing” on their contact list, so for info please contact Tamar Spector Brooks by email at <GablesReunionTamar@att.net> or visit their Facebook page at <www.facebook. com/groups/512568435465758/> as soon as possible.

A different drummer? We hear from the South Florida Friends of Classical Music that they are hosting “An Evening of Indian Classical Music” on Sunday, September 22 at 6:00 p.m. at Florida International University’s Wertheim Concert Hall, located at 11200 SW 8th Street in Miami. The featured artists are Jeff Deen and Vicki Richards. Jeffrey Deen is an accomplished percussionist, performer and educator who studied “tabla” (North Indian drums) under Pandit Sharda Sahai. As the founder of Drumming for Wellness, Jeff leads workshops on using drums, vibration and rhythm as tools for meditation and healing. Vicki Richards originally trained as an orchestral violinist, but traveled to Varanasi, India to study the art of improvisation through North Indian classical music. She is regarded as one of the few westerners with deep knowledge of the traditions of Indian raga. Admission is $25 to $35 and tickets are available online at www.MiamiWorldMusicFestival.com or you can call 786-581-7746

Thought of the Day: At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.

— Christopher Reeve

Gary Alan Ruse contributed to this column.

Got any tips? Contact me at 305-669- 7355, ext. 249, or send emails to Michael@communitynewspapers.com

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at michael@communitynewspapers.com

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