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Long Beach port, city hall, cut loose long-time D.C. lobbyist

Long Beach port, city hall, cut loose long-time D.C. lobbyist

Citing a need for larger firms with more experience in environmental issues, Long Beach City Hall and the Port of Long Beach have cut loose the lobbyist who has represented both in Washington, D.C. for nearly four decades.

   E. Del Smith, who will see his 38-year run with the port and 37-year tenure with the city come to a final end in December, also saw his six-year old contract with the local Gateway Cities Council of Governments fall by the wayside last month.

   Smith's contract with Long Beach City Hall ran out last month and the City Council — who in December hired another, larger lobbying firm — has yet to approve an extension that could keep Smith on the payroll with the city through the end of the year. Last month the Gateway Cities CoG, which includes representation by 27 Southern California cities including Long Beach, decided not to renew the contract with Smith's, Carpi Clay & Smith. Earlier this month, four members of the port's five-member governing board blocked a port staff recommendation to extend Smith's contract with the port, citing the need to explore lobbying firm alternatives. The port's board later approved a contract hiring another, much larger firm.

   Both City Hall and port officials cited the relatively small size of Smith's staff — four lobbyists — as a primary concern for seeking other representation. Port officials also said they wanted to seek a firm with more experience in dealing with environmental issues, a topic that has come to dominate all Southern California port planning in the last few years.

   Officials from the Gateway Cities CoG, who already had two firms representing them in the nation's capitol, cited the fiduciary need to reduce that to one firm.

   Smith told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that the cancellations were a loss for the three organizations. He said that while his firm was able to provide experienced knowledgeable lobbyists with years of experience in Long Beach issues, larger firms might relegate the contracts to less experienced junior staff members.

   “This is a small firm, but the firm has been very Long Beach-focused,” Smith told the Press-Telegram. “It will take each of them five years to get up to speed like we are now.”

   In making the decisions, none of the three groups cited any dissatisfaction with Smith's work. In all, Smith's contracts with the three amounted to $200,000 a year, according to data from political funding tracker opensecrets.org.

   Smith's firm still maintains a roster of more than 30 clients, including the cities of Anaheim, Barstow, Downey and Santa Barbara, according to opensecrets.org. Carpi, Clay & Smith also represent other non-governmental entities such as the California Marine and Navigation Conference, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Moffatt & Nichols Engineering.

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