Good news and bad news about lobbying from New York City's new
mayor. The good news, according to a
recent article on the Capital New York website
, is that the
mayor has said that his administration will disclose "substantive"
meetings that members of his administration conduct with lobbyists.
This is, he says, a practice he followed when he was the city's
public advocate (a sort of ombuds), before he was elected mayor.
Disclosure of such meetings by officials is an excellent check on disclosure by lobbyists, and provides an official-by-official view of the
lobbying that is done. This could be
required by ordinance or regulation, but when it is not, it is good
to see high-level officials setting up a procedure in the meantime.
However, voluntary disclosure is not a replacement for making
disclosure part of the lobbying or conflicts of interest program,
because a voluntary procedure usually lacks detailed definitions and
requirements, training, neutral advice, and independent enforcement.
It is a valuable gesture, and can provide useful information, but it
works best for a mayor – as opposed to an independent office like an
ombuds — as a step toward the goal of institutionalizing the