There appears to be an arrangement between the Manatee County school district and the Chamber of Commerce regarding lobbying efforts.
The Chamber of Commerce has an agreement with John Ray Consulting, LLC (a lobbyist in Tallahassee) to “obtain the assistance in providing state government relations services and economic development strategies in support of the Technical Center Equity Funding Project.”
The chamber has an agreement with the school district to pay for these services. The contract is for a six-month period and has a fee of $36,000. This contract is being renewed for another six-month period.
This item was never presented to the school board as it is under the $50,000 minimum set for inclusion in their agenda.
When the information came out that there is another contract within a one-year period, this would make the item $70,000, which should have been put on the agenda.
How these payments were discovered was by looking at the check register and questioning $5,000 payment made to the chamber and many emails and phone calls.
The school district said that this money is being spent on getting more funding for MTI, but if so, why hide it in the chamber records?
The reason given for putting this money with the chamber is that they were hoping that other schools would contribute to this fund for lobbying.
But since no other school district participated, why are they renewing this contract for another year?
We elect representatives to “represent” our interests in Tallahassee; why do we need to spend more money on representatives? Also, why couldn’t this be handled by our lobbyist that we pay every year?
Let’s put this money back into the classroom.