CITY OF COLUMBIA
CITY COUNCIL WORK SESSION MINUTES
October 6, 2004
9:00 AM - City Council Chambers
3rd Floor City Hall - 1737 Main Street
 

The City of Columbia City Council met for a Work Session on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina.  The Honorable Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m.  Council members present were The Honorable E. W. Cromartie, II, The Honorable Hamilton Osborne, Jr., The Honorable Sam Davis, The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine and The Honorable Daniel J. Rickenmann.  The Honorable Anne M. Sinclair was absent due to a business trip.  Also, present were Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager and Ms. Erika D. Moore, City Clerk.

PRESENTATIONS

A.  Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center – Mr. Steve Camp, Executive Director

Mr. Steve Camp, Executive Director, announced that the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is doing business and over 3,000 individuals have attended events at the Convention Center thus far.  He thanked the members of City Council for their leadership in developing the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.  Mr. Camp thanked Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations and Mr. Shawn Epps, Special Projects Administrator for a job well done.  He presented the members of City Council with a framed limited edition poster print of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center as a token of appreciation.  Mr. Camp stated that the Convention Center is for everyone and that a great effort will be made to blend local and regional activities.

B.  Next Energy Strategic Plan – The Honorable Mayor Robert D. Coble

Mayor Coble told the members of Council that the hydrogen energy issue is now referred to as Next Energy.  He said that a twenty-year strategic plan is needed for the region to become a hydrogen cluster.    Mayor Coble explained that Mr. Larry Wilson and Mr. Harris Pastides both have been asked to serve as co-chairs for this initiative. He said that Engenuity South Carolina and the City of Columbia’s Economic Development Department would provide staff support. He stated that an action plan would be available by December 1, 2004.  He said that the Council on Competitiveness recently established a hydrogen cluster and we want to become a part of that.

Mr. Neil McLean of Engenuity South Carolina stated that Next Energy is an umbrella term that describes energy sources that will replace fossil fuel and it’s projected to become a trillion dollar business over the next twenty years. He said that the City of Columbia is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in the Next Energy economy due to one of the nation’s top fuel cell research programs at the University of South Carolina and a natural energy lab noted for hydrogen expertise just 45 minutes west of Columbia.  Mr. McLean explained that Columbia Next Energy is a local working group of business, political, and higher education leaders working together to develop a regional plan that would capitalize on this economic development opportunity.  He stated the overall objectives as follows:  To assess our regional assets in Next Energy; to develop a twenty year vision for the region; and to develop an implementation plan for executing our vision.  He quoted Mr. Larry Wilson by stating that if we play our cards right, Columbia can become to Next Energy what Houston has been for oil for the last fifty years.  He reiterated that by December 1, 2004 they would have a strategic ready for review.

Mr. Harris Pastides, Next Energy Co-chair, stated that the Next Energy initiative is most unique because it looks at how to take hydrogen, one of the cheapest, lightest, and cleanest fuels and begin to reduce our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels.  He said that research questions are not easy, but they have to find out how to produce the hydrogen without burning fossil fuels or resorting to nuclear energy.  He explained that we must find out how to store hydrogen in tanks that are small enough to be practical for use in automobiles, homes and businesses; how to deliver hydrogen efficiently to the fuel cell; and then how to make the next generation of fuel cells. Mr. Pastides said that we have an industry/university partnership with over one dozen of the nations prominent energy companies to contribute to the University’s research program.  He said that by having Next Energy declared as a cluster would enable us to move forward and continue to recruit faculty and the industry that would make the University of South Carolina and the City of Columbia one of the most prominent energy research and technology locations in the world some day.

C.  Fast Forward Quarterly Report – Ms. Dee Albritton, Director

Ms. Dee Albritton, Director, distributed tokens of appreciation to the members of City Council.  She explained that the compact disc contained historic photos of the Old Shandon community in recognition of their centennial celebration.  She said that during the renovations of Hand Middle School, Fast Forward would fully operate from the Devine Street site.  She told the members of Council that the Service Corp of Retired Executives (S.C.O.R.E.) would be conducting small business seminars through Fast Forward.  Ms. Albritton agreed to contact Mr. Tony Lawton, Office of Business Opportunities and Ms. Dianne Sumter of DESA for a listing of Small Business Enterprises to participate in the S.C.O.R.E. seminars.

Upon motion by Mayor Coble, seconded by Mr. Cromartie, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 9:33 a.m. for the discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements related to lobbying services.

· City Council adjourned the Executive Session discussion at 10:15 a.m. to reconvene the Work Session.

D.  Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Mr. Dan E. Jones, President, Governmental Consultants, Inc.

Governmental Consultants, Inc. withdrew their response to the Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services.

E.  Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Mr. Michael R. Daniel, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd Governmental Law Team

Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd Governmental Law Team withdrew their response to the Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services.

 F.  **Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Mr. Larry Marchant, Palmetto Policy Group and Mr. Joe Grant, The Grant Group

Mr. Joe Grant, The Grant Group, introduced himself and Mr. Larry Marchant as the incumbent legislative team representing the City of Columbia before the South Carolina General Assembly.  He introduced Mr. Carlton Washington as his business partner.  Mr. Grant described The Grant Group as a minority owned business that was founded in 1994.  He said that he is proud of the fact that the City of Columbia was his first legislative client and he believes that he has represented the city effectively and aggressively.  He noted that they would like to continue this relationship.  He said that he was the first African American Lobbyist to work at the South Carolina General Assembly and he spent a lot of time developing relationships on both sides of the political aisle.
Mr. Larry Marchant, Palmetto Policy Group, said that he has enjoyed working with the City of Columbia for the past five (5) years.  He said that he got his start with Governor Campbell, but prior to that he was a Page at the State House in 1981.  He introduced his staff members to City Council.

Mr. Joe Grant outlined some of the accomplishments of the Palmetto Policy Group during their fifteen (15) years of combined service.  He said that the Palmetto Policy Group was instrumental in lobbying efforts for a $50 million tax credit for an air cargo hub, which resulted in UPS relocating to South Carolina and $5 million for the Convention Center was allocated without any renderings. Mr. Grant said that they also blocked a lot of bad legislation such as legislation to restrict the city’s ability to charge a different rate for water customers outside city limits and the legislation to place the city’s water services under DHEC.  He said that the Palmetto Policy Group was instrumental in implementing the current relationship between the Lexington Delegation and the City of Columbia and now that delegation is very supportive of the City.  He noted that Senator Jake Knotts was the lead on Gang Legislation and continues to support it.  Mr. Grant said that they implemented the idea of the legislative reception, which has become the premiere reception event during the legislative year.  He also credited the current local governmental relationships to the Palmetto Policy Group.  He said that now other local municipalities are familiar with and supportive of the city’s legislative goals.

Councilwoman Devine asked how they would go about getting to know the new members that are coming on this year and how do they plan to obtain bipartisan support for legislation that impacts the City of Columbia?

Mr. Larry Marchant stated that with the Palmetto Policy Group and The Grant Group combined, they could touch just about everybody in the Legislature due to their current relationships with various committee members.  He stated that they have to convince some of their conservative friends that local government is important and it does work.  He said that they have been out meeting new members at various functions and he requested that Council members be available to make phone calls and to attend dinner meetings with new Legislature members.

Mr. Joe Grant said that he goes to the State House to introduce himself to new members and to let them know that he represents the City of Columbia.  He said that he also uses incumbents to get to know new members.

Councilman Cromartie requested a monthly written report that outlines the efforts of the lobbyist and any pending legislation while the General Assembly is in session.  He also requested a report of any issues that the City of Columbia should be aware of prior to the start of the General Assembly session.  He suggested that the lobbyists meet with City Council on a more consistent basis.

Mr. Joe Grant agreed to meet with City Council on a more consistent basis as they did in the past.  He recommended that these meetings be scheduled for a standing time and date.  He provided a status update on the Gang Legislation.

Mr. Larry Marchant distributed a daily legislative report to the members of City Council.  He stated that these reports are prepared by his staff daily and then sent to the City of Columbia through Ms. Shirley Gossett, Legislative Liaison.

Councilman Cromartie requested that the reports be sent directly to the members of City Council.

Mr. Larry Marchant informed the members of City Council of a new bill that would move State agencies from downtown Columbia to a super campus outside city limits.  He said that would be disastrous for citizens who rely upon these services and for the City of Columbia.

Councilman Davis asked the Lobbyists what they considered to be the top four (4)  pieces of pending legislation?

Mr. Larry Marchant said that the Gang Bill is an issue that needs to be advanced; the move to prohibit the city from charging non-city residents more for water services; state government moving from downtown Columbia; and funding issues.

 G.  **Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Ms. Wendy Holmquist, Capitol Information Affiliates

Ms. Wendy Arndt Holmquist, Partner in Capitol Information Affiliates introduced Ms. Julie Cox as her partner and Ms. Candice Spenser, Esquire as an employee.  She described how this Female Business Enterprise would successfully address the governmental affairs needs of the City of Columbia.  She reminded the members of Council that their firm has served as Monitors in the past for the City of Columbia.  She said that they were taught to serve all people and to deal with everybody in the same manner.  She stated that they do provide detailed daily reports and weekly recaps for all clients and the same report can be delivered to the City of Columbia.  She said that it’s important to take clients to the State House.  Ms. Holmquist said that it’s important to have a representative at each Council meeting and any other necessary meetings.  She said that they don’t have any current conflict of interests and they will notify the City of Columbia of all potential clients.  She noted that they have a great working relationship with Ms. Shirley Gossett, Legislative Liaison.  She said that they have been monitoring since 1990.  She said that after Election Day they hit the road and visit newly elected members and tell them whom they represent.

Councilwoman Devine asked if the Capitol Information Affiliates would help to organize the legislative receptions?

Ms. Wendy Arndt Holmquist stated that they would not have a problem with assisting Ms. Gossett with organizing these events.  She said that they have an employee that is a graduate in Public Relations and is almost finished getting her Masters in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management from the University of South Carolina.  She said that this employee has helped other clients with planning dinners for delegations, specific committee meetings and large receptions.

Councilman Cromartie inquired about their relationship with Outdoor Advertising.

Ms. Wendy Arndt Holmquist told Mr. Cromartie that they represented Outdoor Advertising for one year working for Mr. Richard Davis and after that year they did not renew the contract.  She said that they use to represent the Department of Mental Health.  She said that they currently represent the SC Beer Wholesalers Association, Community Residential Care, Inc., and the Nurse Practitioners.

Councilman Davis asked Ms. Holmquist to outline the four (4) major issues in legislation?

Ms. Wendy Arndt Holmquist said that it could all be lumped into the Appropriations Bill, because it’s a very dangerous animal for any governmental body.  She said that it includes aid to local governments, taxation issues, economic incentive issues, etc.  She said that the Gang Legislation and the relocation of State agencies are also key issues.

H.  Response to Request for Qualifications for Lobbying Services – Mr. John C. West, Jr., State Capitol Group, LLC

Mr. Ron Fulmer, State Capitol Group, LLC, said that they have represented the City of Columbia for the past four years as part of the SC Cities Coalition.  He said that five years ago Mayor Coble asked them to represent SC United, an organization whose primary job was to remove the Confederate Flag from the State House.  He introduced Mr. Ronnie Fulmer, Jr., as the State House Monitor, Mr. John West and Mrs. Mia Butler as staff members.  He said that a weekly update is sent to the City of Columbia.  He said that he knows the importance of sitting down with legislatures and talking with them one-on-one.  He said that the Billboard Legislation is an important issue and it will be back.

Ms. Mia Butler, said that she is following the gang legislation because criminal gang activity is a concern when raising a five year old and a ten year old.

Councilwoman Devine asked how the State Capitol Group would develop relationships with new elected officials?

Mr. Ron Fulmer said that Ms. Mia Butler has met with the African American Caucus and that he has made calls to many committee chairs.  He said that in July they normally travel to meet the officials in their home districts and to make sure that they are aware of our concerns.  He said that capital projects and sales tax are big issues this year.  We work closely with the Municipal Association.

Mr. John West explained that the Photo Cop Legislation and new rules relating to Senators killing pending legislation are also a major issue to watch.  He said that those new rules would require lobbyist to work harder.  He said that they would like to do a local pre-trial intervention program, but it is facing some opposition.

Upon motion by Mr. Cromartie, seconded by Ms. Devine, Council voted unanimously to go into Executive Session at 11:20 a.m. for the discussion of Items I. and J. as amended and to add a briefing from the Regional Transit Authority at 12:30 p.m.

· City Council assembled for the Executive Session discussion at 11:25 a.m.

EXECUTIVE SESSION DISCUSSION

I. Employment of an Employee
- City Manager Contract Extension
  This item was discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.

J. Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements
- Wilbur Smith and Associates Engineering Contract, Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney
 This item was discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.

- Convention Center Hotel – Mr. Steve Gantt, Senior Assistant City Manager for Operations and Mr. Joel Gottlieb, Attorney for Gottlieb and Smith, PA
 This item was discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.

- General Services Administration use of Park Street – Mr. Jim Meggs, City Attorney
 This item was deferred.

- **Lobbying Services
 This item was discussed in Executive Session no action was taken.

- **Regional Transit Authority Headquarters Relocation
This item was deferred.

· City Council adjourned the meeting at 1:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by:
Erika D. Moore
City Clerk