SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 10, 2008

'He was worth every penny' 'Sand-a Claus' lobbyist earns praise from beach towns

Washington lobbyist Howard Marlowe's clients seem to feel that his fees are money well spent.

A Daily News survey of administrators in five of the 34 cities and towns that retain the services of Marlowe & Co. showed unanimous satisfaction with the results obtained by the lobbying firm in various projects — including beach replenishment. (Marlowe also lists 18 other clients, either counties or nonprofit entities.)

"He was worth every penny," said former Venice, Fla., City Manager George Hunt, who worked with Marlowe for 12 years, beginning in the early 1990s.

"I can't speak enough about the good things Howard did for Venice," said Hunt, who is now human resources director in Palm Bay, Fla. "His contract was meager and the return on investment was considerable."

A group of Plum Island homeowners had asked Newbury and Newburyport to put up a total of $36,000 — $18,000 each — toward Marlowe's $40,000 annual fee to hire the company for assistance in getting federal money to replenish the beach and repair the jetty at the northern tip of the island. The homeowners had raised another $4,000 privately.

Local officials have decided that they would rather count on the region's congressional delegation to get the beach fixed than pay tax money to a lobbyist.

The Newbury Board of Selectmen withdrew a request that the Finance Committee put up $10,000 from the Reserve Fund to pay for Marlowe's services in the current fiscal year. The Finance Committee postponed action on the original request on Feb. 19, after a member of the homeowners' group said it was launching a private fundraising campaign and might not need the funds.

Newburyport Mayor John Moak declined to bring a request for a financial transfer to the City Council to pay the share requested from the city. Several councilors were opposed to spending money on a lobbyist.

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