Bloomington turns down hiring Washington lobbyist as debate includes verbal dig at Normal

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Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 9:32 PM CST
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BLOOMINGTON (25 News Now) - The Bloomington City Council shot down a proposal Monday night to hire a Washington lobbying firm that city staffers believe would have brought home more federal dollars from the new Congress.

The council voted 5-4 against paying Thorn Run Partners $270,000 over three years. The debate that led to the vote included an alderman taking a verbal jab at neighboring Normal.

Ward 1 Council member Grant Walch took exception to the idea that neighboring Normal has hired lobbyists, so Bloomington should do the same.

“We’re not Normal. We are Bloomington, and we also aren’t saddled with the debt that our friends in Normal have,” said Walch.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Sheila Montney removed the item from the usually routine consent agenda, saying it’s contrary to the city’s priorities of improving infrastructure and lowering taxes.

Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said the lobbying firm would help secure funding for infrastructure and other priorities, plus perform tasks that local staff can’t do.

“There are thousands of pieces of legislation that are filed regularly, and those aren’t things that we have the expertise to be able to track,” Tyus said.

Tyus was not able to persuade a majority for the expenditure. Walsh, Montney, Nick Becker from Ward 5, De Urban from Ward 6, Tom Crumpler from Ward 9 all voted no.