Are the citizens of San Diego County getting enough love from Uncle Sam?
To make sure we do, dozens of leading business executives and local politicians are bound for the nation's capital on a mission next week.
That four-day undertaking in Washington, D.C. – to which then-mayor Bob Filner was dis-invited last month -- is sponsored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The delegation will meet with a number of influential lawmakers and federal agency officials, to make them aware of the vital needs of a community that's far-removed from "The Beltway" -- geographically speaking.
"What we need to remind the military -- although they know it, we're the largest installation for the Navy and Marine Corps in the world,” says Chamber president Jerry Sanders. “They probably have more sailors, more Marines, more ships, more concentration of research facilities for their armed forces than any place in the world."
In a Friday interview with NBC 7, Sanders said the chamber’s lobbying expeditions to D.C. – some of which he accompanied during his tenure as mayor – have generally been able to call in key chips from the feds.
"The hard work starts when you come back,” Sanders added, striking a cautionary note. “All the meetings are great, but that's where you leave 'asks' behind. We'll leave very specific 'asks' and fact sheets with all the officials we meet with. It's the follow-up that's important. And I think the relationships that have been built over a period of time have been invaluable."
The chamber's traveling party numbers 130 -- much larger than the 90 to 100 delegates who have gone in past years.
To help press the region's case, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria has arranged for the city to re-hire Patton Boggs, a high-profile Washington lobbying firm.
"I think when you look at issues like our border infrastructure, sequestration, extension of our Trolley up to the UTC area,” Gloria told journalists in a Thursday briefing “there are many, many needs that we need attended to in Washington. And with the help of our firm, we'll be able to get many of those things done."
Patton Boggs and San Diego's lobbyists in Sacramento – Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates -- were let go not long after Filner became mayor, prompting widespread complaints that San Diego was losing influence in the national and state legislative and administrative arenas.
Gloria has back brought the Washington firm for up to $135,000 thousand through next June 30th -- unless bids on a new contract are accepted before then.
Ditto Sloat Higgins for $125,000 under the same terms.