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Note: Serge Dedina hosted the Café San Diego on Wednesday.

Saturday, June 2, 2007 | As a close to lifelong resident of Imperial Beach, I found it fascinating to read the following sentence about my hometown in the U-T:

The city’s lobbyist in Washington, Greg Burns of Marlowe & Co., said: “This is not La Jolla. This is one of a few remaining working-class communities in California directly on the coast. It’s a community on the rise, but this is not a city of second and third homes for rich people.

Because Imperial Beach is looking at a looming budget crisis, the term “city’s lobbyist” seems to be one that should be anathema to a cash-starved blue-collar city. In fact no one I’ve talked to over the past week or so in I.B. can ever remember the city contracting with a lobbyist for anything.

But since Imperial Beach has strapped itself to the back of Marlowe & Company and its promise to revitalize the city with $56 million in sand dredged from a former aviation gunnery range that is located next to a U.S.-Mexico border sewage outfall pipe, I thought a little research on the company was in order:

Howard Marlowe is President of Marlowe & Company, LCC, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm established in 1984. He has over 30 years of experience as a lobbyist working with Congress and the executive branch … Marlowe served two terms as president of the American League of Lobbyists.

So at least Howard is good at … lobbying. That explains how he was able to convince I.B. mayor Jim Janney and the City Council that $56 million in free dredge spoils was theirs for the taking. Isn’t it great how lobbyists are good at convincing people to give them and their clients’ money? In this case however, no money will flow to Imperial Beach. All of it will end up in the pockets of the Army Corps of Engineers. Marlowe on the other hand has received a total of $184,000 since 2001 from Imperial Beach, an average of over $30,000 annually.

It also isn’t clear to me how either how Greg Burns of Marlowe was anointed the current spokesperson for Imperial Beach. Burns does not appear to have any academic or professional training for his role as chief architect of the Imperial Beach coastal zone management program. According to the Marlow & Company website:

Mr. Burns graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and English where he focused on campaign finance reform, and 20th Century literature.

It is unfortunate that Greg did not concentrate on 19th century American literature at UVA. Because he most likely would have been exposed to such great American writers such as Henry David Thoreau who once wrote, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Serge Dedina is the cofounder and executive director of Wildcoast, an international conservation team located in Imperial Beach. Agree? Disagree? Send a letter to the editor.

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