BoC to vote on stadium contractor
by Jon Gillooly
May 24, 2014 04:00 AM | 3452 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday is scheduled to hire the general contractor who will build the $672 million Braves stadium, approve hundreds of pages of contract language with the Braves concerning the partnership and hire a lobbying firm.

Holland and Knight, whose contract expired in December 2011, was the last lobbyist employed by the county.

Then-county Chairman Sam Olens hired the firm to lobby for the county at the federal level.

The county paid the firm $120,000 per year, said county spokesman Robert Quigley.

Opportunities for Cobb to obtain federal earmarks were much easier when Olens was chairman, said county Chairman Tim Lee.

“When I got into office, I did not renew that contract because the landscape in Washington was changing so dramatically, and so I set off for the next two years to analyze what and how the resource should be, so we spent in earnest the last year pulling together what we thought would be the best for the county in terms of legislative impact, and so we decided that having a firm that can handle the state and also manage the feds and their new way of doing business,” Lee said.

Now that earmarks are scarce, the way t

o secure federal dollars is by working through the various federal departments, Lee said.

The county issued a request for proposals for a lobbyist and received five responses.

Those responses were ranked with Garrett McNatt Hennessey & Carpenter 360 coming in first, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP second, Holland & Knight third, Bryan Cave fourth, and a joint partnership of Aronnax Public Strategies, LLC and the Vaquer Firm, LLC fifth.

Garrett McNatt Hennessey & Carpenter 360 is led by Marietta attorney Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. (Full disclosure: Garrett’s wife, Lee Garrett, is general manager of the MDJ.)

At the state level, Lee said his goal is for the firm to lobby on behalf of the county’s interest in the Georgia General Assembly.

“It’s to develop relationships not only with the legislators of the Cobb delegation, but with the leadership of the committees that would be entertaining legislation that would either be for or against our interests,” Lee said. “Very often what lobbyists do best is to stop a bill or to change a bill before it becomes law as opposed to introduce legislation, and often the committees in which those get amended or changed or stopped are led by people who are not part of the Cobb delegation, so it’s a matter of understanding what legislation is getting introduced, how it may or may not affect Cobb, what committee it’s gone through, who the leadership is involved with that and having relationships with those people so we can influence legislation before it gets down the train tracks,” Lee said.

If approved, Garrett’s firm would be paid $168,000 annually.

But don’t count on Commissioner Bob Ott as an immediate yes vote. Ott says he’s still reviewing the contract.

“My biggest issue is going to be determining whether or not we need a lobbyist in the first place,” Ott said Friday.

General contractor to be selected

As reported by the MDJ last week, American Builders 2017 has been selected as the “construction manager at risk” to build the Braves stadium, a position similar to general contractor.

A committee composed of county and Braves staff selected American Builders, a joint venture between Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, which built the Georgia Aquarium; Minneapolis, Minn.-based M.A. Mortenson Company, which is building a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings; Southfield, Mich.-based Barton Malow Company, which oversaw the Rose Bowl Stadium renovation; and Atlanta-based New South Construction Company, which built Whitefield Academy’s academic and athletic facilities, as well as Cobb County’s work release building, a minimum security facility for inmates.

A maximum fee for building the stadium will be voted on by commissioners after American Builders has a chance to obtain pricing from subcontractors.

“They’ll have to come back once the design for the stadium is done and come up with a maximum price for actually building it,” Lee said.

Commissioners are also set to vote on contract language that spells out the details of a framework agreement the county approved with the franchise last November.

The contracts range from a non-relocation agreement to development and construction agreements.

Ott, who represents the area where the stadium is to be built, said he spent four to five days reading hundreds of pages of contract language.

“I made a list of questions and comments and plan on speaking with the county attorney and some other county staff over the weekend as I go through the responses to my questions,” Ott said. “My primary focus in going through it is to make sure the county from a financial aspect was protected.”

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Holland & Knight
May 29, 2014
From 2005 to 2011, Holland & Knight LLP provided federal lobbying services to Cobb County which resulted in many legislative and policy successes – including at least $38 million in federal funding to support the county’s needs. Specific projects during that time include:

» Securing more than $32.8 million in federal funding from a transportation reauthorization bill for the county. The funding was for transportation projects that included I-285 ($18 million) and I-75 ($6.6 million). Not limiting our successes to major interstates, we obtained funds for local roads such as Cedarcrest Road ($4.02 million) and Queens Mill Road ($2.5 million) for the county as well.

» Securing $244,880 in FTA - Recovery Act Awards for Cobb County Community Transit for additional funds for a paratransit facility and surveillance cameras.

» Obtaining a $499,999 grant for the Cobb County Board of Health to develop a county-wide plan to improve its environmental and policy-based prevention efforts aimed at reducing chronic disease. The grant came from the Community Transformation Grant Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to road and interstate projects, Holland & Knight worked to include funding for the county’s trail system ($900,000) as well as a SmartCard program ($836,000). In the fiscal year 2010 process, Cobb County has been allocated more than $2 million for various projects including a health center, road construction and a law enforcement interoperability communications network.

Whether it is a policy change at a federal agency or funding for local infrastructure, Holland & Knight has consistently put our clients’ success above all else. In fact, Washington insiders recognize Holland & Knight for its substantial experience in both the policy and appropriations arenas -- especially in the post-earmark environment. Such experience has delivered great results for clients: From 2010 to the present, Holland & Knight has secured nearly $2.25 billion in grants and programmatic funding for them. Additionally, our success has earned recognitions in Best Lawyers in America who selected 26 Holland & Knight Government lawyers for inclusion in the 2014 guide, while 18 Government lawyers were listed in the 2014 Chambers USA guide (May 2014). Several of our professionals have continuously been named The Hill as Washington, D.C.'s Top Lobbyists including former Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Minn., Richard Gold and Kathryn Lehman, while the firm has been named among the top 10 lobbying firms for several years by Roll Call.

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