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June 2, 2023

County lobbyist paid $120k a year returns $0 in 10 months

In the 10 months since San Benito County hired lobbyist Kim Stone for $10,000 a month, her firm has produced nothing in return.
The hired lobbyist gave an update presentation to the county board at Tuesday’s regular meeting and acknowledged her firm Stone Advocacy has not returned a single dollar to the county since her hiring.
Supervisors last December approved hiring Stone for $120,000 per year in hopes she could return funds to the county from other sources such as the state government.
That has not been the case to this point, and Stone acknowledged in the presentation that her firm the past 10 months has made just one attempt to obtain funds — for local homeless services — and that the request failed.
Supervisor Mark Medina in the meeting asked Stone to clarify that she had returned nothing to the county in 10 months.
“I had to ask her, what have you done for the county?” Medina said Wednesday about the presentation.
Medina was on the short end of a 3-2 vote at the Dec. 12, 2017 meeting to start negotiations with Stone Advocacy. He and Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz were against the hiring, while supporters were Supervisors Anthony Botelho, Jerry Muenzer and Robert Rivas — who motioned for her hiring last December.
The board ultimately chose Stone, the sole practitioner at her firm, over two other applicants: Dimare, Brown, Hicks & Kessler; and Hurst Brooks Espinosa. The county received a total of seven interested firms last year after putting an ad in a Sacramento publication soliciting for lobbyist help.
Stone at Tuesday’s meeting defended her lack of return to the county by noting the firm needs to have specific projects for which to advocate.
“We need a very specific ready-to-go project, which we did have with the homeless land and services,” she said.
Otherwise, Stone in her update mostly talked about the broader political landscape, speculating how there may be fewer vetoes under a Gavin Newsom governorship than with Gov. Jerry Brown, and how that could negatively impact San Benito County on such legislation as a proposal to require sheriff’s offices and coroner’s offices to function separately.
Stone also quipped about Rivas possibly being the next 30th District State Assembly member representing the area, noting how she’s hopeful that would help San Benito County’s efforts in Sacramento.
She rounded out her presentation by telling supervisors if they want her to come back after the election and provide another update, she would do that.
“We need to get our budget asks (requests) in early and they need to be really specific,” she said.
When stone mentioned the idea of San Benito County partnering with neighboring counties when seeking outside funds, Rivas agreed with that concept.
“Great point,” Rivas said. “The best way to facilitate that would be through our staffs?”
Stone finished her presentation by trying to lighten the mood with a set of haikus that explain the state measures on this November’s ballot.
“I just thought they were very clever,” she said.