Written July 22, 2010     

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© 2016 Bob Lonsberry


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Bruce Fennie lives on Country Club Drive.

Literally and metaphorically.

Thanks to the generosity of Republican-controlled agencies around Rochester, New York, Bruce Fennie is living the high life.

He’s a lobbyist.

But he doesn’t live in Washington, and he doesn’t have a lot of clients, and it’s hard to see that he has much success.

But he’s a lobbyist.

He’s Maggie Brooks’ pet lobbyist, and he’s doing alright.

Let’s go down the list.

In the spring of this year, here were Bruce Fennie’s lobbying clients, and the amount of money they paid him: County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency $234,000; Monroe Community College $160,000; Monroe County Airport Authority $80,000; Monroe County Department of Transportation $80,000; Monroe County Water Authority $260,000.

That’s a total of $894,000 – an increase of $394,000 from pretty much those same agencies the year before.

Did you notice anything about the clients?

Was there one word common to the name of each of them?

Do you think that is a coincidence?

Monroe, of course, is the county overseen by County Executive Maggie Brooks and her Republican majority in the County Legislature. She and it pick the boards and executives of the various agencies stuffing money into Bruce Fennie’s pockets.

Asked about it by the local newspaper this week, Maggie Brooks’ spokesman said, “It’s fair to say she is not going to speak to you on this issue.”

Of course not. How could this be any of the public’s business? Maggie knows nothing about any of this and it’s rude and sexist to even ask.

Damn liberal media.

Never mind the fact that Maggie Brooks and Bruce Fennie travelled together to Washington in March where, among other things, they were not able to meet with the only member of Congress who lives in Monroe County.

So that was pretty effective.

Speaking of effective, though lobbyists are pretty good at smoke and mirrors when it comes to discussing how much they accomplish for their clients, there is one measure of Bruce Fennie’s abilities as a rainmaker.

One of his bread-and-butter clients, Monroe Community College, paid him $160,000 last year. From various government sources, the college got back some $600,000 in non-regular payments, grants or contracts.

So, you could say that the college paid $160,000 to get $600,000, which might look like a good deal.

Unless you look at other colleges that have a lobbyist.

When you do the math, Bruce Fennie got MCC $3.75 for each $1 it paid him. By contrast, Nazareth College got $17.50 for each dollar it paid its lobbyist.

That’s an almost 500-percent greater rate of return.

Of course, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, each dollar in lobbying brought back $131.07 in return.

And at the University of Rochester, each dollar spent on lobbying produced $679.48 in money for the school.

So the lobbyist for the U of R did a 181-times better job than the lobbyist for MCC.

Who is Bruce Fennie.

Who is a lobbyist the same way I’m a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Side note: MCC got a new president from out of state. She looked at the arrangement with Bruce Fennie, noticed that hers was the only one of New York’s 42 community colleges with a lobbyist, and fired him.

That means he lost those $160,000 a year.

But not to worry, at just about the same time, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency signed on at $234,000 a year.

So poor Bruce was saved.

With more of the people’s money.

It’s hard to find anything on the record that Bruce Fennie lobbies for. One notation showed that on behalf of three Monroe County organizations he lobbied a bill having to do with suspending the duty on Alar, a supposedly cancer-causing farm chemical.

What the f-word?

Beyond that, it’s a nebulous response from the county that basically boils down to “stuff.” Bruce Fennie lobbies for stuff.

And it keeps him on Country Club Drive.

He has no other listed clients, he has no particular area of expertise, he just gets big checks from things controlled by Maggie Brooks and the Monroe County Republican Party.

Though he lobbies for Monroe County’s airport, he lobbies for no other airport, not even other regional airports that might share interests with Rochester’s. He lobbies for Monroe County’s water authority, but not for any other municipal water system, even the ones that do business with Monroe County’s.

He is a generalist, taking on all Republican-controlled government clients from Monroe County, and no clients from anywhere else.

Which smells.

It makes you wonder what the behind-the-scenes connection is. In a county where powerful Republicans’ spouses all get great government jobs, and where cronyism staffs most Republican departments, it makes you wonder who is buttering Bruce Fennie’s bread and why.

This much is certain: “She is not going to speak to you on this issue” doesn’t cut it.

And for those who are curious, it’s on the Oak Hill side of Country Club Drive – not the Irondequoit Country Club side.


- by Bob Lonsberry © 2010

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