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Death to Earmarks? Another week, another proposal for earmark reform. Only this one came from a guy with a big bully pulpit: President George W. Bush used his final State of the Union address to call for cutting earmarks in half next year, and he warned that his administration will ignore earmarks included in conference reports rather than legislation. So is this the end of the earmark? Not so fast. Greg Gill, a lobbyist for Cassidy & Associates, says the firm’s clients are asking what the president’s remarks will mean for their projects. The changes could create more competition for scarcer earmarks, he says, but he’s “confident that most, if not all [Cassidy projects] will be competitive.” It’s also unlikely that congressional Democrats will let Bush dictate spending — especially if it cuts into bounty for their districts — without a fight. “The president could have said something about this for a long time,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s in the eighth year of his presidency and he’s so bankrupt of ideas that this is all he can talk about?” Some watchdogs say the president’s actions might be too late to be effective. Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said the president’s lame-duck status makes it unlikely that his veto threats will matter. “Congress can just run out the clock on him,” Alexander said in a statement. “More importantly, by not including the 2008 spending bills, the executive order gives Congress months to finagle their way around these changes.” For a few years now, increased scrutiny of the congressionally inserted spending measures — frequently targeted as unnecessary pork by critics — has cut into the appropriations business, and the number of earmarks was already down this year. Still, if Bush’s proposal catches on, it could make appropriations lobbying even less lucrative. — Carrie Levine
Slow Ride For an airline that operates more than 600 flights a day, JetBlue Airways took its time getting a full-time government affairs director to Washington. For years, the government affairs operations of the Forest Hills, N.Y.-based company have been handled by Robert Land, who also serves as general counsel. But as of this week, the company now has a D.C. office of one: It’s hired Jeffrey Goodell, a former lobbyist for Sabre Holdings (owner of Travelocity), the Chicago Airport Authority, and Airports Council International. “I guess [Land] reached a point where he felt he could use another competent set of hands,” Goodell says. Before his hire, JetBlue had no registered lobbying agent in Washington, in-house or otherwise. That’s a marked difference between the airline and its competitors, who earned their chops in the days of the industry’s heavy regulation. (American Airlines and Northwest Airlines, for example, each pour several million dollars into Washington every year.) Don’t expect JetBlue to match that any time soon, Goodell says, although future expansion is possible. “It took eight or nine years to add a second person. I don’t expect they’re going to have a flood of people running around with JetBlue business cards,” Goodell says. — Jeff Horwitz
President Quinn Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y., wants Cassidy & Associates President Jack Quinn Jr. as its next president, though the appointment must be ratified by the State University of New York board of trustees at their meeting in March before it is final. The college announced its decision last week. Quinn, a former Republican congressman who represented part of upstate New York for 12 years, joined Cassidy in 2005. He’s also a former high school English teacher. In a statement, the firm said Quinn has kept the firm in the loop, and “we know there won’t be a definitive outcome until March.” The firm didn’t address whether Quinn would continue working with Cassidy in any capacity if he took the job. Quinn, one of four finalists for the job, has long been considered a leading candidate. Cassidy & Associates was ranked No. 11 on Legal Times‘ Influence 50 list last year, with $28.1 million in gross revenues for 2006. — Carrie Levine

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