Michael Skipper

CFM’s Productive Month for its Federal Affairs Clients

The Mill City Historic Railroad Bridge is one of two Mill City bridges that will be repaired and renovated with a DOT grant award that CFM helped to secure on behalf of Marion County. It was just one of several CFM Federal Affairs Team successes for its clients.

The Mill City Historic Railroad Bridge is one of two Mill City bridges that will be repaired and renovated with a DOT grant award that CFM helped to secure on behalf of Marion County. It was just one of several CFM Federal Affairs Team successes for its clients.

It’s been a productive month for CFM’s federal affairs team that included landing $15 million in federal grants for Oregon clients, freeing up funds for local law enforcement patrols and $400 million for bus replacements and bus facilities in the omnibus spending package. CFM maintains a full-time Washington, DC presence and represents mostly Pacific Northwest clients.

Mill City won a highly competitive $8.1 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to repair and renovate the North Santiam River Bridge, a critical component of the Mill City Downtown Restoration and Revitalization Project. It was the only TIGER grant awarded in Oregon and just one of 41 granted nationwide.

TIGER grant applications require exhaustingly complex 30-page applications with benefit cost analysis and a variety of technical and narrative requirements. These applications can be daunting for small communities, which is where CFM entered the picture on behalf of Marion County. 

“In the post-earmark era in Congress, federal grant applications are the only way for many communities to secure funding for infrastructure projects,” explains CFM’s Michael Skipper. “We apply our experience in writing grants and add advocacy to help our clients compete successfully.”

Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron said, “This project is a great opportunity not only for Mill City, but the entire region.”

CFM efforts also contributed to capturing $6.5 million for two Oregon transit agencies from the extremely competitive federal Bus and Bus Facility grant program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. Salem-Keizer Transit will be able to purchase six replacement buses for its fleet and Rogue Valley Transit District will buy seven replacement buses and create a Transit Signal Priority system to enhance bus operation efficiency.

"This funding will help ensure we meet our community's evolving needs for mobility and connectivity," said Robert Krebs, president of the Salem Area Mass Transit District's Board of Directors.

“CFM has a demonstrated history of success in pursuing funding from this program, securing a total of five awards for its three transit clients in the last two rounds,” says CFM’s Kirby Garrett.

Representing The Bus Coalition, CFM and its Capitol Hill champions lobbied successfully for an additional $400 million in FY 2018 for federal bus formula and grant funding programs, including $161 million for replacement bus and bus facility (BBF) grants.

“The current BBF round is oversubscribed by 10 to 1, with $2.5 billion in requests for $227 million in available funding,” says CFM’s Joel Rubin. “This lack of federal funding has been steadily eroding the state of good repair of the nation’s bus fleet and supporting facilities. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of transit buses operating past their 12-year useful increased nearly 40 percent and the number of buses operating more than 15 years increased by a staggering 92 percent.”

Perhaps the biggest rabbit extraction from the hat managed by CFM was securing a technical correction in the omnibus spending package that will allow Marion County to use $500,000 in available federal funds for law enforcement patrols and emergency response.

The correction, which CFM urged on behalf of Marion County, was necessary after the Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2012 strictly limiting expenditures under Secure Rural Schools Title III provisions. Prior to that, the County was allowed to use funding from Title III to patrol on US Forest Service land.

“This was a hard battle and, frankly, a pleasant surprise,” Rubin said. “The Oregon congressional delegation deserves a lot of credit for seeking a legislative solution that will help struggling rural Oregon communities.”



A Little Bragging about a Successful Session

CFM has always been a lobby firm dedicated to achieving client results. There is no better example of our work than the recently completed 2016 Oregon legislative session.

Our team of five lobbyists, led by CFM Partner Dan Jarman, worked on challenging legislative projects ranging from funding major sporting events to health care to low-income housing. Their work mirrored CFM’s intentionally diversified client portfolio that takes our lobby team to every corner of the state Capitol in Salem.

Success doesn’t happen by accident. “In a short session, there is a lot to do and not very much time to do it,” Jarman says. “You have to conceive a good plan, maintain the discipline to execute it and have the stamina to withstand all the turmoil to succeed. Our team did.”

Success doesn’t always occur in a single session, particularly a short one. And just because you succeed doesn’t mean that success is permanent.  “It takes vigilance to notch a client victory,” Jarman adds. “It takes just as much or more vigilance to preserve that victory.”

The CFM team in Salem consists of Dale Penn II, Ellen Miller and Tess Milio. Case studies highlighting some of their successes during the 2016 session are featured on CFM's homepage.

Michael Skipper, the fifth member of CFM's state team, joined the firm's federal affairs team in Washington, D.C., after the session. He has become the latest member of the CFM staff to work as a lobbyist in both D.C. and Salem.

There has been little time for the state team to rest. After writing their 2016 session reports for clients, they are already at work on legislation for the 2017 session as well as initiatives that voters will decide in the November general election.

“The cycle never stops,” Jarman said. “We can’t either."

Skipper Joins CFM Federal Affairs Team

Michael Skipper will join the CFM Federal Affairs team after working with the firm’s state affairs team during the 2015 and 2016 Oregon legislative sessions and assisting on political campaigns in Corvallis and Sherwood.

A political science graduate of Oregon State University, Skipper will assume the role of CFM Federal Affairs Associate.

"Michael's broad understanding of the issues facing the Pacific Northwest, ability to handle complex assignments and record of accomplishment in Salem makes him a perfect fit for the CFM D.C. team,” says Joel Rubin, CFM Federal Affairs Partner. "Having someone who understands the legislative process at the state level will integrate nicely into our comprehensive service model.” 

Skipper assisted the CFM State Affairs team with client, legislator and committee relations, monitored relevant legislation and provided general support. He brings solid communication, research and organizational skills to his new post.

“I’m looking forward to working in Washington, D.C., which has been a goal of mine,” Skipper says. “I’m delighted to continue my association with CFM in this new position.”

Skipper already has a working familiarity with some of CFM’s federal clients, which the firm represents at both the federal and state levels.

For fun, Skipper enjoys hitting the links, traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends. He is an avid sports fan who can routinely be found at any Trail Blazer or Beaver football, basketball and baseball games.

Skipper can be reached at michaels@cfmdc.com