Can you hear me now? (Valles)

Boeing Barb Stanton loves to fly on the taxpayers’ dime. Since the beginning of 2015, it appears she has flown on at least 21 trips at a cost of approximately $7,500 on airfare and related fees.

Nearly all of the trips were to Sacramento via Southwest Airlines. The entire Southwest fleet is comprised of Boeing 737s.

I also discovered that you the taxpayer has been footing her monthly cell phone bill going back to June 2011. The total cost is approaching $10,000 or on average, $120 per month. Her carrier of choice is Verizon.

Can you hear me now?

According to Deputy Town Clerk Amber Jones, Stanton is the only council member that seeks reimbursement for their personal cell phone bill. Hmm?

Now, it strikes me as being highly unusual that a council member from little old Apple Valley would need to hop on a plane and fly to Sacramento nearly every other month! It just seems excessive in so many different ways.

While there are obviously going to be bills and proposed legislation in Sacramento that will impact our communities, why does a council member need to fly up there every other month and what exactly does that accomplish? Don’t we have representatives elected to serve in the state legislature whose full-time jobs are to be in Sacramento representing their constituents and local governments?

She couldn’t drive over to one of their district offices, wait to talk to one of them at a government meeting, or simply call them up on the cell phone you all pay for?

We can communicate and disseminate information nearly effortlessly nowadays. Various forms of electronic communication allow for instantaneous transfers of information, remote meetings, video conference calls, etc.

Remember, the $7,500 figure above doesn’t count any travel expenses to and from the airport like taxis, mileage reimbursements, or parking fees. It doesn’t include $200 plus per night hotel stays or meals. Are Apple Valley taxpayers really deriving any benefit from these excessive trips by Stanton?

If so, what is that benefit? I doubt if she had to pay for these trips out of her own pocket that she would travel this much. Heck, she won’t even pay for her own cell phone bill.

Back in 2012, she soaked taxpayers for a $313 phone bill claiming that she had data overages while conducting town business on her vacation. Aren’t you so happy to have a dedicated public servant like Stanton working so hard on your behalf?

I always find it fascinating when people run for office. When asking for your support and vote they talk about how important public service is — how much of a privilege it is to hold office and work for the people. But when they get elected these officials seek to nickel and dime the taxpayers for reimbursement of expenses, take expensive and worthless junkets, and soak up all the benefits and perks of office.

When I served on the Victorville City Council, I avoided these junkets and make work trips. I traveled to Sacramento one time for my initial new council member training in the four years I served. I have always believed they were excuses to schmooze, booze and travel on the public’s dime under the guise of phony baloney excuses. Most all of these events have video recordings, audio recordings, and literature handouts you can download without wasting money and time traveling.

Now, in all fairness to Barb, I have no idea if her travel schedule is more or less busy than other members of the Council. Over the last several weeks I have been reviewing the various credit card statements and expense reports submitted by members of the Apple Valley Council. There are more than 500 pages of documents that have been provided to me and it is a rather tedious and time-consuming affair to review, analyze and document the information. Even though this is an opinion piece I like to give you the facts and the truth.

For all I know, her colleagues may have wasted even more of our money. I honestly hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Stay tuned for future columns. There will be more coverage of these expense reports.

You won’t believe what I am finding.

Source: Angela Valles, Daily Press