Long Beach or bust (Valles)

Fifteen-hundred-dollar hotel bills for two-night and three-day conferences in Long Beach — $1,500! That is the latest gem I have uncovered on the Council expense reports and credit card statements.

For several weeks now, I have been reviewing the expensive junkets and trips our members of the Apple Valley Town Council take on our dime.

Previously, I discussed how every year our Council members take trips to Sacramento to attend an academy for new mayors and council members — even though they aren’t new mayors or new council members. And I exposed how the material taught at this academy by the League of California Cities (LCC) is the same exact stuff, literally word for word, each year. It is ridiculous. But, the ridiculousness doesn’t end there.

The LCC puts on several useless conferences every year, including something called their Annual Conference & Expo. And every year, we pay to send eight to 10 people, including the Council, to this event. The location of the fall conference, with its $575 per person registration fee, changes each year. This year, the conference will be held in Long Beach from Sept. 12-14.

Back in 2016, the conference was also held in Long Beach. That was when “Boeing” Barb Stanton spent $1,560.58 to stay at the Hyatt Regency. Check that. Barb didn’t pay it. You and I paid for it – just like we have been paying for her personal cell phone bill since 2011 and numerous plane trips.

If you look at this link, you will see that the Hyatt Regency was tied for the most expensive option available: https://bit.ly/2EnxWPa.

But that isn’t the most troubling aspect. The discount group rate offered to conference attendees was $209 per night. Even if you factor in taxes and fees and assume that the daily rate is actually $250 per night, how is it possible that her bill was a whopping $1,560 for the Oct. 5-7, two-night and three-day conference? That is roughly six to seven night’s worth of billing.

It is madness.

I checked out the expense reports for the other Council members. Scott Nassif was the only member to not attend. Art Bishop’s hotel bill was $1,248. Curt Emick’s bill was $1,022.

So, what gives? Why is there such a disparity and why are these bills so high when the daily rate is only $209 at the most expensive option? Why aren’t they more in line with Larry Cusack’s bill which was only $534.24?

A couple of weeks ago, the Council unanimously voted to cut compensation and benefits for rank-and-file employees to make up a $2.6 million budget shortfall. However, they didn’t cut their own pay and benefits, nor did they make any cuts to their travel slush fund. And of course, they didn’t slash any of the top-heavy management.

Stanton said, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to be fiscally sound.” Will Stanton reimburse Apple Valley taxpayers for the $10,000 we have spent on her cell phone bills?

Will she explain why she is forcing us to pay $1,500 hotel bills for two-night conferences? Yeah. Sure. You betcha! Don’t hold your breath.

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Source: Angela Valles, Apple Valley Review