The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Cindy's Corner

March 10, 2011

CINDY'S CORNER: Care needs to be taken each year on who goes on D.C. trip

ENID — By Cindy Allen



 

 Some city and chamber officials have squirmed at me in the past over my opinion on the annual Chamber-City liaison trip every year to Washington D.C. to lobby on behalf of Vance Air Force Base.

In fact, I’ll admit to being a stinkerpants about this trip and about scrutinizing who goes on the trip on city taxpayer money

In the nine years I’ve been editor of the Enid News & Eagle, I’ve seen all kinds of people go on this trip. The Chamber hosts the trip and several chamber members go to represent their fields or professions or interests. These representatives pay their own way. The chamber does pay for a reception for lawmakers while in D.C.

 Then, there are city people who go – some staff and some members of the commission – on the taxpayer dime.

 I don’t dispute the good will that comes from this annual trip. I also don’t dispute the wonderful job our community has done over the past 15 or 20 years in helping Pentagon officials understand the necessity of keeping Vance – and all bases – vital in Oklahoma.

 I’m just concerned about the perception of this trip to local taxpayers.

 I’ve seen the expense reports from these trips. The folks don’t go to Washington on the cheap. They stay at nice hotels and they eat at very nice restaurants.

 This year, two new city commissioners who haven’t even taken the oath of office went on the trip. An assistant in the city attorney’s office went on the trip. The police chief and fire chief took the trip, as did one sitting commissioner and also the city planner. This is a reasonable size group for the city. One year I raised hell because all the commissioners – and their spouses --- went on the trip. Yet, I do question paying expenses for citizens who aren’t even on the city commission yet. I also think there should be better justification for the police chief and fire chief to go on this trip other than “they haven’t been and it’s their turn to go.” And an assistant in the attorney’s office? Why?

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