Former City Councilman Tom White, who also served as staff liaison to the legislative body, thinks junkets by city legislators are nothing but a puppet-show waste of taxpayer dollars. City Council members use their stipends to attend government forums and programs. Upcoming is one hosted by the National League Of Cities in Washington, DC. In this commentary White decries the conference attendance that council members assert provides knowledge to bring back to their constituents.
Say kids, What time is it? It’s Howdy Doody time.
Nope. It’s time for another junket by city council members.
Anyone who has been employed in a position that encourages supplementing your skills and expanding your knowledge to improve your contribution to the organization’s mission appreciates the opportunity to attend conferences and, at the same time, recognizes the obligation to justify the expense.
Workshops can focus on specific practices and methods to improve your performance. Interaction with others in similar roles can help build a network of colleagues to share information with.
If you are a member of the Bridgeport City Council and heading to the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference in Washington DC, these obligations do not appear to apply.
You are attending because, well, you can. You will likely attend some interesting workshops which have nothing to do with the knowledge base or skills that could improve your performance as a member of the city council. Furthermore, why should taxpayers pay for skills that you should be bringing to your service on the council?
The Bridgeport City Council contingent will likely represent 75% of Connecticut elected officials in attendance. How can this be? Other Connecticut cities do not see the need for their legislative body members to attend and will not cover the cost. The only other city that provides a stipend to its Aldermen is New Haven. Their stipend is less than 1/3 that received by Bridgeport city council members and it can not be used for travel and conferences. Only three of their members can attend an event.
Will any council members be focused on learning best practices for WPCA collection policies? How about police overtime control?
Or, will they seek out social events, sightseeing or spending time with people with similar political beliefs such as ‘sanctuary cities’?
Will our council members provide an accounting of the benefits to taxpayers for their attending the conference? Are they required to? (the answer is no)
Instead, we will likely see postings to their personal Facebook pages (courtesy of an internet connection paid by Bridgeport taxpayers) with pictures of them dining (at taxpayer expense) or hobnobbing with Corey Booker.
All in favor? Aye!