Here it is, an open invitation to all City Council Members and the Peyton administration. Here is your chance to kill two birds with one stone. In one fell swoop you can put me in my place and perhaps begin to restore some public confidence that you are wise stewards of our tax monies.
As recently pointed out by Ron Littlepage, in a Times-Union article, the time of the year is upon us again as our city leaders begin planning to go on the Chamber of Commerce leadership trip. Each year, us taxpayers pay for many of our elite leaders to go to such far away cities as San Francisco, Austin, Denver and, this year, New Orleans.
On our dollar, City Council Members and Mayoral staffers will be staying at the Royal Senesta hotel, located right on Bourbon Street. The cost per room is $110 per night. Of course, this doesn’t include the food, drinks and airfare that will also be picked up by the people of Duval County.
Is it a bad thing for the Chamber to be planning these trips? Absolutely not. Planning these types of get-aways and opportunities for networking is exactly what the Chamber exists for. But when we find publicly elected officials going on these trips and we are seeing no return on our invested dollars, I’d call that a bad investment for the taxpayers.
I hope you’ll forgive me for coming across maybe a little harsh or skeptical, but we have to ask these questions of our leaders because at times they just seem so – I hate to use the word – inept. I offer up as proof, just a listing of key words: “courthouse”, “big ideas”, “1st Timothy”. And I think you start to get the point.
So you may be reading this thinking, “These trips ARE good for the city” (if so, I’d bet money you’re going to New Orleans soon). That is where the challenge comes in. I challenge any of our elected leaders who have been on one of these trips previously (you can’t hide, we know you are out there) to contact us and let us know which adult field trip you went on at our expense and a specific idea that you picked up from that city that you then came back and implemented here in Jackonville. And it must be specific to that city or else we would ask, why not have these conferences in downtown Jacksonville (I think our Convention and Visitors Bureau would love this idea!)
I’ll be anxiously awaiting a response. But I’m not going to hold my breath.