In reviewing the travel/convention from expenses of the Caddo Commissioners, one might wonder if Commissioners Stephanie Lynch and Lindora Baker are ever in town to perform commissioner duties. Together they have outspent the rest of 10 Commissioners on travel/convention expenses since their term began in January 2011. Lynch’s expense through May of this year totaled $33,397; Baker’s total is $31, 954. Their $65,351 total over-shadows the $58, 377 spent by the rest of the Commissioners.
Of the remaining seven (7) commissioners who have been on expense paid trips, Ken Epperson leads the pack by a substantial margin – $21,029. After that Escude ($11,499), Carl Pierson ($7,685), Lyndon Johnson ($7,256), Mathew Linn ($7,125) and Michael Williams ($3,738) are the leading hitters on travel. Doug Dominick went to Washington Mardi Gras once, Commissioner David Cox had 3 Commission excursions (Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and Houma) and Joyce Baker made one to Houma. Commissioners Jim Smith and Mike Thibideux stayed at home while performing their commissioner duties.
For those constituents receiving post cards from Lynch, their collection should include mailings from Washington D.C., New Orleans, Fort Worth, San Francisco, Portland, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Detroit. Baker’s post card scrapbook should include cards from Washington D.C., Fort Worth, Portland, Los Angeles (Lynch missed that trip), Detroit and Houston. Lynch and Baker also made trips to Baton Rouge and Houma.
Bossier Police Jurors spend far less money on travel/conventions. Lynch and Baker exceeded the total amount for 2012 ($20,529) and to date for 2013 ($17,726). The top spenders in the east side of the river for 2012/2013 are Bob Brotherton ($7,801), Rick Avery ($5,631) and Jack Scaggs ($5,501).
Washington Mardi Gras is a popular destination for these elected officials. Lynch and Escude have attended all three years of their current term and Epperson attended in 2011 and 2013. Other Caddo commissioners in attendance at this big, big party in the nations’ capital include Carl Pierson (2011) and Doug Dominick (2013). Washington Mardi Gras is also popular with Bossier Parish Jurors as well; evidently partying Big Time is not limited to the west side of the river. Rick Avery, Wanda Bennet, Doug Rimmer and Jack Skaggs attended in 2012 and 2013. Bob Brotherton attended in 2012.
How much real benefit is realized from many of those taxpayer funded trips is an open question, – especially to the well-celebrated party bash that Washington Mardi Gras is known to be. Some of these elected officials, like Mathew Linn, have a well deserved reputation for utilizing their learning experiences at out of town conventions to introduce new programs and progressive government. Unfortunately, many of the trips appear to be fun outings for public officials who have no other real job and are really public dollar vacations. Hopefully these expenses will be remembered in the next election cycle.