One of the perks of being an elected official is paid expenses for various conventions and meetings – – both in and out of the state. These expenses include travel, registration fees and the cost of hotel rooms and food.
The Shreveport City Council travel policy is very open-ended, – – “city council members will approve their travel.” The policy restricts travel requests to what “has been budgeted for training and travel.” The budget submitted by each council member “may include two educational sessions (e.g. annual meetings of the National League fo Cities or the Louisiana Municipal Association) and travel expenditures (e.g. a lobby trip to the legislature or another city to explore a successful project in development).
The current council was sworn in on November 23, 2010. Since that date Rose McCulloch has expended $8,432.00 for conventions, meetings and food. Oliver Jenkins has expended $1,706.00 and Jeff Everson $820.00. Council members Mike Corbin, Ken Webb, Joe Shyne, and Sam Jenkins leave no travel/convention/meeting expenses paid by taxpayers.
Rose McCulloch is a former Caddo Commissioner, and she obviously still likes to run in the Police Jury circles. Her taxpayer paid trips included the National Association of Counties Conference in Washington, D. C., (March 2013), the National Organization of Black County Officials Annual Economic Development Conference in Detroit, Michigan (May 2013) and Decatur, Georgia (April 2012) and the Police Jury Association of Louisiana Annual Conference in Houma, Louisiana (February 2012). She also attended a Downtown Revitalization trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in October 2011.
Oliver Jenkins’ one trip was to New York City in May 2011 to successfully assist the City to obtain a higher bond rating. Jeff Everson attended a Downtown Revitalization trip in Oklahoma City (October 2011) and a Legislative Property Law meeting in Baton Rouge, (January 2013).
The Bossier City Council clerk reports that Bossier does not have a written policy on expenses for conventions/meeting/travel. The current Bossier Council just started a new term; the expenses reported are from the last term which started in the spring of 2009.
David Montgomery has been paid expenses of $3,405.00; all but $37.00 of this amount was to attend a Credit Rating Agencies trip to New York City in 2011. Larry Hanisee, who was in office for just a little more than 2 years, expended $1,497.00 for attending Louisiana Municipal Association (LMA) conferences in 2011 and 2012. Hanisee was recently defeated in a run off election to a full term on the Bossier Council.
Jeff Darby expended $1485.00 for attendance in 2009 and 2012 to the LMA Conferences. David Jones, who did not seek re-election to the council this year, expended $792.00 for travel during his last four year term. He traveled to the 2009, 2010, and 2011 LMA Conferences. Chubby Knight, while on the council, expended $250.00 for the 2009 LMA Conference; Jim Rogers and Scott Lewis each expended $200.00 for the LMA Conferences.
The total expenses for travel by the Shreveport City Council from November 2010 through date is $10,259.00; Rose McCulloch’s travels constitute 82% of these expenditures. Bossier’s total expenses from January 2009 through date are $7,830.00. Thus in less than three (3) years, Rose McCulluch has spent more on travel/convention/meeting expenses than the entire Bossier City Council incurred in four (4) years. Taxpayers of the respective cities can draw their own conclusions on the use of public funds by their elected council members.