Sunday, April 18, 2010

TRAVEL-SLASHING COUNCILMAN: Faces campaign rhetoric test

COLUMBIA, 4/18/10  (Beat Byte) -- Elected on a platform of slashing travel budgets during this difficult economy, Third Ward Columbia City Councilman Gary Kespohl faces his first test tomorrow night, when the newly-formed Citizens Police Review Board requests $4,400 to send two members to a five-night September conference in Seattle, Washington.

Transforming conferences into "taxpayer-funded spending junkets" and highlighting fancy destination cities such as Seattle in a political attack ad featuring Johnny Cash singing "I've Been Everywhere," Kespohl's 2010 City Council campaign was so critical of opponent Karl Skala's city-funded travel the Columbia Missourian posted a reader question, "Should a moratorium be put on city travel expenses?"

Kespohl promised to re-allocate $25,000 from the Council's travel budget --  ostensibly far more important than that of a citizen commission -- to
downtown safety cameras.

Monday night, the Police Review Board will request a travel budget for a single excursion -- to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) conference -- that represents nearly 25% of Skala's travel expenditures for an entire year -- $17,000.00.   At a whopping $2,200 per person, the Police Review Board travel request includes $200/person/night for a hotel;  $500/person airfare;  and the same $42/day per diem that landed Skala in hot water.

"On his Web site, Kespohl says he will not use taxpayer funds for any trips," the Columbia Tribune reported last month.

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