A recent report by NBC4's Colleen Williams (pictured) questions the Los Angeles City Council's sometimes-lavish travel arrangements, especially in light of City Hall's $585 million deficit and impending layoffs.
The station found that the mayor and council spent $70,000 on travel in 2008 and 2009, including stays at top hotels. Last year Councilman Jose Huizar traveled to the East Coast to, in part, attend his Princeton University reunion -- "and you picked up the tab," Williams said. The cost to taxpayers: $3,000. Huizar reimbursed the city after learning of NBC4's report.
Few council members were spared the wrath of this report: Dennis Zine is said to have spent $3,000 to go to Norway and Sweden. Ed Reyes went to eight National League of Cities meetings -- he's a board member -- on the city's dime. Eric Garcetti and Bernard Parks were said to have stayed at "five-star hotels" with your money.
And Tony Cardenas rented a car with taxpayer money to visit Napa Valley "for no reason disclosed," according to the report.
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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took 11 trips in those two years -- "some related to the Obama nomination" -- at a cost to taxpayers of $25,000.
City Controller Wendy Greuel said that, in response to the report, she demanded that only "essential travel" would be allowed by council members. However, Villaraigosa already made such an order in response to the budget crisis, and it's not clear if Greuel has authority to limit council members' travel.
Meanwhile, City Hall watcher Zuma Dogg had this advice: "I got two words for these council members," he told NBC4: "Motel 6."
(See the report at Zuma Dogg's blog).