Since being sworn in for a second term on July 1, Mayor Villaraigosa has made two international trips. And because the mayor is escorted on his travels by LAPD officers, guess who paid for his security?

Taxpayers did. And it set us back more than $20,000, according to the City Controller's office. KTLA's Eric Spillman had to legally force the city to reveal the security costs, which for months were kept under wraps by the mayor's office and the LAPD.

Somewhat ironically, the mayor was accompanied on his trip to South Africa by his girlfriend Lu Parker, who was then a KTLA anchor.

But back to the important stuff. What was the mayor doing on his expensive adventures abroad? Studying successful crime-fighting techniques? Consulting with international experts on municipal budgeting?

No, he was communing with academics and chillin' with his son. And his girlfriend.

Villaraigosa visited South Africa to meet with graduate students at a summit paid for by the Academy of Achievement. Other attendees included “Christian music pioneer Amy Grant” and chimp expert Jane Goodall. Surely the mayor gained some valuable professional insights for which taxpayers should be thankful.

During his expedition to Iceland, Villaraigosa enjoyed some fly-fishing with his son and a few friends. Fortunately LAPD's finest made sure our mayor didn't endanger himself during that treacherous endeavor.

Assuming nothing changes around City Hall, every time Villaraigosa decides it's time for a vacation, taxpayers will continue to foot a hefty portion of the bill. During the mayor's two jaunts this year, more than $2,000 was spent just to feed his security officers.

Perhaps equally distressing is that when asked to disclose the public costs of the mayor's security, officials claimed the info might compromise his safety. It's about time government stops falling back on that excuse every time it wants to keep a secret.

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