Porterville's own tempest in a teapot
We agree with Councilman Greg Shelton that the city should not pay for tickets for any council member to attend public events, but we don’t agree that the problem of paying some expenses by council members is out of control.
We also find it interesting that the councilman has flip-flopped from seeking to use the council budgeted fund — roughly $4,500 to cover expenses — to purchase tickets or make donations, to now eliminating that fund altogether.
The city has budgeted $4,500 per council member to cover costs, and we agree that the city should pay for their laptops, iPhones and the meager $20 a meeting they are given for serving on the city’s governing body. That is simply the cost of doing business.
However, as we stated before, paying for council members to attend community events should be up to the individual council members. We admit that they get invited to many events, are often asked to purchase a ticket or to give a donation, but that too is the price of the position they have sought. Some council members are more likely to purchase those tickets and attend community events, while others don’t. However, an appearance at a public event only enhances their shot at reelection and such appearances ought to be paid for by the council members. That would include donations they may want to make.
We are confident the practice of paying for council members to attend local events is not the problem that Mr. Shelton feels it is. And, we feel the city should pick up the cost of travel on behalf of the city, such as Councilman Brian Ward’s trip to New York to look into Harlem’s anti-gang efforts, or past council members who have gone to Washington DC as part of the One Voice trip to lobby federal lawmakers. Even trips to Visalia on city business, if they are asked to go, should be covered by the taxpayers. If they chose to just show up, then it should be on their dime.
This is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.