Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Examiner Exposes Executive

Even though the Sentinel’s Glynis Kazanjian is more fun, our nominee for mainstream media (MSM) reporter of the week is the Examiner’s Alan Suderman. His juicy tidbit on a 2008 staff retreat called by County Executive Ike Leggett is a lip-smacking delight!

Suderman reports that Leggett held a two-day senior staff retreat at Brookside Gardens in June 2008. The total cost: $24,750 paid out to consultants. As Suderman points out, the retreat was held only months after Leggett proposed raising property taxes to close a budget gap.

Suderman’s exchange with Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield is priceless:

Asked what the benefit of the retreat was for county residents, Lacefield asked: “Are you really asking me that question?”
Suderman deserves a raise for getting that quote and Lacefield deserves a cut for giving it to him!

In other taxpayer-funded trip news, the Executive Branch told us how much money Leggett and his security detail spent at the August Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) meeting. If you recall, the purpose of the meeting was so that county officials could be told directly by state officials, “You’re getting screwed this year.” Golly, guys, they could have stayed home and let the Post’s John Wagner tell them that for free. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, with some having a better time than others.

Here’s the County Executive’s MACO tab:

Registration: $285
Hotel for the Executive, three nights at $322.83 a night: $968.48
Meal: $27.42
Hotel for two security guards, three nights at $227.67 a night each: $1,366.00
Total cost: $2,646.90
We hear that MANY county senior staffers attended MACO, meaning that the total Executive Branch cost could have easily exceeded $20,000. Didn’t they hear Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg telling them to tighten their belts?

Nevertheless, we give the County Executive’s staff credit for answering our request. On the same day we emailed them, we emailed the County Council seeking the amounts of taxpayer money they spent at MACO. We have yet to hear back from them. Perhaps they are saving money by cutting back on staff time devoted to answering public information requests.