Where the Travis County Commissioners dare not tread, the Austin City Council rushes in blindly! The city voted to spend about $5600 on airfare for the otherwise all-expenses paid trip, and they’re sending Mayor Lee Leffingwell, city manager Marc Ott, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr.
Gosh, what a great thing Circuit of the Americas is doing for our city leaders! Paying for a swank last-minute trip across the globe so they can better understand the dynamics of a Formula One race. No reason whatsoever to look at this as an inappropriate gift from a private corporation, which will be working with the city in the future as the track here gains in popularity (or doesn’t).
And I suppose taxpayers shouldn’t get too upset – after all, it’s just $5600. This time.
Councilmembers Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo both opposed the entire idea, and their reasoning was much stronger than the county commissioners’ had been (earlier this week, the commissioners’ court opted not to send any employees to the London Formula One race next week, presumably because of the short notice). Tovo said flat-out that in a time of scant resources, paying for a trip like this is inappropriate at best. Sure is nice that she believes that – a shame it’s a somewhat inconsistently applied principle.
The council did not opt to spend the money for the temporary customs facility. So there’s that. They’ll just be sending the top city leaders plus the top safety officials overseas for a sight-seeing trip. No biggie.