Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Our Opinion: Travel stipends should stop

Ukiah Daily Journal Staff
Updated: 06/21/2010 09:53:59 AM PDT

We agree with the Mendocino County Grand Jury that the District Attorney should have taken action to force County Supervisor Kendall Smith to repay the county the money she owed after a close look at her travel expenses showed she had charged the taxpayers for about $3,000 in expenses that were not eligible.

Smith has consistently refused to pay the money back and the DA should use her power to make her write that check.

But Smith's greed has been decried on this page before.

Today we want to take up the grand jury's call for the county supervisors to revert back to a mileage and expenses reporting system for all travel and expenses.

Giving themselves nice monthly checks for "expenses" regardless of where they travel or how often is an insult to the taxpayers and ludicrous in a time of budget constraints.

Furthermore, it gets the supervisors out of having to report to the public where they travel and who they meet with when they do.

We think it's imperative that the supervisors go back to submitting mileage forms and receipts for stays at hotels, or meals that they believe the taxpayers should pay for.

After all, a lot of what supervisors do each day is aimed at getting reelected. Campaign costs can easily be masked in a monthly travel stipend that might be clear if the receipts were scrutinized.

And, we've said it before, but we hotly disagree with the notion that supervisors should get paid to travel to and from work in Ukiah. That goes against any normal mode of business expense reimbursement we know of and getting to work from your district comes with the territory as an elected official. It's not enough that each supervisor makes three times the median wage of people in this county. They have to be paid to drive to work too?

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