The La Puente City Council will hold its regular meeting at 7 tonight to discuss several items, including one that requires council members to gain approval by the council before traveling for a conference.
The item is being brought forward by Councilman David Argudo, who by far spent the most and traveled the most of any council member in 2011.
According to city documents, Argudo went on nine trips and spent about $11,686. Many of those expenses include hotel-room goodies ($10 chocolate-covered almonds), room service ($63 breakfast) and very expensive dinners – a $109 (plus a $21 tip) dinner at Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse and a $156 (plus $25 tip) at the Signature Room at the 95th – while on a trip to Chicago.
Mayor John Solis, on the other hand, went on seven trips at a cost of $7,768, which included a $75 valet parking charge he billed to the city for a trip to Indian Wells.
He insisted to me during a call he made to me soon after a travel story I wrote came out that it was a necessary charge because the hotel requires it. Calling it a one-sided story – because I included that pesky charge – he asked me to look the expense report over again. I discovered that I failed to mention that on top of those $75, he also gave out about $35 in tips to the valet driver. Then I went to the hotel’s website and saw that the regular parking fee is $12 a day. Nice try.
Councilman Vince House went on six trips totaling $6,438. While on a trip to Oxnard in October, House rejected an $83.50 mileage refund he was due because he stated that he was already receiving auto allowances, according to documents.
Councilman Dan Holloway went on two trips, one of which he spent $2,584 and the other he did not charge the city for.
Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza has not traveled since she was elected to office in 2007.
Records show that the City Council collectively spent $28,475 in 2011.
Each council member, though, can spend about $8,400 for the fiscal year, which runs from July 2011 to July 2012.
Spending at least $3,066 since July, Solis recently went to the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. I’m not sure on the cost of that trip yet.
But according to the warrant register on the agenda tonight, it sounds like Argudo, who has spent $7,347 since July, recently went on a trip to San Francisco. For someone who said last month that he was under his travel budget, I hope that trip was less than the remaining $1,053 he has.
We’ll see how tonight’s meeting goes.