When I’m the City Councilman in the 5th District I PROMISE, I Will NEVER do This!

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March 22, 2011

Spector bills city $1,155 for trip to neighboring D.C.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector billed the city $1,155 to attend a three-day conference less than an hour away in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Registration for the National Association of Counties conference cost $515. Spector is seeking reimbursement for an additional $640 for her hotel stay, mileage, parking and food, according to an item on the agenda for Wednesday’s Board of Estimates meeting.

Spector said that she spent the night in the hotel because she needed to attend a session at 7 a.m. Saturday. She chairs the ports subcommittee of the transportation committee which met early Saturday to go over their legislative agenda, Spector said.

“I always tell people how important the port is to Baltimore and the state,” said Spector. “So much economic development is based on that port.”

Spector said she spent two nights at the hotel and attended two of the five days of the conference.

The conference was held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in the Woodley Park area, about 43 miles from Spector’s official home on Park Heights Avenue in her Northwest Baltimore district. The hotel is even closer to the Downtown condominium where Spector spends the bulk of her time — about 34 miles away.

Update: The Board of Estimates did approve Spector’s travel costs this morning. An agenda for the conference lists the ports subcommittee meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, not at 7 a.m.

Posted by Julie Scharper at 6:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)
Categories: City Hall
        

Comments

This doesnt even seem that outrageous. Who cares?

400 bucks a day for lodging and food in the nations capitol? Thats not really that bad.

Posted by: whoevencares | March 22, 2011 9:13 PM

“Spector said that she spent the night in the hotel because she needed to attend a session at 7 a.m. Saturday. She chairs the ports subcommittee of the transportation committee which met early Saturday to go over their legislative agenda, Spector said. ” .
If she ‘chairs’ the dang committee, couldn’t she have scheduled it for a bit later in the morning? This wouldn’t be news IF it weren’t for the sorry state of affairs of most states budgets. Someone needs to take the lead on being more fiscally responsible. I guess it won’t be “Rikki”.

Posted by: Mac | March 22, 2011 9:46 PM

Thats what they do in Baltimore city. why do you thing people are leaving the city as fast as they can?

Posted by: Ropbert Lowery | March 23, 2011 12:41 AM

Rikki, don’t lose that number
You don’t wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter, to yourself
Rikki don’t lose that number
It’s the only one you own
You might use if you feel better
When you get home

Posted by: Dan | March 23, 2011 12:43 AM

This is outrageous… Certainly wouldn’t pass if it were even run by the federal government. I believe it is over 60 miles away and strictly per diem. Oh well, atleast she is not stealing gift cards and even if she was Baltimore would be footing the bill for her pension

Posted by: David | March 23, 2011 12:49 AM

Amazing cut the Police pay 2% and put them in harms way daily, close fire stations and short change the citizens with fire protection. But hevean forbid some council person have to drive to Washington DC on their own dime. I think she should pay her own way on this one!

Posted by: Dale | March 23, 2011 4:26 AM

As one who commutes to DC every day, it is real hard to understand why she could not have gotten up early and driven to the conference. The other issue is why did she only attend 2 of the 5 days of the conference that WE paid for. Sounds to me like she was just trying to get a weekend in DC on the taxpayers. Its time for her to retire.

Posted by: fedhill | March 23, 2011 6:20 AM

Typical mind set of an elected Baltimore official whats in it for me?

Posted by: john | March 23, 2011 8:49 AM

Her job is to represent the 5th on the City Council. After three decades on the council, she should have the pick of any CC committee chair she wants. So which committee does she chair? None. Which does she vice-chair? None. Why doesn’t she take a break from her junket lifestyle and actually use her influence on behalf of the people of the 5th? I don’t think that there are any ports in NW Baltimore! She must have it confused with Harbor View.

Posted by: Angry 5th District Voter | March 23, 2011 9:59 AM

It’s reimbursement for business travel. Sorry, I’m just not outraged. We live in a horrible traffic corridor, so no, I don’t expect her to drive back and forth. As both a price-conscious business traveler and no fan of Ms, Spector, I can’t find a lot of fault.

Posted by: Thomas | March 23, 2011 10:00 AM

Wouldn’t be reimbursed by the State because you have to live 50 miles or farther away to get reimbursed. Although that ruke probably depends on who you know. BTW – it is pretty easy to get into DC early on a Saturday morning, no rush hour traffic.

Posted by: Ben | March 23, 2011 10:22 AM

Echoing @whoevencares, this is not newsworthy, Julie Scharper and editors. $640 for 2 days/2 nights for overnight accommodations AND mileage AND parking AND food in DC is far from unreasonable. And the conference is legit.

Perhaps you could have given your reporting more credibility if you’d delved into how much she charges the City on an annual basis, rather than for one instance…

Posted by: BurdO | March 23, 2011 10:38 AM

I also do not see the issue here. When I have to work in DC or Northern Virginia for more than one day, I also stay in a hotel.

The real outrage here (if any) should be the hotel and parking rates that people have to pay in DC.

Posted by: Bill P | March 23, 2011 10:55 AM

This is really inappropriate. If she had a 7am meeting, she could have left at 6pm and still made it with time to spare. Marylanders do that commute every day.

Is it egregious though? Only if the bill gets approved.

What bothers me though is that this incident made the news, when dozens of City employees get paid to do nothing, or use their take home cars to drive to another county.

Posted by: Andy | March 23, 2011 11:14 AM

So ‘official home’ is an accepted term and practice. Wow. I live here 7 days a week, can I take her place? I’d love a city pension.

Posted by: BrianHLT | March 23, 2011 12:22 PM

Rivoting Story… This reporter needs to find a new line of work

Posted by: Joe | March 23, 2011 12:45 PM

As a state employee who works under different rules, I am required to commute between the two cities when I have the need to attend conference because they are so close (I’m based in Baltimore). Yeah, I agree that you can quickly rack up $1,100 for a conference like that but it doesn’t mean she should have. I for one am happy to take the time to commute to save the state money. Guess our city council members’ time is just that valuable (sarcasm intended).

Posted by: Daniel Plainview | March 23, 2011 5:10 PM

Personally I say good for someone on the Baltimore Sun for watching the politicians and at minimum making them think twice about what they do. Rikki could have stayed at her place in Harbor East (where she LIVES)and made the 30 commute, due to the fact that there is little to no traffic in that area at that time – I know it because I have driven it MANY times. The fact that she has been reimbursed is not my issue, it is that fact that there is so little thought that seems to go into how our tax dollars are spent. These public “servants” truly view themselves in the same light as private professionals – and they are not they should be second guessing EVERY PENNY they spend at every turn. I say good for you Julie. Keep up the watch dogging. It may not make you popular but no really good reporter should be – respected yes, popular, not so much.

Posted by: DC or Bust | March 23, 2011 6:11 PM

Personally I say good for someone on the Baltimore Sun for watching the politicians and at minimum making them think twice about what they do. Rikki could have stayed at her place in Harbor East (where she LIVES)and made the 30 commute, due to the fact that there is little to no traffic in that area at that time – I know it because I have driven it MANY times. The fact that she has been reimbursed is not my issue, it is that fact that there is so little thought that seems to go into how our tax dollars are spent. These public “servants” truly view themselves in the same light as private professionals – and they are not they should be second guessing EVERY PENNY they spend at every turn. I say good for you Julie. Keep up the watch dogging. It may not make you popular but no really good reporter should be – respected yes, popular, not so much.

Posted by: DC or Bust | March 23, 2011 6:12 PM

This headline is so misleading. The conference cost alone was $550.00. There is no control over that cost and it is usual. The two-day stay for hotel, food, parking (outrageous in DC) was $605. She was attending a major national conference for county councils for the 13th largest city in America. Maybe the headline should read “New frugality record set. Council member spent only $605 for a two-day stay in one of the most expensive cities in America.” Attending a conference is different from a day at work. There are connections made through after-conference planned events that are useful and helpful. Conferences are also about making connections and talking with peers. I say this is really a non-issue.

Posted by: janjamm | March 23, 2011 6:37 PM

What a crook. Parking in DC is free on weekends and drive from Baltimore to the exact hotel takes 1hr in morning and 1.5 hr in evening. She only went to two days? How much for food and miles on car?

Make her pay it back or don’t reimburse this crook. VOTERS REMEMBER THIS CROOK!!

Posted by: jeff davis | March 23, 2011 7:22 PM

This is the first time I ever made a comment or responded to anything on the internet.
This is NOT news. This reporter is a joke. Baltimore Sun: please fire this reporter ASAP,she is wasting readers’ time, losing credibility of paper. Fire her, this isn’t newsworthy. It’s just a person’s expenses for a couple days at a meeting. So what. This article is awful, delete it.

Posted by: ACK | March 23, 2011 8:09 PM

I have my own business, and I would DRIVE to save money. But, when someone else is paying the dime, I would stay in DC.

In this case, with the city budget as it is, I would take responsibility and drive. Or at least stay at cheap hotel on NY Avenue.

If we all need to sacrifice, then we ALL need to sacrifice. she is a career politician.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2011 8:56 PM

DC has this thing called Metro. I had to go to a lengthy conference in DC once. I had to be there early in the morning and the conference ended right at rush hour. I made it on time every day. Sure, driving there in all the traffic was very annoying both directions. However, there was never any need to have a hotel room or have someone pay for my meals outside the conference.

If I and my coworkers can do it, then I don’t see why this council person needed special accommodations to get to the conference at its early start. She should have drove and taken metro like the rest of us. This is an example of one of the little excesses officials indulge in often adding up to one big pile of hurt come budget time.

Posted by: BigDragon | March 23, 2011 10:43 PM

I went to a conference at Woodley Park Marriott and it took me an hour to get from NY Avenue and Bladensburg Rd intersection to the marriott, it was horrid traffic, block after block of red lights.

It would not represent the City or the Port well to have Ms, Spector arrive late to her speaking engagement.

Hatchet job.

Posted by: MIke | March 24, 2011 7:12 AM

So it comes out that her meeting was at 2pm, not 7am. That hotel stay is looking a little more ridiculous. She should be able to charge mileage and food — these are normal and understandable business travel expenses. People commute from Baltimore to DC five days a week for work and don’t put themselves up in fancy hotels on the taxpayer’s dime.

Posted by: FHT | March 24, 2011 8:05 AM

WOW! power corupts! entitlements off the hook! To quoye T-Sizzle”They got fat while we starved!”

Posted by: iom | March 24, 2011 8:32 AM

This might be the biggest non story I have ever read and I am the first to criticize wasteful spending. Seriously, how the hell did this story ever get posted online. It’s embarrassing that I even read a paper that runs junk like this.

Posted by: goldstan | March 24, 2011 9:04 AM

You folks should not get your panties in a bunch over this. Having been in that position, and having done it both ways, I can tell you that what she did was efficient and reasonable. The expenses were necessary and appropriate.

Posted by: foreyes | March 24, 2011 9:14 AM

She sub-chairs a transportation committee and couldn’t map out a way to make it from Baltimore to DC on a Saturday morning for a meeting that began at 2pm? Are we sure this woman has the mental capacity to make decisions? Our city council is so consistent; we can really depend on every one of them to support an image of corruption and greed. I hope we all remember to thank them by voting in the upcoming election.

Posted by: Shereese Maynard | March 24, 2011 9:27 AM

Yet another City Council member in the mold of Sheila Dixon…People, hide your gift cards (and children), she may need to turn the receipts in to get reimbursed for taking her child to White Marsh for shoes.

Posted by: Bill K | March 24, 2011 10:13 AM

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.
Julie Bykowicz has been a reporter at The Baltimore Sun for more than a decade. She hit the campaign trail for the 2010 governor’s race and has covered the Maryland General Assembly since January 2009. Julie previously focused on criminal justice, juvenile services and legal matters. She lives in Baltimore.
John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.
Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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About scottcarberry

I'm one nifty dude who is fascinated by his hometown; Baltimore, MD. It is persistently beautiful and ugly and I wish to live nowhere else ever again.
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