After learning of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s policy of issuing credit cards to City-Parish Council members who request them — and giving each council member the autonomy to decide what travel expenses are appropriate to bill LCG for — The Independent Weekly checked in with three other cities to find out how LCG’s credit card and travel policies compares with others around the state.
Two we checked on don’t issue cards to council members, and a third does — though it has a policy for ensuring the card was used for city business only, something lacking in Lafayette.
This web-exclusive comparison coincides with The Independent Weekly’s news story on City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, who used his LCG-issued credit card to fund a three-night stay in New Orleans the weekend of last year’s Bayou Classic and stated in his expense report that the only reason for his trip was an hour-and-a-half scholarship brunch sponsored by the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. Read more on Shelvin’s Big Easy trip here.
According to the Lake Charles City Council clerk, council members are not allowed to hold their own government-issued credit cards. When travel expenses are requested for government-approved conferences, the council clerk books hotel rooms, flights and conference registration in advance of the scheduled trip and charges the expenses to a credit card used only by the council office. Council members in Lake Charles are sometimes reimbursed for other out-of-town ventures, such as traveling to a neighboring city to examine an asset Lake Charles might need, but when asked if the policy allows for council members to charge the city for a weekend in New Orleans for one brunch event, the council clerk promptly said, “Oh, no.”
Council members in Alexandria are given credit cards to use for city-related travel, according to the Alexandria City Council clerk’s office. But unlike the Lafayette City-Parish Council, the Alexandria City Council president reviews the charges and can decide if the travel expenses were inappropriate. If it is determined the purpose of the trip or the expenses incurred were not allowed, the council member must reimburse the city.
LCG can ask a council member to reimburse the city for expenses that do not follow travel policy, but, surprisingly, no one in the city administration or on the City-Parish Council can deny travel expenses based on the purpose of the trip. Each council member has an annual $4,000 travel budget, and he or she decides what’s appropriate travel. Shelvin, apparently, thought it was perfectly acceptable to turn what should have been a day trip to New Orleans into a three-night stay. He did not reimburse LCG for any of the weekend’s expenses, and no one is saying whether he was ever asked to do so.
Shreveport, like Lake Charles, does not allow its council members to have city-issued credit cards. When conferences or other travel is called for, the council office typically arranges some of the accommodations ahead of time, but council members must pay for the bulk of their travel expenses and seek reimbursement after their return.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.