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.
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.