Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Are Not Alone

For quite some time, we thought that Dan Coody spent more time out of town than in his office. He has cut back on his extravagant travel to exotic places since he flip-flopped and decided to run for reelection, but we figured he must have captured the Traveling Trophy for mayors. When was the last time you heard about Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin, Springdale Mayor Jerry Van Hoose, or Rogers Mayor Steve Womack flitting off to Amsterdam to study bicycle riding? When did County Judge Jerry Hunton attend a swim suit contest on South Beach? How many of our City Council members get invited along on these junkets?

Now we learn that Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock has been giving Our Dan a run for our money. The Lord Mayor of Dogtown took three international trips in the last few years, and he bilked his city treasury for $23,573.73 between January 2007 and May 2008 for travel to "approximately 26 cities in the US including Key West, Minneapolis, DC, Newark, LA and Seattle for US Conference of Mayors meetings, LA and Houston for Rivers of Trade Corridor meetings, several Arkansas cities for AR Municipal League meetings, Albequerque and Fayetteville AR for ICLEI meetings, Seattle for the American Public Power Association, Norfolk for an Argenta/Rockwater trip, Houston to meet with Bomasada officials, Seattle to attend an Air Mobility Rodeo, St Louis to attend a Soccer Association meeting, and Rogers AR for a sustainability conference among others."

We are so glad to be internationally famous because our mayor travels as much as the Dogtown mayor. Well maybe. We haven't seen a summary of Dan Coody's travel logs or the total cost to taxpayers and special interest groups that bankrolled it. I searched the city's official website, but I could not find that information. I also searched the Northwest Arkansas Times, but I should have known better than to expect anything there. Does anyone know? And what about all those frequent flyer miles? Do those go back to the city, or does our mayor put those on his personal travel account?

Mayor Coody and Mayor Hays have other things in common besides their love of travel at someone else's expense. Mayor Hays wants to drain a wetland and use a TIF to build a Bass Pro Shoppe in North Little Rock. Mayor Coody used a TIF so developers could dig a sinkhole and sold off the fragile Wilson Spring wetlands to a developer.

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