Since the beginning of 2007, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy has taken nine trips to other cities for official business, for a total cost of $8,561, according to a summary she released last week at the request of City Council member Carl Mumpower. City staff also compiled and released the expenses for three other Council members who have traveled on city funds in the same time period.
In a Feb. 20 e-mail, Bellamy said her travel expenses constituted a good investment for the city, because those trips helped her to “leverage nearly $1,000,000 for our community (new dollars awarded to the Homeless Coalition, new dollars for replacement vehicles for transit system, new dollars for Asheville Police Department, and new dollars for the Reid Center).”
“As you can see the majority of my trips were to Washington,” Bellamy wrote, adding that those trips were instrumental to the city’s effort to garner federal funds. “While I did attend various conferences to learn, I spent time lobbying our Federal legislators during my visits. I met with Senator Burr, Senator Dole, Rep. Shuler and/or their key staff members. At each meeting I presented council’s legislative agenda, which the majority of council adopted, as well as information on key grants that staff had applied for or were in the process of applying for.”
Bellamy itemized trips for other purposes, as well. For example, the city spent $1,267.08 on her trip to Boston, where she met with Staples executives in order to urge the office-supply company to modify parts of its Merrimon Avenue store.
Here are the totals for her other official trips: $1,403.65 and $1,620.23, U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meetings, Washington, D.C.; $995.59, National Congress on Secure Communities (sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security), Washington, D.C.; $106.43, Gaston County Chamber of Commerce forum, “Successful Partnerships among N.C. Larger Cities,” Gastonia; $1,036.74, African-American Leadership Conference, Washington, D.C.; $14, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Visit, Washington, D.C.; $314.84, N.C. Metro Coalition Legislative Day, Raleigh; $1,892.45, National League of Cities Conference, Washington, D.C.
And here are figures and other details the city released for other Council members’ official-travel expenses since January 2007:
• Robin Cape: $238.36, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives Conference, Chapel Hill, N.C.; $2,312.45, National League of Cities Conference, New Orleans, La.; $2,041.96, Asheville Sisters Cities trip, Samur, France; $1,598.98, New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Los Angeles, Callif.; Climate Diet Conference, Atlanta, Ga., $150. Total for Cape: $6341.75.
• Bryan Freeborn: $1,889.95, Association for Commuter Transportation Conference, Seattle, Wash. Total for Freeborn: $1,889.95.
• Carl Mumpower: $1,030.90, “observing law-enforcement operations related to drug enforcement,” New York, N.Y. Total for Mumpower: $1,030.90.
Visit mountainx.com/xpressfiles to read the full text of Bellamy’s travel summary, along with a Dec. 31, 2007, e-mail in which she catalogued recent federal appropriations for Asheville-based projects and organizations.