In her two years in office, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy has taken nine trips to other cities for official business, according to a summary she prepared this week at the request of City Council member Carl Mumpower. In an e-mail written yesterday, Bellamy says those trips cost a total of $8,561, a sum she says was money well spent.
The travel expenses were a good investment, she asserts in the e-mail, 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 itemizes trips for other purposes, as well. For example, she reports that the city spent $1,267.08 on her trip to meet with Staples executives in order to urge the office-supply company to modify parts of its Merrimon Avenue store.
The full text of Bellamy’s e-mail, along with a Dec. 31, 2007, e-mail she wrote to summarize recent federal appropriations for Asheville-based projects and organizations, is reprinted below.
— Jon Elliston, managing editor
In a message dated 2/20/2008 9:00:53 AM Eastern Standard Time, MayorBellamy@ashevillenc.gov writes:
Councilman Mumpower (et al):
Thank you requesting the information on travel by council members. I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the results of my travel:
I have taken nine trips to represent the city to various conferences, including:
2008 US Conference of Mayors in Washington expense: 1403.65
2007 National Congress on Secure Communities sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security expense: 995.59
2007 Meeting with Staples Executives expense: 1267.08
2007 Gaston Chamber of Commerce Forum “Successful Partnerships among NC Larger Cities” expense: 106.43
2007 African American Leadership Conference expense: 1036.74
2007 Chamber of Commerce Legislative Visit expense: 14.00
2007 NC Metro Coalition Legislative Day expense: 314.84
2007 National League of Cities Conference expense: 1892.45
2007 US Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting expense: 1620.23
My total expenses were: 8651.01.
As you can see the majority of my trips were to Washington. 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.
I have enclosed an email that I sent to council at the end of the year that highlighted the results of some of my travels. Please see below. I would like to also say that I used my visits to assist in informing Sen. Dole about the City of Asheville’s use and needs for Community Development Block Grant funds. Sen. Dole has been our champion for the fund and she has acknowledged her appreciation for my informative visits.
During my visits with Senator Burr we focused our conversations on the adopted agenda as well as the need for additional federal agents for drug enforcement, Reid Center, transit funding and homeless issues. Sen. Burr has been instrumental in getting additional funding to address homelessness in Asheville (including the increase highlighted below and funding for the VA center and ABCCM). Funding for Reid Center is proposed, but not approved ($160,000).
Recently, Rep. Shuler made announcements about the additional support for Asheville Police Department that he worked on for the City of Asheville. I am happy to let you know that we talked about those issues during our visits while I was in Washington, and I reemphasized them in letters, phone calls and visits with his local staff.
The National Congress on Secure Communities was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. I was a panelist representing municipalities’ views. I discussed the need to protect our nation and provide cities with essential support to address essential issues, including funding to prepare for pandemics, emergencies and riots. As a result of my comments, I had a conference call yesterday from the office asking how can the Department assist Asheville and I was asked to co-host an event with Asa Hutchinson (from the department) in Washington on April 2nd.
Additionally, During the US Conference of Mayors conferences I attended the new mayors training as well as committee meetings that focused on Housing and Economic Development.
My trips to Raleigh afforded me the opportunity to lobby for additional support for our court system and transportation. I have attached a memo that I used to support my case for changes in legislation that was being proposed (See Attached). Through the work of the NC Metro Coalition of Mayors we have been able to help get Gang Legislation out committee (thanks in huge part to Sen. Nesbitt) and additional funding for the court system.
My trip to Gaston County was an opportunity for the mayors of the largest cities in North Carolina to discuss the issues that we are working on together – including Gang Legislation, Transportation and Court System.
In conclusion, I have invested my 8651.01 in travel dollars 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). I would like to add that this information only highlights some of my accomplishments and does not mention the scholarships I have received to attend other activities that have benefited the City of Asheville (in the email below I mention the success of a trip taken to Denver, which was paid for the sponsoring entity – Fannie Mae).
EMAIL THAT I SENT TO COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTING SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
From: Mayor Terry Bellamy
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2007 11:51 AM
To: ‘email@example.com’; Jan Davis; Holly Jones; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; Robin Cape; Brownie Newman; Carl Mumpower; ‘Billrussell@charter.net’; Bob Oast; Gary Jackson; Keisha Lipe; Jeff Richardson
Subject: Update on Federal support
Council and Staff:
As 2007 comes to a close, I want to give you a brief update on some federal issues that I have been working on for the City of Asheville.
In November, Amy Sawyer and I attended the “Under One Roof” Summit that was convened by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Philip Mangano, Melville Charitable Trust President Robert Hohler, and sponsored by Fannie Mae. It was an opportunity to highlight the work that is being done in our community to address chronic homelessness.
Mr. Mangano called me before the holidays to inform me that the city’s funding for housing and supportive service needs of homeless individuals and families has been increased from $688,000 to $957,000. I announced the increase during the dinner portion of the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event.
During the year, I have made several trips to Washington to attend conferences and meetings; while in Washington, I have met with each Senator and Congressman or their key staff members. Recently, Rep. Shuler informed me that he was able to get the following appropriations for the City of Asheville (there were others as well):
Over $90,000 to combat Meth in the City of Asheville for Asheville Police Department
Approximately $140,000 for the W.C. Reid Center for Creative Arts
Approximately $300,000 for additional replacement buses
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant:
Developing an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant has been a top priority of the US Conference of Mayors since the beginning of this year. As part of the work to get the block grant approved I worked with staff members of legislators (from down east and the piedmont) as well as Rep. Shuler to get their support of the block grant program. When H.R. 6 (The Energy Bill) was passed, the Block grant initiative was apart of the legislation. More information will be forth coming on this $10 billion dollar block grant commitment.
While this does not give the full details of all that was accomplished on the federal level, I did want to give you all a few highlights. I look forward to working with each of you in 2008.