Outgoing Mayor Bart Peterson and nine Democratic City-County Council members spent much of the past week in New Orleans at a conference of the National League of Cities.
Peterson is the association's president for this year, so he could hardly have backed out despite losing the Nov. 6 election.
Council member Rozelle Boyd, who has served more than 40 years on the council, is also a committee chair for the association. Otherwise, Boyd said, he would have canceled his plans after losing in the election.
Among the other council members, majority leader Lonnell "King Ro" Conley lost his bid for an at-large seat. Ron Gibson, another at-large councilman, gave his spot at the conference to Vernon Brown after he did not retain his seat.
The conference is designed to help city leaders hear the latest and best approaches to solving the problems they typically tackle.
Attendees also were invited to a Festival Louisiana party and a jazz cruise at sunset on the Mississippi River.
The council budgeted $37,500 for conference expenses this year, though the total might not reach that amount. Still, flight costs ranged from $238 to $457 and registration was at least $375 per person, while hotel rooms run about $200 per night for the four-day event. Not surprisingly, some Republicans view these events as junkets.
"I think he (Conley) should pay for it out of his own pocket," said Councilman Scott Schneider, who did not run for re-election. "It's astounding he expects taxpayers to pay the bill when he has 45 days left in office. It speaks volumes about why Democrats lost the council."
I wish the Star had published the complete list of the Democratic councilors who attended the National League of Cities annual conference. When I used to work for the Illinois legislature, everyone always wanted to attend the NCSL conference each summer, provided it was located at an attractive designation. A lot of legislators passed on the event when it was held in Indianapolis a few years ago. While there were always plenty of very helpful seminars to attend at the conference, too many of the attendees spent their time lining up lobbyists who flock to these events to pay for their next round of golf, dinner, lunch, boat cruise, trip to the casino, etc. You can bet these Democratic councilors were presented with many opportunities to visit the casinos and the French Quarter while they were in New Orleans.