Spring is in the air, at least at City Hall, where officials and staffers are preparing to stretch their legs and hang out at conferences in far-flung locales.
The Board of Estimates has been busy approving a raft of travel plans for normally-office-bound bureaucrats in a half-dozen different states.
Today the spending panel OKed $4,267.60 in general funds so that City Solicitor George Nilson and an aide can fly to Anchorage, Alaska, between May 16-20 to attend a mid-year seminar of the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
Taxpayers will cover five days of hotel accommodations and food for Nilson and Matthew W. Nayden, chief of the litigation division, with any additional expenses (such as side trips to see glaciers or Sarah Palin) the responsibility of the lawyers.
Budget Director Andrew Kleine will be going the same week to Minneapolis for the 108th Annual Conference of the Government Finance Officers Association. More of a snooze but still pricey for taxpayers: slightly under $2,000.
A week before that, the director of Baltimore’s call center, Lisa Allen, is off to sunny San Antonio to attend CS Week, which describes itself as “the premier utility customer service conference.” The board approved $1,515 for her six-day trip.
Berke Attila, utility manager of rates and forecasts for the Bureau of Water and Wastewater, is bound for Charleston, SC, for a four-day seminar titled “Financial Management: Cost of Service Rate-Making.” The spending board approved $2,045.91 for that trip.
Ronda L. McCoy and Ariel S. Ervin, of the Police Department, will attend a conference on crimes against women in Dallas ($2,952), while Lori Toscano and Tywanna Taylor, of the Health Department, will jet to Denver for a conference on community-based violence prevention ($2,271.92).
Here’s some more trips approved by the board during its last two sessions:
• Melissa Grim and Rebecca Ebaugh, Recreation and Parks employees, will be attending a “Green School” sponsored by the National Recreation and Parks Association in Wheeling, WV, at a cost of $4,588.66.
• Margo Bruner, of the Department of Human Resources, going to an Employee Assistance Roundtable in Chicago in late April, at a cost of $1,065.
• Catherine Carey, of the Health Department, bound for Kansas City in May for a Training of Quality Leaders session, with the city paying $828.86.
• Rodrique Sumpter, of the Health Department, attending a conference on social work and HIV/AIDS in Denver in May, at a cost of $1,596.01.
Las Vegas in the Works
These trips do not include the annual sojourn of elected officials to Las Vegas to attend the Global Retail Real Estate Convention held by the International Council of Shopping Centers. This year the convention runs between May 18 and 20, but city officials often try to get in a few extra days in Vegas.
The event is keyed to demonstrate to developers and retailers that Baltimore is open for business, according to one official. Various exhibit booths are displayed at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Last year, 11 officials – led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young – flew to the convention, where they were joined by state officials and where Rawlings-Blake officiated at the wedding of lawyer-lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones and former Gov. Martin O’Malley aide Sean Malone.
In the past, the full cost of food, drink and lodging in “Sin City” was not disclosed in Board of Estimates travel requests. That’s because some of the expenses were funneled through the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC).