According to WDSU, “The City of New Orleans paid $16,571 to cover travel expenses for City employees including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Scott Hutcheson, Sarah Robertson, Rebecca Conwell and Emma Lynch Tyler.”
The purpose of the trip is to honor the 300 year birthday of the city.
Putting aside the optics, having been on civic trips of which I have paid my freight, I can attest that many of these are very informational, with schedules packed to account for every minute starting very early in the morning until late evening. Each trip is different, some with more time for leisure than others, but all are learning experiences.
And business does get done. Relationships are made between the visitors and the host city or country. Economic Development is the underlying value proposition.
Still, there is the optics thing. The public does not like when the President travels to Asia or to South Florida or when the Governor John Bel Edwards flies to Washington DC to participate in a panel focused upon criminal justice reforms. The Louisiana public did not like having to pay for Governor Bobby Jindal’s flights to DC for television appearances or paying for his police protection that amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, the question to ask is given the cost of time and money, can the city or (governing entity) publicly communicate, explain and justify the venture. That obligation is on the public officials to bear.
Below is the list of attendees which was obtained from the WDSU article.
Members of the delegation include:
• Mayor Mitch Landrieu, 2018 Tricentennial Commission, Co-Chair
• First Lady Cheryl Landrieu, 2018 Tricentennial Commission, Co-Chair
• District A Councilmember Susan Guidry
• District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey
• District E Councilmember James Gray
• Vincent Sciama, Consul General to France in Louisiana
• Rebecca Conwell, Senior Advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu for Economic Development
• Scott Hutcheson, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer & Senior Advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu for the Cultural Economy
• Quentin Messer, President & CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance
• David St. Etienne, Chairman of New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce
• Kelisha Garrett, Executive Director of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce
• Tara Hernandez, President of JCH Development & Greater New Orleans, Inc. Board Chairwoman
• Michelle Gobert, Greater New Orleans, Inc. Board Member
• Justin Augustine III, General Manager of the Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans and Vice President, TransDev
• Caitlin Cain, CEO, World Trade Center New Orleans
• Calvin Fayard
• Frances Fayard
• Senior Advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu & Director of Strategic Initiatives Sarah Robertson Miller
• **Emma Lynch Tyler traveled as a staff assistant to the delegation