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Digging into the Mayor's Two Vacations
At the Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown | Photo by Huro Kitty via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Some people are a bit suspicious of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's last two vacations. The first, a trip to Africa, was right after his inauguration. The second was to Iceland, ending earlier this month. No matter who you are, you deserve a vacation, right? "Since the mayor is mayor 24-7, he does not accrue vacation or sick time," said spokesman Matt Szabo in an e-mail to LAist. "He has the discretion to take time away from the city as necessary."
But KTLA's Eric Spillman is not buying these vacations and has been poking around, seeing who's footing the bill. He found that the African trip cost $17,341.06, paid for by a the Washington-based foundation called The Academy of Achievement. Because Villaraigosa is most often found with an LAPD detail, even when he travels, Spillman also tried to find the cost of officers sent to Africa, if any. The police balked "citing concerns about the Mayor's safety if that dollar figure was released," wrote Spillman. We'd take a guess that actually means the money spent on LAPD was somewhere around $0.00. Announcing that the mayor will travel internationally without police protection would be a safety issue. That's just a guess, though.
As for the Iceland vacation, it seems some aspect of it was actually related to city business. Spillman's request for public documents turned up one, but the city will not release it, per California Public Records Act. "Specifically, the responsive public record is an exempt communition... given that it would reveal the Mayor's deliberative decions-making processes," explained Gabriel Sandoval, Deputy Counsel to the Mayor.
Sandavol continues to say "[the law] permits nondisclosure because the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweights the public interest served by its disclosure."
That's a little confusing, but definitely makes one more curious. Villaraigosa definitely deserves a vacation--we all do--and his time off for should be very much a "who cares" kind of moment. However, when a costly trip is paid for by an organization with connections to campaign donors with major development ties in Los Angeles, people are going to dig and dig hard, even if in the end the disputed facts are just coincidental and mean nothing.
Speaking of coincidences: TMZ last week got a shot of the mayor having some R&R at a topless pool in Las Vegas. "The mayor's recent trip to Vegas was not a vacation - he was there in his official capacity," said Szabo, who happens to be on vacation himself this week. That official capacity was speaking at a Clean Energy Summit. Girlfriend and reporter Lu Parker was there, too, but they kept it PG-13 which still had TMZ saying "Dude's pretty cool."