Repay city funds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 25, 2005

To the editor,

In violation of a City Council measure passed on March 28th council members Crenshaw, Leashore and Venter accepted taxpayer funds from the mayor for travel expenses.

The policy vote was necessary after the City Council spent all of their travel funds for the year ($40,000) in just six months!

It was voted that any further travel this year would be paid for not with

taxpayer money but by the individual council members.

Records show that

even though council members Crenshaw, Leashore and Venter voted against the measure it still passed.

Their willingness to accept this money defies established democratic process.

They must believe that if you didn’t vote

for it then it doesn’t apply to you.

If allowed to stand this action sets a dangerous precedent.

There have been accusations that the money to the three was payback for their blind backing of Mayor Perkins.

It’s now known that two other council members, not favorites of the Mayor, attended the same convention but paid their own travel expenses.

It’s also known that as of this writing Mayor Perkins has not offered to repay them for that expense.

This would re-enforce the allegations of corruption.

According to Selma Times Journal reports, other council members have called for Crenshaw, Leashore and Venter to repay the taxpayers’ funds by Oct. 1, 2005, or face possible legal action.

Crenshaw in her usual abrasive, arrogant manner responded, saying, “It was done then and it will be done again.”

The citizens of Ward 7 deserve better.

Repayment by Oct. 1 will end this issue.

However, I fear those involved

will continue to refuse and when this happens the call for an investigation

by the Alabama Ethics Commission will not only be justified but necessary to determine whether or not their actions were inappropriate.

Any blame for negative publicity caused by the Travelgate investigation should fall to those who not only created, but refused to end the controversy, that being council members Crenshaw, Leashore, Venter and Mayor Perkins.

In a separate but related issue, next year’s city budget includes a proposal

to raise the annual travel allowance by 25 percent, from $40,000 to $50,000.

I hope this means city revenue has increased by at least the same percentage.

If not, it’ll be interesting to see what city services are cut to satisfy our public servants’ travel appetite.

Benjamin Austin