Back in May I had this to say about the cost to taxpayers of our public pension officials jetting off to Honolulu for one of those conventions that industry groups routinely host as a money-maker for their coffers:
NCPERS is concerned that the public will see this Honolulu junket for what it is, and so attempts to arm its members with some disinformation to feed the taxpayers. For example, NCPERS claims the per-person cost to attend a conference in Honolulu instead of Orlando (note, another vacation spot as opposed to Des Moines or Grand Rapids) is only a couple hundreds bucks more at around $1,400 including airfare, ground transportation, lodging, food, and beverage. The idea is to pitch the Honolulu location as incidental to this most important event. Hawaii just isn't that much more expensive, according to the NCPERS propaganda. Yeah, right. The hotel bill alone for NCPERS 2007 is nearly $1,600, and that's if your public servant gets the cheapest discount-rate room sponsored by NCPERS at the Honolulu Hilton. Add on at least $70 for ground transportation, $300-$400 for food and drink, and the $595 admission fee into the conference, and the total tab is nearly double what NCPERS tells its members to report to the taxpayers.
So, NCPERS told it members to tell the public that the cost of the junket would be only $1,400. I figured the cost to be about $2,665. Yesterday, the Grand Rapids Press reported that the ten trustees from from local public employee pension boards who want to the NCPERS conference in Honolulu spent anywhere from $3,300 to $4,600 each to lollygag in Hawaii for a week on the taxpayers' dime. The total cost to you was $37,692 so that your public servants for network and share information with their colleagues across the country. (I wonder what the Internet is for then?)
However, Peggy Korzen, who went to Honolulu as one of the six representatives of Grand Rapids city employees pension fund, assures us that the taxpayers' money was well spent. That's because, according to the Press, she says, "I don't know that anybody was unhappy with the conference. I heard good comments from everyone who went." No kidding.