I applaud Councilman Rashid Burney for his decision not to attend the League Convention in November. It is not a good use of taxpayers money for an outgoing elected official to spend city dollars in such a way. This should hold true for the Board of Education, the PMUA and the Housing Authority, each of which sends elected and appointed people to conventions on the taxpayers dime. When I was on the Board of Education, I argued for the same approach to be made policy but did so in vain. It is on the to do list of the City Council's Finance Committee. The only thing one official can do for certain is to set the good example as Burney does.
I want to make sure there is not a misperception on the cost of the League of Municipalities Convention. Rashid mentions saving $1500. The cost for Council members to attend is more like $400. That assumes the costs are limited to registration ($60), two nights for the hotel (at $140 per night) plus gas and tolls. I do not believe that Plainfield Council members are requesting reimbursements for food and drink. There was one unfortunate exception in the past but that person is no longer on the Council. And when that came to the attention of the Council, we refused to make the reimbursement.
As for getting the most from the convention, Rashid makes good points. I only need to add that every sitting Council member I have attended the League convention with has been an active attendee at sessions and networking events. I agree with Rashid that the convention sessions are very helpful.
I plan to attend for one day as I did last year. Last year I did not stay overnight. This year I am still undecided but if I do, it will be for one night only. I promise to share through my blog what I learn from the 2010 convention and hope to implement.