As we all know, such frivolous programs as the Loudoun drug court, arts and cultural funding, the master gardeners and urban extension program, and other such frivolities axed by the all-Republican Board of Supervisors last year, are not “core functions of government.” That was the mantra the supervisors kept repeating in explaining their showy display of fiscal rectitude.
However, providing repeated free vacation trips for the Board’s chairman, Scott York (R-At Large, until they find him) is apparently a very core function.
Last year our well-traveled chairman took no fewer than five official foreign trips. Pretty good for a little-old county official.
York’s frequent flier program began in April, with ten days to Germany accompanied by major campaign contributor Bob Farren, owner of Loudoun’s very non-existent very-minor-league baseball franchise.
That was followed by a week in Taiwan (cost: $1,951.30) in May.
Then July, a lovely time to visit England, brought the chairman to England for a week (cost: $2,641.60).
In October, the chairman had to return to Taiwan for nine days.
Then, to wrap up the year, it was back to exciting Germany yet again, this time for two full weeks, in November and early December (total cost: $3,913.49).
One of the dodges York and his supporters have tried to use to explain away the cost is that at least some of these trips were paid for by “free” money, including “left over” campaign contributions, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, and the county’s Economic Development office.
But ethically run governments (and companies, for that matter) do not allow their employees to take bribes, which is exactly what it is when a company with business before local government lavishes free gifts upon elected officials. And money spent by Economic Development on the chairman’s junkets is money that is not available to spend on actually productive activities promoting tourism and investment in the county. The NVRC for its part gets its money from localities (and thus our tax dollars) . . . or from still other businesses trying to buy influence with those localities.
Maybe when this year’s budget deliberations begin, the chairman’s unnecessary travel to foreign locales will be on the table along with funding for the Loudoun Symphony, community mental health, drug treatment programs, the extension office, and other programs that benefit the people of the county, not just one jet-setting politician who seems to view public service as what he can get out of it.
Maybe we could even ask the voters which they would rather see their tax dollars used for?