As you head to the airport this afternoon or stand in line awaiting your pat down from friendly TSA agents, here's a timely question to ponder, one put to WW
by a reader recently: "Who approves elected leaders' junkets?"
, the answer is ... the elected leaders themselves.
In March, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission
successfully adopted new statewide rules clarifying when and how public officials can accept certain gifts of travel. These rules are a response to the controversy that surrounded some state lawmakers
after The Oregonian
reported on their trips to Hawaii on the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association's dime several years ago.
One component of the new statewide rules asked public officials in Oregon to create their own process for sanctioning business-related travel. On April 21, Portland's City Council approved an ordinance
by a 5-0 vote that lets the city's election officials continue to approve their own trips.
Between March 15, when the state rules went into effect, and April 21, when Portland enacted its own rules, the City that Works was subject to the state rules.
Does that mean if a commissioner took a trip during that period without a full vote of the City Council that he broke the rules? Well, no. On April 6, Mayor Sam Adams took a trip to Philadelphia paid for by the National League of Cities.
Yet the mayor broke no rules, and there are at least two reasons for that.
One, Adams agreed in February (when the old rules were in effect) to go on the trip, which cost the National League of Cities $1,625. Even though he took the trip in April, he was able to self-approve the trip in February.
Two, there's yet another important aspect of the travel rules. It says city officials are allowed to participate in trips funded by groups to which cities pay dues. (That includes the National League of Cities.)
There you go. Tune in again the day before Christmas and on New Year's Eve for more riveting answers to readers' questions.