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Chen, Barrows, Edwards Travel Expenses Called Into Question

Many of the lavish trips were taken during Carol Chen’s term as Mayor.

By Brian Hews

A LCCN examination of 2009-2012 City Council travel documents shows Cerritos council-members Carol Chen and Bruce Barrows, along with Jim Edwards, reporting extremely questionable and expensive charges for travel, hotel fees, and dining costs.

In an era of economic collapse and belt tightening where the council-members were asking the unions not to take pay raises and cutting city positions, then Mayor Carol Chen, Councilman Bruce Barrows Councilman Jim Edwards were taking expensive, lavish trips and dining on Foie Gras and $62 steaks.

In two 2010 trips (January and March), the well-travelled Cerritos trio of elected officials set off to Washington DC and racked up more than $12,000 in hotel fees alone.

Edwards, Chen and Barrows dined at such high end places as the Prime Rib Restaurant spending over $600 on one dinner alone, city records obtained by LCCN confirmed. Among the charges were a $68 steak, a $42 prime rib, and over $65 in desserts.

During the same trip, the three also feasted on a $275 dinner at TenPenn, located on Pennsylvania Avenue and a $257 dinner at the Ocenaire, where one dish, a halibut and steak plate, cost $65.

See documents here.

In August 2010, Chen, Barrows, and Edwards, along with all five Fine Arts and Historical Commissioners traveled to the Loveland Sculpture Show in Colorado. Travel and hotel fees totaled over $8,000. The show’s website describes “thousands of art lovers and collectors from around the country and beyond, come together to enjoy and acquire the work of premier sculptors during this three-day outdoor sculpture show.”

They dined at The Canyon Chophouse spending over $375. Meals included $40 steaks, and $38 crab cakes. Another night they spent over $260 for dinner eating wild salmon and prime rib. Six other meals averaged $100 each.

See documents here.

In May of 2010, Chen, Barrows, and Edwards traveled to Las Vegas staying at the Aria. Receipts show a $348 dinner on May 23 and a $379 dinner on May 24. Meals included a $50 steak, a $54 mixed grill plate, three $40 filets and $18 French fries.

See documents here.

In 2011, when Carol Chen was Mayor, council-members took a total of ten trips.

In March, they again flew back to Washington D.C. and later traveled to Sacramento.

In May, Barrows went on four trips, one to Palm Springs and three to Las Vegas, with Chen attending two. In Palm Springs, staying at the Waldorf, they dined on Foie Gras, $40 crab legs, $26 dover sole, Ahi Tartar and $26 in desserts.

See documents here.

Further examination indicates no boundaries for spending on other items such as airfare and mileage.

Cerritos council-members receive a $400 per month car allowance. Yet in documents submitted by Chen and Barrows, both received reimbursement for mileage at a rate of .50 cents per mile when driving to San Diego, Santa Barbara, and other trips.

Further documents show a disregard for keeping other costs low. On several occasions, airfare to Sacramento cost the city over $420, with personnel booking the “anytime” fare on Southwest which is traditionally the highest rate. The city paid $410 for flights to Washington D.C. that same year.

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Mr. Cerritos
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Mr. Cerritos

Pertaining to my above comment I made, it has come to my attention that I have been corrected. Denise Grestner retired from her full time position in 2011 as City of Cerritos Finance Manager within the month of her retiring she was hired back by the City of Cerritos with a new classification, Finance Director, where she was able to make her own schedule. In 2012 Mrs. Grestner took a retirement lump sum for over $450,000 from CALPERS.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Do we know how much they spent locally on food? It would be interesting to know what they are spending on local businesses Versus out of city. Do they expect donations and discounts from our struggling businesses or are they even shopping here?

Mr.Cerritos
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Mr.Cerritos

Great job LCCN on exposing these greedy councilmembers. Again, the residents, the employees and visitors that come through the City of Cerritos deserve better. The City of Cerritos should be a model city, all this information of the City of Cerritos City Council and the City of Cerritos Management being fiscally irresponsible. Now, if you can expose how someone or someone’s can make a $17.1 million error to the budget and no one be held accountable. How about asking the city manager, and the finance manager who will be accountable. The Finance Manager Denise Grestner retired from her full time… Read more »

Nancy N.
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Nancy N.

I agree with Truth, these council members have become “BLIMPS” on our bucks or I should say on our BIG bucks. Obviously,these chosen few are flying high,eating like hogs and sleeping in the finest five star hotels. We the stupid tax payers need to wake up,it’s time to say enough is enough!
Be careful who you vote for this March election.

Jay Gray
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Jay Gray

Mayor Edward will leave next month with lifetime benefits and it seems lots of travel mileage and obviously fine dining under his belt. Yet, he’s leaving Cerritos residents a Performing Arts Center that runs nearly $6 Million in the red each year and a Magnolia Power Plant that runs nearly $3 Million in the red.

Jim Edwards’s legacy to Cerritos, after 8-years on council, isn’t the 1st CEB. His legacy is the close to $70 Million dollars in losses by just two programs — the Performing Arts Center and the Magnolia Power Plant.

McMahon, J.
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Comment By: Jim McMahon, 37 Yr Resident. My opine; lack of participation by the residents and for over usage of voting the racial card, has SELF SEEDED our city with the over flow of BELL POLITICS. If the city was truly diversified by globals and HEARTLAND OF AMERICA, the residents would be more aware of this abuse by power & SELF POLICE by recall and voting by integrity ethics and not by unions or race. Not surprised at all, as many factors to blame, as these built in ((QUESTIONABLE PERKS)0 have been haunting the books, for more then 40 yrs… Read more »

Richard S.
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Richard S.

I agree with your comments concerning the budget. It is difficult to read and understand. Hopefully you can pick up on the subject of the COW bus line. It runs empty 99 percent of the time and we are wasting revenue supporting this sacred cow. The revenue comes from Cerritos share of LA County propositions A, C, & R. There are other options to spend these dollars.

McMahon, J.
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Reply | Richard S. From| McMahon | 37 yr resident | Subject | Menopause 90703 Public Transportation | Forums | Blank Binder Agenda| hmg.theserver.me/loscerritosnews/2013/02/08/chen-barrows-edwards-enjoying-lavish-travel-at-taxpayers-expense/ Budget is incognito, for PHD accounting hieroglyphics, …… not user friendly nor understandable. Hell, for the past (4) yrs, still waiting for 90703 Protocol Manual, before more staffers retire and more councilpersons die off!!!!!!!! City transportation is under study, as they had an advertised hearing at the Library for input. Chen requested public input, as I replied under LCCN/ archives | On-line | Home Deliveries. Jan 13, CCC hearing, were blasted by residents in the below… Read more »

The Truth
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The Truth

…Among the charges were a $68 Kobe Beef steak, a $42 prime rib, and over $65 in desserts…

No wonder Chen, Barrows and Edwards have gained so much fat during the past couple of years. It all MAKES SENSE NOW!

I wonder if the District Attorney can launch an investigation into this? Didn’t some city officials up in the SG Valley get arrested a couple of months ago for misusing city travel policy?

Jay Gray
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Jay Gray

I noticed one receipt had written on it what looked like “OLDA,” were these council members doing OLDA/Maglev business on the city dime?

Also, any information on council members using city credit cards for campaign expense? Sometime back a resident had told me they were asking to see receipts.

Jay Gray
Guest
Jay Gray

Interesting…. I thought Kobe beef was illegal for import into the US between 2010-2012?