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Many of the lavish trips were taken during Carol Chen’s term as Mayor.
By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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