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Cerritos Commissioners Attend Lavish Miami ‘Sculpture Symposium’

Fine Arts Commission Plane

Cerritos Commissioners [l-r] Julietta Williams, Elaine Shiohama and Janet Beach attended the ‘Art Symposium’ in Miami, costing Cerritos taxpayers over $8,000. Doris Iglesias who also attended is not pictured. Graphic by HMG-CN.

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Hews Media Group-Community News has confirmed through a public records request that commissioners of the Cerritos Fine Arts and Historical Commission went on a lavish trip to Miami Florida, spending over $8,000 to attend the 2013 International Sculpture Symposium that took place between November 30 and December 4.

The commissioners who attended were Janet Beach, Doris Iglesias, Elaine Shiohama, and Julietta Williams. 

One commissioner, Nora Benzon, who is an appointee of Mayor Mark Pulido, choose not to attend.

The show was touted as “bringing together artists, collectors, curators and art enthusiasts for panel discussions, keynote addresses, optional tours, a reception, and a multi-day iron pour by the Iron Maidens, an international sculpture group.”

The four stayed at first-class accommodations paying an average of nearly $200 a night, racking up $3,200 in total accommodation fees.

One former commissioner who did not want to be identified commented, “the Cerritos City Council is constantly saying we have no money, we have no money, why are we sending commissioners, a group that meets every other month, on trips to Miami to look for artwork?”

A deeper review of the travel reports submitted by the four commissioners show that two of them paid a lower air fare cost of $382, while the other two commissioner’s air fares were dramatically higher at $651 and $743.

Further examination showed that the spouses of Williams and Iglesias attended and participated in various activities but the spouses only had to pay back the City partial costs of the trip.

Williams stayed five nights for a total of $900, but her spouse was only charged for one night at $180.

 Iglesias stayed for four nights for a total of $720, but her spouse was not charged.

 Beach, who represents City Councilman George Ray on the Commission, also had her $413 registration fee paid for as well as hotel room at $190.97 per night at the Hyatt Regency Miami. Beach also turned in receipts totaling $109.39 for meals.

 Shiohama, who represents Councilman Bruce Barrows on the Commission, also spent four nights at the Hyatt Regency Miami and had the same room rate as Beach, records show and also had taxi fares of $66 and meal expenses totaling $164.51.

 According to the City of Cerritos official website, the Commission main purpose is to “assist the City Council in administering the Art in Public Places Program.”

 Also stated as their priority, according to the website is for “creating a cultural legacy for future generations through the collection and exhibition of high-quality art pieces that reflect diverse styles, chronicling history through the collection of artifacts, documents and memorabilia that will acknowledge the past and creating programs and activities that will further these goals.”

 The commission has come under scrutiny by Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper in the past regarding travel practices.

 In August 2010, Councilmembers Carol Chen, Bruce Barrows, and former Councilman Jim Edwards took a trip with five Fine Arts and Historical Commissioners to visit the Loveland Sculpture Show in Colorado. Like this trip to Miami, travel and hotel fees totaled over $8,000 over just a three day period.

 During that trip to Loveland, the group dined at The Canyon Chophouse spending over $375, including $40 steaks, and $38 crab cakes. On 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.

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3 Responses to Cerritos Commissioners Attend Lavish Miami ‘Sculpture Symposium’

  1. In the Shadow of the Park Reply

    April 12, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I agree with Mr. McMahon, these travel junkets are a gross waste of city funds. I would like to suggest that the city council end all commission travel and also set limits on their own. Do council members really need to party in Vegas three times in one month? I think not!

    Let’s face it Cerritos, our streets are no longer paved with gold and the old cash cow is drying up.
    The city is a mess: the sidewalks are popped up all over town, tree trimming is almost non-existing and the streets are in disrepair.

    I would like to thank the newspaper for bringing this important topic forward and I encourage the Cerritos City Council to please step up, it’s time for action.

    • McMahon Reply

      April 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks for being in harmony (Shadow of the Park Writer)

      Council/staffers are addicted to fame from:
      • Parking Ordinance ( $400K budget)
      • Spring Festival: $15K
      • Halloween Haunt $15K.
      • Let Freedom Ring Festival: $65K
      • CCPA: red ink of $8M plus.
      • Loss of Big Box Staples found in Heartland of America (Loss of big Tax Incomes)
      • Military Sponsorships of NPO.

      Bittersweet RX Budget for our city, reduce the 650 staffers, reduce the P&R freebies, eliminate above red ink and get back to the basics. Why 15,000 residents choose to purchase real estate stock in Cerritos??? Cerritos was unique, master planned, park like garden environment. Time to reinvest in the PW infrastructure and tame the horticulture.

      cerritospublicworks.blogspot.com/

      Unequal-unproportionate Diversity in any city, creates social landscape of ethnic ghettoizing. Menopause Public Works is bring down the once sought after (Eye Candy) flavor which was most unique to vistas in Cerritos.

      This CCC does not know how to follow in the national footsteps of the Republicans nor the Democratic Protocols. Addiction to junkets and fame is strong under currant, which is not being worn well, by citywide tsunami of urban menopause.

      Thanks god for power of the press and the LCCN has continuously written about the good-bad-ugly backbones of our great city of Cerritos Chi-democracy.

      cerritospublicworks.blogspot.com/

  2. McMahon Reply

    April 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

    LCCN:

    Great read and about our local news to boot.

    Waste of tax payer’s money. Some of these appointees will be termed out shortly, so any knowledge from these junket trips, will be short lived for serving on the CFAC. Additionally, poss. conflict of interest for the Beach family, when one member sits on the CFAC, her son sits on the CPRC, we should not allow 2 members of any family, to serve on commissions, when the city has over 40,000 residents to elect.

    CFAC is sexist commission, as all 100% females, no males, no blonds, no youth, no handicap and the staffers servicing the commission is 100% females. Is this really Equal Opportunity per Obama-Reagan’s Civil Rights Movement???

    Shame on all 5 Council members, when council cries how broke Cerritos is, plus the city is trying to get residents to pay for removal and replanting new parkway trees, when the city has this much money for wasted junket trips. Hmmm, didn’t city just have a recognition dinner, to say thank you to all of the city volunteers. Red/Black ink is starting to run together, volunteers for this/that, plus all of the part time staffers who have no city benefits, but our budget is strong enough for junket trips!

    Really question the legality of Beaches trip, is it for the CFAC or is it for gaining another news article for her Republican City Newspaper, which she is affiliated with.

    This entire story reminds me back in the 70’s, when some of the Cer council members attended a wild city attended bash in Palm Springs, were intoxicated and involved in serious accident, which cost the city allot of money to cure the legalities of the accident and lifelong rehabbing of the injured councilpersons.

    Ask all commission appointees, why the cognito hiding, as commissioners are the eyes/ears to the elected council :
    • Public Email Address?
    • Public Phone Number?
    • Advertising on Chambers Name ID, appointee by which councilperson?

    Get real, Cerritos is just bedroom Community, Cerritos does not need to attend national or state events, as we are not recognized for anything more then bedroom community. Move the Sculpture Garden out to the intersection of 183rd and Bloomfield, so all can enjoy, from 360 degree view; as the present secret garden, serves little visual for the 40,000 residents/15,000 homes.

    In closing, all 40,000 Cer Residents, please do a drive by of the Shoemaker Gore Waterfall, on 91/Town Center, as aprox 1Million MV pass this horrid waterfall landscape, M/F. The declining condition of this waterfall monument, is inexcusable. City has no money to maintain and cultivate this TC Monument, but still has a healthy budget for national-statewide junket trips.

    40 Yr Cer. Resident.

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