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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.

  • Jay Gray says:

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

  • Jay Gray says:

    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.

  • The Truth says:

    …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?

  • McMahon, J. says:

    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 in Cerritos Disneyland Government. These come to mind after readying this great article by LCCN:

    • Greedy Elected-appointed.
    • Public would be shocked of all the} VOUCHERS-REBATES-SHADOW SALES DISCOUNTS-PRIVATE LOANS the CCC has received over the past 4 decades, to pimp the (3) Cerritos Malls.
    • Lack of in house Management by staff.
    • Story does not tell about all of the bed swamping / room sharing & pillow talking.
    • Disconnect between the Voters voice and the Council Sessions.
    • Poor CCC attendance by the 15,000 Cerritos Home and the 42,000 residents who live here and have to suffer services, because the City’s general funds are being drained.
    • Non searchable cities PDF on line.
    • Cities Budget is not user friendly, as accounting is carried over between budget items to demonstrate the low numbers and not the real numbers…..very clever way of non- transparency & spooking the public in to reading false accounting tables.
    • Ghost accounts by Accumulation of Traveling Points- Memberships.
    • Majority of this abuse started by former Mayors: Alex Benum and Berry Rabbit charades in the Desert; which BTW is still draining our reserves & created a divorce.
    • Story does not tell all of the indirect benefits and perks from vendors, passed on to many council persons personal life and shadow rebates to staffers home lifestyles.
    • Abuse of 2 term limit and returning for re-election.
    • Illegal usage of city owned equipment, taken abroad and used for personal gains with out consent.
    • European Trip to educate the council person and his spouse.
    • Rental clothes and supplemental spouse perks.
    • Does not talk about the drug bust inside City managers chambers.
    • Does not talk about the staffers/sheriffs accidents and casualty claims.
    • Lot of this is the result of the 2-3 hrs passing of the budget publically; as the annual budget needs to be publically gone thru line by line, over days, not hrs. Invite the CCC to re define the over usage of the word: (EXTENSIVE REVIEW).
    //JM 2/08/13

    • Richard S. says:

      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. says:

        Reply | Richard S.
        From| McMahon | 37 yr resident |
        Subject | Menopause 90703 Public Transportation | Forums | Blank Binder Agenda|


        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 industry standards of our transpiration system, survived by life supports.

        R Lopez: AMP | [email protected] | 90703 Homegrown |
        • COW- ghost riders.
        • OCRTA;
        • Dial-a-ride;
        • Taxis;
        • Tier level public transportation outside the city boundaries.
        • Bus stops/ benches.
        • Poor illumination at bus stops.
        • No kiosks to outlining transport loops;
        • Abortion of the beach transportation- OC Amusement Park;
        • No link to OC-SD metro rails lines.
        • Limited car pooling staging.
        • Illegal street parking for commuter bus vans for carpooling.
        • No Bus depot at LCC, instead staging is dangerously on 183rd, in face of Carol Chen’s Property.

        Also, ( PARK & RECREATION) is having a series of transportation info and routing info, as under stand it is free. PLEASE SEE SENIOR WEB SITE.

        Sherrie Titus | DPR | [email protected] | 90703 Homegrown |

        ►►►►CCC: Thurs. 02/14/13

        Only one (1) item on agenda, great time to address council, as have all nite to talk. Shame that CCC get paid for attendance and a | steak| Lobster Dinner | when the agenda is smallest in History………………..Hear are some public suggestion (s) to address the council:
        1. Public Transportation.
        2. Annual Budget is due: May ’13, Finalized Jun 30, 2013.
        3. Magnolia Power Plant Red Ink.
        4. CCPA Red Ink
        5. Sheriff Department adsorbent budget
        6. LCM-TC contributing to Sheriff Budget
        7. Del Amo Bridge Retro
        8. Poor Shoemaker Gore Waterfalls Mess.
        9. Seniors Commission.
        10. Re Run of past CWP winners from 2000 forward, to stimulate residents to spend money on their properties.
        11. Brief update of the dearth of Joint Venture via cpa |Vacant MUSEUM | Vacant WAREHOUSES| Vacant HOTEL PAD |
        12. Public Vote of Overnight Parking.
        13. Breached citywide Public Works.

        ►►►►Candidates Forum | Mon. 02/11/13 at 7pm

        90703 Council Chambers, by La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). All forums are open to the public. ……………..

        *****SURE WISH WE COULD TEXT | OR SEND EMAIL MESSAGE | OR USAGE OF Questions |via Smart Phone |***

        (With 48% of city is senior populous, not all can nite drive or afford to drive)

        //jm 2/10/13

  • Jay Gray says:

    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.

  • Nancy N. says:

    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.

  • Mr.Cerritos says:

    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 position in 2010 and got hired back by the City of Cerritos within the same month for part time Finance Manager. In 2011 she took her retirement pay from CalPers and she continues to work part time (making her own work schedule).

  • Cynthia says:

    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 says:

    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.