On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council wrestled over the approval of allowing travel of Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock to attend the January League of California Cities Policy meetings.
The item was pulled from the consent calendar by Councilman Lamar Thorpe who explained the last time travel was discussed was when Councilwoman Monica Wilson—in Sept. the Council approved Wilson be allowed to travel at a cost of $1,869 to a National Strategy Meeting on Ending Human Trafficking in the Illicit Massage in Virginia. Thorpe stated he believe a policy was coming forward.
Mayor Sean Wright confirmed a policy was in the works which Mastay stated it would be coming before the council in February.
Thorpe then made a motion to table the item until February when they get the policy. That was seconded by Wilson who said she thought they were getting a policy.
According to the Staff Report prepared by Acting City Manager Nickie Mastay, the League of California Cities is hosting a series of events in 2020 which include events throughout the year in Sacramento, Anaheim, and San Francisco with an annual budget of $4,170 for two participants. For the Sacramento meeting, the cost is estimated at $591 per participant.
Councilwoman Ogorchock stated one did not have to do with the other which participation with the League of California Cities has been ongoing.
Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen stated the first meetings for policy in Sacramento begin on Jan 23-24 and this falls under the travel allowance which the estimates were on the “high side” but this needed approval. Ogorchock serves on the policy committee and first VP for Mayors and Councilmembers.
Motts said there needed to be equity in the process and a policy on travel.
“I know particular councilmembers have things that they find important to them, maybe other councilmembers to not think that is important, but nevertheless, there should be a policy that we have that is equitable and fair to everybody,” stated Motts.
She urged the council to approve the January 23-24 but hold off on future expenditures until there is a policy before the council in February.
Mayor Wright said a policy was coming forward to have a discussion around travel.
“League of California cities as I understand it is something we have participated in as a city forever,” stated Wright.
Thorpe interrupted the mayor stating he did not agree with it.
“We go to these policy meetings. I assume we set policy for the legislator priorities that we constantly lose on at Sacramento. We send people to participate in these conferences. I understand that, it doesn’t mean I agree with it,” said Thorpe. “This conference, the policy conference, start at 10:00 am in Sacramento and end at 3:00 pm and we are sending someone overnight. I used to work in Sacramento, every single day I’d leave at 7 o’clock get to work around 8:00-8:30 and then come back at 5 o’clock and we are sending someone overnight. They can travel up there and travel back. So, I think it deserves a more wholesome discussion with the policy if we are going to look at that.”
Thorpe stated if they want to allow sending Councilwoman Ogorchock to the January conference, he could re-make his motion should Councilmember Wilson be the second.
Wright asked Wilson if she would withdraw her second which Wilson stated she would but noted they really need a policy to come back.
“There has to be some equity because at the end of the day this is all about policy. The League of California Cites policy, cannabis policy, human trafficking policy,” stated Wilson. “How do we handle when council members are either being asked or requesting to go to policy meetings.”
Thorpe stated when he and Monica Wilson attended conferences, they brought back items such as cannabis and Tri Delta Transit with Tri My Ride but was critical of the League of California Cities.
“For the League, I have a difficult time wrapping my head around what we are bringing back. I get the educational component, I am having a difficult time that we constantly loose at Sacramento, that is not breaking news, not breaking news to anyone up here, but our legislative priority list that are developed from the policies conferences we are not having that much of an impact as it relates to the state legislator,” explained Thorpe.
Thorpe then remade his motion which passed unanimously which allows Ogorchock to travel to the League of California Cities.
In February, the Council is set to discuss a city council travel policy.