Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Taxpayers foot bill for Ragsdale trists

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, after promising the taxpayers of Knox County greater fiscal accountability in their government, continues to overcharge taxpayers for trips and expenses that are arguably unnecessary. Apparently, Mike Ragsdale thinks that fiscal discipline within the Office of the Mayor of Knox County is good for the goose but not the gander.

Here we see the expense report for a trip that Mayor Ragsdale took to Nashville on August 21, 2007. In the report we find that the Mayor exceeded Knox County's reimbursement policy and charged the county $169 for a room for himself, while the Director of Neighborhoods charged the county $164. The reasoning behind this overcharging was that both said the Courtyard would not give them the standard $99 government rate. Knox County is only supposed to reimburse the standard rate. Why did Ragsdale have to stay at the Marriott, when there are so many other less expensive hotels in Nashville to choose from (I know that from firsthand experience)? I suppose those places weren't good enough for Mike Ragsdale and the Director of Neighborhoods-or whoever it was that Ragsdale was traveling with during his stay in the capital.

Next we examine an expense report for Mayor Ragsdale's staff "retreat" at the Dancing Bear Lodge. The money for this little excursion came from the so-called "hospitality fund" and the gang went to Townsend on August 1-2, 2006. Part of these expenses were paid by UT-Battelle at Oak Ridge National Labs with $1,000 in federal grant money. Under no circumstances was this money to be used for the purchase of alcohol. Mike Arms decided that everyone on the "retreat" needed plenty of wine with dinner, however. He and John Werner were reimbursed a combined $269.92 for the purchase of adult beverages for the Mayor's celebration at Dancing Bear-a party for which Knox County taxpayers have thus far fronted well over $1,300 because of the "shortfall" in the hospitality fund, while the Mayor stayed in a private cabin with hot tub and fireplace.

Trips to Nashville to speak at the "Minority Health Summit" that is completely unnecessary to the daily function of government while overcharging the taxpayers to boot for a hotel you didn't need to stay at and an aide you didn't need to bring along. Staff excursions to expensive lodges with the help of federal grant dollars. Perhaps we should all get jobs in Ragsdale's office so that we can abuse taxpayers' money for our own personal enjoyment with such reckless abandon-and get paid for doing it!

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