Local News

WRAL Viewers Send E-mail Expressing Feelings Over Hawaii Trip

Posted June 21, 2005

— E-mail poured into WRAL from viewers who cannot believe nearly 200 county officials across North Carolina are taking a business trip to Hawaii in July at taxpayers' expense.

Eight county officials from Wake County are part of the 189 headed to Honolulu to attend the National Conference of County Commissioners. The conference will cost taxpayers approximately $16,000.

Commissioners say attending the conference will help them do their job and work on issues such as Medicaid, transportation and growth.

One viewer wrote that while the money may be a small amount compared to the total county budget, it is the drops that make up the water in the bucket.

Gregg, from Raleigh, writes in an e-mail: "What kind of gobbledygook is that?"

As for the seminars the commissioners attend, Laura, from Cary, adds: "If our commissioners don't know this stuff already, why are they commissioners?"

The common theme from most people who complained is that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

"I find it difficult to see the wasted money on the trip to Hawaii when we're in desperate need of money for programs for the schools," a Wake County School teacher writes.

Finally, Jason, who refers to himself as a taxpayer for 19 years in Wake County, says: "I can't believe these people think that I voted them into office so that they could have a vacation in Hawaii."

Joe Bryan, one of the commissioners going to Hawaii, told WRAL that whether the conference is in Hawaii or Maryland, the registration fee and hotel fees are about the same.

The only thing that changes is the cost of airfare, he said. That is why he is paying his own way -- something he said he chose to do prior to WRAL reporting the issue. On Tuesday, Bryant said he would also be paying for his own hotel room while at the conference.

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