Council, School Board Criticized for Tuscan Junket

Further to recent discussion on the topic here, Barney Breen-Portnoy writes in the Daily Progress about five city officials’ planned six-day trip to Tuscany at taxpayer expense. School superintendent Rosa Atkins, associate superintendent Gertrude Ivory, school board chairman Alvin Edwards, mayor David Brown and councilor Kendra Hamilton will all be visiting sister city Poggio a Caiano beginning next Wednesday, ostensibly “to explore the possibility of reestablishing a student exchange program.” The three school officials’ costs will be covered by the school system, and the two councilors’ costs will be covered by the city.

School board member Charlie Kollmansperger was the first school board member to criticize this use of public funds: “This is ridiculous. If I were a teacher, I would say, ‘Are you kidding me?'” This is probably going to be a common sentiment.

Brown and Edwards are both up for reelection on Tuesday — the day before the trip — and next month will be Hamilton’s last in office. Edwards has come under fire for his strong defense of a CHS teacher turned convicted pedophile, a pretty sketchy role for the school board chair, but his strong support among black voters makes it unlikely that the Democrat has anything to worry about next week. Brown was the lowest vote-getter at the Democratic convention in June, which is certainly unusual for an incumbent (and mayor, at that), so he may well have cause to move into damage control mode, given the two independent candidates in the council race. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a last-minute issue in either the school board or council races.

10:05pm Update: WINA reports on their utterly unlinkable website that Edwards has caved and agreed to pay his own way.

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