City councilor Kendra Hamilton may not join the trip to Italy “if her presence would overshadow the cultural and educational goals of the visit,” Seth Rosen writes in today’s Daily Progress. She’s ruled out spending her own money. Presumably that means that she’s not going since, as Bob Gibson makes clear in the Progress today, the junket has been thoroughly overshadowed. On the other hand, lacking clear goals for this trip, there may be no “cultural or educational goals” to worry about. So far it’s been explained both that the purpose of the trip is to establish a student exchange and, as Hamilton told NBC-29 yesterday, that it’s to “help local restaurants by working with people in the Italian marketplace.” Hamilton was less committal in talking to Gibson, to whom she said “maybe I’ll go and maybe I won’t” if her attendance were damage the trip’s nebulous goals.
School board chairman Alvin Edwards said Thursday that he’d be paying his own way, though not because of fiscal concerns, but “so no one gets bent out of shape over it.” Mayor David Brown is “definitely going,” and sees the problem being a lack of transparency, since there was no discussion about the trip at a city council meeting or any other public setting.
The city hasn’t been clear on the total cost of the trip, but it’s estimated to run $1,300 per person. The city has a long history of visiting our sister cities (former mayor Blake Caravati visited Besançon eight times in as many years), but the trips have been paid for from private funds. Italian is not taught in any city schools.