Wayfaring Councilor’s Travel Expenses Called into Question at Redding Council Meeting

Redding City Councilman Gary Cadd’s taxpayer-funded wanderlust came under scrutiny Tuesday from a fellow council member who questioned the wisdom of traveling to Southern California conferences when his attendance was neither required or under the purview of his liaison assignments.

The freshman councilor spent $7,313 on city-funded travels during a 15-month period, compared with $3,090 for Mayor Rick Bosetti—about $1,000 of that figure will be reimbursed by the Northern California Power Agency—and $429 and $475 for council members Missy McArthur and Francie Sullivan, respectively.

Councilman Patrick Jones did not bill the city for any travel expenses during that period.  

Collectively, the council’s annual travel budget is $5,000, City Manager Kurt Starman said.

“Neither Mr. Cadd or I are running for election this year, so it’s a good time to bring it up,” McArthur said, before consulting her notes to list her concerns. Chief among them was Cadd’s decision to attend the fifth annual Investing in California’s Water conference in Century City, at a cost of $932, and the Integrated Regional Water Management conference in Sacramento at a cost of $375.

Cadd is not the council’s liaison on water issues; McArthur is. Given the city’s ongoing budget concerns, McArthur said it’s incumbent on council members to be prudent with travel expenses and to trust the city’s professional staff, including Public Works Director Brian Crane, to attend conferences, gather information and report back to the council. 

Cadd said he campaigned on the promise that he’d be a full-time council member and even if he lacks liaison responsibilities on issues like water and energy, he can still be involved. Water issues have been an interest of his for years, he added.

On his trips to Southern California, Cadd said he learned officials there are not anticipating any reductions in water usage over the next two years and plan on continued deliveries from the north.

He said Redding, by comparison, is looking at a 60 percent reduction in deliveries from the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Do we have to watch out for our water? You’re darn right we do,” Cadd said. 

“I know it’s a large amount (of travel expenses), but I’ve spent it on learning to better serve the people of Redding,” he added.

McArthur said she had no qualms about Cadd’s travels as the council liaison to the League of California Cities but suggested if he wants to attend out-of-town conferences simply because he’s interested, he should pay his own travel expenses. 

“Should the city pay if I have an interest in gold digging on the moon?” McArthur asked, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Cadd replied that he can’t afford to fund his own travel, but emphasized that he received approval from Starman and Crane in advance of all of his trips. 

Jones said commitments to his gun shop business don’t allow him enough time to travel, but he fully supported Cadd’s efforts and said he was disappointed to see him criticized.

“I’ve never seen somebody chastised for going to meetings. He’s the hardest-working council member I’ve ever seen. He seeks knowledge.”

Bosetti said the council’s travel budget probably needs to be bumped up, but even then, “there’s no way we can go to all the meetings available to us, even if they are in liaison area.”

Council members need to trust city staff to gather information from those meetings, Bosetti added. 

In lieu of having Starman draft a formal policy on council travel, the council agreed that the liaison responsibilities be spelled out for new council members. If council members want to attend functions outside of their liaison assignments, they should first seek approval from the council member who has that particular liaison assignment. Barring that approval, the council member should bring their request before the full council.

In other action Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 to approve an $85,000 lighting retrofit for the Sundial Bridge. Community Services Director Kim Niemer said the switch to LED lights is in response to Department of Fish and Wildlife concerns over the current lights to interfere with migrating salmon.

Not only can the LED lights be easily dimmed when required, Niemer said they are expected to pay for themselves within six years by using less energy and lasting longer than the current sodium lights. As a bonus, the LED lights can be programmed to produce different colors for community events like Think Pink and the upcoming Celebrate 10 events to celebrate the Sundial Bridge’s 10th anniversary.
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Ginny says:

    It Councilman Cadd want to pay for his trips for discovery, that is fine, but if I am not mistaken, he was supported by the Tea Party. They, I believe would not accept his explaination. I am not a member, but I do not accept such spending.

  2. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    During eight years as a Redding Planning Commissioner, I attended two hosted meetings. Both were League of California Cities, both valuable. One on traffic calming in Monterey gave ideas helpful to Redding, the other in Sacramento proved Redding is light years ahead of other places in using volunteers to help with City needs. Then the Planning Commission lost its travel budget because of cost concerns. The fact defies reason that a crusading fiscal conservative can proudly justify duplicated attendance in these times when police and fire people are understaffed, when parks are without needed maintenance and a host of other City projects go begging.

  3. Avatar Diane says:

    Here’s hoping Cadd does not become interested in Big League Dreams and we have to pay for season tickets to the SF Giants games.

  4. Uh, maybe he should get his travel expenses approved by the council BEFORE he gets his airline tickets?

  5. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Mr. Cadd “runs his own ship”.

  6. Avatar Ron says:

    Lol as some have missed he already consulted with Star man and Crane before heading out. If missy is worried why didn’t she go instead?

    I trust Cadd being more informed in water issues then Missy.

    This isn’t something you just sit on. You hit the water issue full force…

    On another note but it’s Ok to spend 85,000 for lights on salmon? Go figure. They survived this long and in fact had one of the best harvesting of the salmon. A while ago so I don’t buy the it hurts the salmon bs

  7. Avatar Karen C says:

    As a former City of Redding employee, I always had to get approval for any out of town traveling I did on behalf of City issues. Are City Council members not required to get approval for travel, plus the funds needed of the travel?

    As I recall, before I could make any plans at all, I had to provide where I was going, for what, where I would stay, for how long, and what my expenses would be. If I was given approval, I was on a food budget, and I must say that meals had to be well planned out for the day. Certainly, there was no extra money for dining in fancy restaurants.

  8. Avatar kirsten says:

    As stated in another venue: there is a first class article on the water issues available for free, I believe in the LA Times………….. wouldn’t that be a better use of funds?