Senators' lavish and indulgent travel spending is not normal or acceptable in business sector
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I am appalled.
In reading some of the first findings from the The Daily News' review of senators' travel documents - "some staying in $600 a night hotels for multiple days," "senators enjoy luxury hotels, expensive meals, room service and car services" - I need to know who is in charge of our Legislature's Travel Policy? Do they even know what a Travel Policy is?
Here's an explanation: A Travel Policy is put in place for most businesses where their employees are required to travel for business throughout the year. Guidelines and limits are generally established on hotels, meals, airfare and transportation. There are also guidelines for who gets to travel business class and who travels coach.
There are several ways of setting up your travel policy in conjunction with your guidelines, and you can set the approval process up automatically. When booking your travel on your company's preferred travel vendor website, restrictions are in place for hotel prices, car prices, airfare, etc. When you select an option that is over your allocated expense, your trip is then flagged and goes to the person in charge of approving anything over the allocated set price.
Hotel prices in Washington, D.C, and New York City are not inexpensive, but you can definitely find very good accommodations in the $300 or less range. In the rest of the country, your hotel expenses should be dropped to $180 to $200 maximum.
Your per diem for meals should be $75 maximum for the day. There should be absolutely no exceptions for personal dry cleaning. That's on your own. Room service is fine, as long as you do not go over your $75 per day.
None of the senators should be traveling business class. They should be required to purchase coach seats, and if they want to fly in business class, they can use personal upgrades or miles from their frequent flyer accounts.
With car rentals, your expenditure should be no more than $60 per day. Under no circumstances are personal car services, such as a private limo, to be expensed. Taxi cabs are okay.
No alcoholic beverages should be expensed, ever. In the V.I. Government's current economic crisis, this is a simple and normal business practice. It's just absolutely incomprehensible to me that this was, and is, allowed.
If there was a simple travel policy put in place and restrictions set up, we could have avoided tens of thousands of dollars - more like $ 1 million plus - in senators' travel-related costs. I know; I am in the travel business and have worked on a significant number of Travel Policies and worked as an enforcer for company compliance.
I can't tell you how angry I am that this wasted spending by senators is allowed.
- Gene Robinson, St. Thomas.