Luna cancels planned trip to second conference for new officials

Mickie Solorio Luna

Days after a Free Lance story detailed 2015 travel expenditures incurred by Hollister Councilwoman Mickie Luna without council approval, she canceled plans for a second consecutive multi-day January trip to the League of California Cities conference in Sacramento designed specifically for newly elected officials, the city clerk confirmed.
The District 2 councilwoman, elected in November 2014, had booked her attendance and lodging costs for the New Mayors and Council Members Academy set for Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 of this year at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Sacramento. It would have been Luna’s second consecutive year of attendance at the initiation conference.
The league organization hosts the annual conference as a way to introduce newly elected municipal leaders on the “basic legal and practical framework in which city officials operate,” according to the organization’s website. It is standard for many newly elected officials to attend, including those from Hollister, while the league allows participation from veteran politicians as well.
The City of Hollister paid for Luna and Councilman Karson Klauer to attend the same Sacramento conference in January 2015 two months after their initial election into public office, though cost figures were not immediately available for last year’s event.
Luna in early November, through the city clerk’s office, again booked her $575 registration for the same league conference put on for new officials, according to email records obtained by the Free Lance.
On Dec. 29, days after the Free Lance published a story about Luna’s 2015 travel expenditures made without council approval, the city clerk’s office followed through on the councilwoman’s apparent text-message request to cancel the January conference in Sacramento, according to email records.
“Per your text message to me, I have requested this reservation for you be cancelled,” wrote Assistant City Clerk Christine Black in an email to Luna on Dec. 29.
The city will pay a $75 processing fee on the cancellation. The city clerk’s office also cancelled Luna’s lodging plans for the same event at a $169 nightly rate, according to Clerk Tom Graves, who responds to the city’s public records requests.
Her cancellation came after the story about her city-funded trips to that league conference, a Latino-advocacy water conference held in Palm Springs in March and a December municipal finance conference in the La Jolla area of San Diego.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilman Victor Gomez both expressed concern about Luna’s travels because those cost considerations never came before the full council. Velazquez and Gomez supported the idea of requiring council approval for overnight travel by council members, while there are travel budgets for individual departments as it relates to staff travel and training costs.
Luna did not immediately return a call or emails on the matter.

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