Question of the Week: Require council OK for overnight travel?

An airplane waits for passenger at the Hollister Municipal Airport.

Panelists answered the following: Should Hollister mandate council approval for overnight travel to conventions?
Ruth Erickson: Whether they are city employees, administration or city council members, all are answerable to the public for transparency as to how public funds are spent on out of-town meetings, conventions or any other expenses.  
Mary Zanger: Yes. Mandated approval should happen. Something else should be mandated for the good of the city. City employees should be mandated to shop downtown and support all the downtown businesses. For example, they should buy from the downtown bakery rather than from the Nob Hill or Safeway bakeries. They should buy local San Benito County products at stores like San Benito Bene for gift giving rather than stuff from China at Target. If all city employees patronized downtown stores we would all enjoy a more vibrant city.
Bill Mifsud: Yes. As a taxpayer everyone should be accountable. I don’t think it is intrusive and keeps everyone on the up and up. As a public figure this is what you signed up for and being in the public eye requires you to submit to checks and balances. 
Nants Foley: In my professional life I have worn many hats: Architect, teacher, Realtor. I have attended conferences in each of these industries. Some have been highly beneficial, some have been a complete waste of my time and money. I believe if the conventions provide ongoing education and training which will directly benefit the city, Hollister should foot the bill. But there should be some oversight when evaluating the conventions/conferences. Taxpayer money should not be used for boondoggles. Do you think it is telling people are ready to go when someone else pays but unwilling to use their own funds for the opportunity to attend? 
Cesar Flores: No! I believe that that the division heads have enough authority to approve travel and expenses for their employees.  
Keith Snow: I feel like us city citizen and our taxpayer should not go for that. I feel like they should not get a free ride. 
Richard Herrera: No, but I recommend the city have budgets and rules for each department.

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