The big question, we would suppose, is: How did Greg Carswell think he’d get away with it?
Carswell, who has been Waynesboro’s mayor since April, seems to have chalked up a few out-of-the-ordinary expenses on the taxpayers’ dime.
According to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, Carswell used a city credit card to book a July trip to Philadelphia, where he told City Manager Jerry Coalson he was meeting a man about bringing a kids’ “fun center” to Waynesboro.
But the only “fun” that appears to have been generated from that trip was Carswell’s costly visit to the annual Deliverance Evangelistic Association Fellowship Conference in Philadelphia. Carwell is associate pastor of the Waynesboro Deliverance Evangelistic Church, which is affiliated with that church association.
The supposed original intent of the trip was a single visit to a businessman 67 miles from Philadelphia – and the guy didn’t even seem particularly interested in coming to Waynesboro.
Carswell billed the city $2,138 for airfare, a hotel stay, a car rental, per diems and tolls.
Maybe to save a bit of money, Carswell could have driven to Philadelphia. He could have used his converted police cruiser equipped with a high-speed interceptor engine and a GPS tracking device. Apparently, according to a report compiled by Coalson, the mayor’s been making numerous trips all over the region in that car, unrelated to city business.
The cruiser, the report said, led the city fleet both in mileage and in speeding violations.
The Waynesboro City Council voted 4-2 Monday to require Carswell to repay the city more than $4,000, and return his credit card and car. But the mayor insisted “there was no wrongdoing done.”
Well yes, actually, there was.
A citizen’s reasonable expectation from a city official is for that official to use city resources solely to conduct city business. And the citizens he served, we’d guess, didn’t sign off on Carswell attending a taxpayer-funded trip to a Philadelphia church conference, or on screaming around the countryside to heaven-knows-where in a city-owned, souped-up 2005 Ford Crown Victoria.
Fun? Perhaps. But it’s not the best example to set for prudent governance.
Carswell has been in office barely seven months. In his own bio on the city’s website, it says Carswell “didn’t run for any office or do his calling to be seen or make a name for himself, but to make a difference and help people achieve their dreams and reach their goals.”
As long as he can do all that without a fast car and a loose exepnse account, we wish him the best of luck.