Originally created 08/04/06

Want to visit Chicago?

So you're wilting in the Augusta heat. Say someone comes up to you and gives you and four of your friends $10,000. What would you do?

You'd leave town for someplace cooler.

That's just what five Augusta commissioners are doing. Today marks the start of the annual meeting of the National Association of Counties in Chicago, and commissioners Betty Beard, Keith Brown, J.R. Hatney, Calvin Holland and Marion Williams are headed there. If you need to get in touch with them, they'll be at the opulent and historic Palmer House Hilton.

When we first heard about this year's trip, we welcomed the news. After all, the commissioners' jaunt to a posh Hawaiian resort last year for the same conference provided days' worth of rich editorial fodder.

But a split-second later, we recognized the trip for the bad idea it is. Do five commissioners from an already cash-strapped city really need to spend $10,550.45 the city doesn't have to attend a meeting that offers no guarantee of yielding benefits for rank-and-file Augustans?

The commissioners who went to Hawaii last year have stressed that they weren't just sitting by the hotel pool sipping mai tais. But they might as well have been. Can they name one tangible thing or one nugget of newfound knowledge acquired on that trip that has somehow made Augusta a better place to live?

This year's convention includes an educational session titled "Creative Approaches to Balancing Budgets." Since they're spending taxpayers' money on this trip, our commissioners should take detailed notes during that session.


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