If one were to choose a theme song for the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners — I know, but just stick with me for a minute — an apt nomination might be the Beach Boys' 1964 hit "I Get Around." That's because this five-member elected board certainly does get around. A lot, and mostly at taxpayer expense.
Commissioners have collectively taken more than 120 trips since 2010. One commissioner went on at least 11 taxpayer-paid trips in 2013 — to Washington, D.C. (three times), Long Beach, Omaha (twice), Detroit, Flagstaff, Fort Worth, Columbus and, closer to home, Keystone — eight of them in the first six months.
If you don't find those destinations particularly desirable, how about San Antonio, Reno, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boca Raton or New York City? The list goes on and on. To see a visual representation, check out a map of their travels, along with our cover story, starting here.
By the way, their expenses include hotels of the $250-per-night variety, food per diems of up to $70, and conference registration fees that approach $1,000 each.
All those trips, though, have been worth every penny, because they've given commissioners opportunities to learn new ways to create jobs, to elicit federal tax money, and to tackle age-old problems like homelessness. We have that on good authority — being that it comes from a county spokesman who, himself, has been on 36 taxpayer-funded trips since 2010.
Get around round round, I get around ...