|Meeting's cancelled? Good, it won't get in the way of our feast!|
A couple of years ago, there was widespread anger among many Laredoans when the Laredo Morning Times revealed just how much money the city council was spending for food during its meetings. One particular example highlights just how arrogant and unconcerned they can be with our money. This was when a regular-scheduled council meeting was cancelled due to an error in the notice posting. This fact did not keep the Mayor and council from showing up to scarf hundreds of dollars of food compliments of Laredo's taxpayers.
I think it's time to, once again, take a peek behind the closed doors at city hall and see what kind of feasting is going up on our dime. Pro8news and/or LMT should give us an update as part of their commitment to our community. In the meantime, I offer for your enjoyment, some excerpts from a story that first appeared on the Laredo Morning Times back on July 20th, 2008.
From the Laredo Morning Times archives
by Ashley Richards
For each meeting, city staff orders lunch or dinner for the mayor, eight council members, four city managers and sometimes the city attorney. Two to three extra meals are also ordered in case there are guests, such as a visiting attorney joining an executive session discussion.I really don't recall if that "limit" was ever set. If it was, is it still in effect, or are the high-rollers back?
On the high end, a meal served at a City Council meeting in the past year cost about $575, which included prime rib from Embassy Suites with all the trimmings and two key lime pies for dessert. The cheapest meal from June through June was a $116 tab from Chick-Fil-A for chicken nuggets and brownies for dessert.
On at least 14 occasions, dessert was ordered separate from the hot meal orders, totaling $684 worth of cakes, pies and cookies from local bakeries.
At the Jan. 28 City Council meeting, the menu was made up of parrilladas from Palenque Grill for appetizers ($123.99), prime rib from Embassy Suites ($350.02) and dessert from Cakeland ($34.99). Although City Council was served a $509 meal, the meeting was cancelled because the agenda was posted incorrectly.
In May, City Council convened for a brief noon meeting and then recessed and reconvened at 5:30 p.m. for a meeting at which the new police chief was announced. During both meetings council and management were served hundreds of dollars worth of food. At the noon session, burgers from Fuddruckers cost $205, and in the evening, Monte Carlo catered to the council, bringing a $350 tab for dinner and dessert.
Three days later, council met for about 10 minutes to canvass the May 10 election votes and was again served food from Monte Carlo for $325.
We’re going to start reassessing what a limit might be as far as meals,” Villarreal said, adding Deputy City Manager Cynthia Collazo has been assigned to oversee the orders. Villarreal preliminarily suggested a $200 to $225 cap on the food order.“I’m not looking forward to a City Council meeting so I can eat,” Villarreal said. “We’ll establish a limit.”