The city council voted to remove six items from the list of claims to be approved, all relating to the use of travel funds that may not comply with a city ordinance.
City Councilwoman Connie Sellers said that after some research, three trips that would have been paid for by the city’s credit card do not seem to relate to city government matters.
According to the ordinance, any trips paid for by the city must “be directly related to the conduct of the city business.” Sellers said she was not sure the conferences fit this description.
Word got to Mayor Mike Moore before the end of the meeting that council members voted to remove these items, and he sent Sellers a text message expressing his disapproval.
“You have no idea how bad you’re going to look tomorrow morning,” the text message read. “If only you would communicate with me you wouldn’t have made [yourself look bad].”
Sellers said the communication should have come on Moore’s part.
“He should have come to the council and communicated with us and said, ‘This is what I want to do,’ and we could have dealt with it at that time,” Sellers said. “ ... I don’t know if that’s a threat or what that is, but I do not appreciate it.”
Moore requested two of these trips for conferences in St. Petersburg, Fla. and Washington D.C., totaling $805 and $825 respectively. Public Works Coordinator Rick Lovan requested about $590 for a one-day conference in Orlando.
Moore’s trip to St. Petersburg from April 9 to 12 is for the Fun in the Sunshine City: 2014 Society for Commercial Archeology Conference to “explore the fascinating roadside resources of Florida’s’ Gulf coast,” according to the society’s website.
Sellers read the conference’s agenda, which includes a papers symposium that addresses topics such as roadside attractions in other regions. The conference also includes bus tours to various roadside attractions, including a visit to downtown St. Petersburg.