By: Diane Benjamin
We have no idea how many people went on the Japan trip. We’ve heard numbers as low as 19 to over 35. The names of those on this trip have not been produced under FOIA.
We have no idea who paid and what the total cost was – other than the bills I’ve found so far amounting to over $105,000. https://blnnews.com/2017/08/08/ready-to-be-outraged/
One of my FOIA requests was for reimbursements made to the City. The only one pertaining to Japan was the check for the flight from Margot Ehrlich. That tells me none of the other expenses listed were paid for by the people on the trip.
Sister Cities is both a non-profit and a Committee under the City Bloomington. They don’t file tax returns and it appears all their money goes through the City. I FOIA’d a detailed general ledger of all Sister City accounts this morning. Then it will probably take another month to get information of those transactions after the City extends the 5 days to respond.
This is why a State Police investigation needs to happen now. A lot of money is involved and the City makes information available only when they feel like it. We need to know who the City paid for and what legitimate public purpose the spending served. What happened to foreign exchange students? Now taking possibly dozens of people to a minor milestone (55 years) will somehow benefit the 78,000 people in Bloomington? Maybe they are counting the free vacation for those who went!
I do know a farewell party was held at Lucca Grill and paid for on a City PCard. Note the tip given – it’s easy to be generous when the money isn’t yours:
This email was also received:
What possible “public purpose” was served?
How is anything Sister Cities does anything more than travel junkets at taxpayer expense? Is Tari going to Russia to collude next?