Trips by Top Baltimore Water Officials Not Limited to Chief
Updated: Thursday, September 5 2013, 10:01 PM EDT
Buried in the details of a routine vote at the weekly board of estimates in Baltimore to approve spending was pricey city-funded travel by Water Bureau executives.
More than $5,000 in grants to send Water Bureau Chief Rudolph Chow and another employee to attend two conferences in Chicago and Long Beach Calif. were billed as an opportunity to learn about improving the city's water system. It was the fifth such trip for Chow in under a year.
But approval of Chow's travel itinerary tells only part of the story. That's because top officials have taken at least 14 trips since 2012, details uncovered by FOX45 in expense reports obtained through a public information act. The request found roughly $50,000 spent over the past year – and half to fund travel – so Water Bureau employees could crisscross the country.
The running tab includes pricey destinations such as Orlando and Tampa, Fla. and over $5,000 for a trip to New Orleans. Water employees also jetted to Chicago, Sacramento, Virginia and on a $5,000 trip to Dallas. This travel is now prompting questions from city leaders concerned about the timing for an agency that's recently been under fire.
FOX45 asked Chief Chow why those trips were necessary. He says the travel doesn't mean he's not focusing on the work that needs to be done at home.
"We've done some fantastic things here but we've been basically doing them behind closed doors, and this is the way to go out and promote," Chow said.