Call to Council Members, buy your own meals

At a time when city governments are telling us that they have to cut back on services because they don’t have the money, it’s funny that they have the money to buy dinners for council members.

Los Altos Council Steak Dinner
Los Altos City Council Steak Dinner

Los Altos, for instance, spends $130 to $150 before every meeting feeding its five council members. Receipts reviewed by the Post show some council members got steaks.

Meals are typically consumed during a closed-door session, which keeps this practice out of the public eye.

Palo Alto has been feeding its council members for years, but, stopped the practice about a year right after the dot-com bust.  The temporary suspension of council meals was a belt-tightening measure.

A year later, the food was back. Atherton and Menlo Park also provided free meals, so they typically ordered sandwiches or pizza, not steaks.

In Los Altos, however, council members are e-mailed menus before a meeting to pick what they want to eat.

When the Post first printed a story about these meals on March 29, the defense offered by the cities was that council members were coming to the meeting straight from their daytime jobs, and didn’t have time for dinner at home.

Palo Alto City Council Member Larry Klein
Palo Alto City Council Member Larry Klein

Palo Alto Councilman Larry Klein said he didn’t want council-members rushing through meetings because they’re hungry.

Why can’t council members pack a brown bag dinner, and bring it with them? Why should taxpayers pay for these meals?

This sets a bad example for city employees who have the ability to charge meals to the taxpayers in certain instances.

They’ll see it and think, “Why can’t I do that? The city’s got plenty of money.”

And it undermines the argument that our cities have cut their budgets to the bone when council members feast on T-bone steaks.

The Daily Post Opinion – Dave Price Editor:

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