Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How much did that China trip really cost? (And why the coyness?)

This morning's Tribune brought a frustrating headline: Lawmakers want regular paid vacations trade trips". The sub-headline said: "But convincing media, taxpayers that the foreign travel is worth the cost is a hard sell."

Just what was that cost? The Trib and the D-News routinely cite the pre-trip estimate, $36,000, but was that the actual cost? This question remains unanswered from last month's legislative "town meeting." During the online event, Voice of Utah submitted this Q that we thought would be easy to A:

(1) What is the final, actual (vs. estimated/budgeted) cost of the recent trip to China by selected legislators?

(2) Will we Utah taxpayers be expected to reciprocate by contributing toward a visit by Chinese legislators?
We then received a request to re-submit the question with a real name. Um...OK. Conservative blogger Alienated Wannabe got to submit one under his nom de plume, and the other question VoU asked was answered, so we weren't sure why this particular question triggered a "real name" request. We really did want the info, though, so we asked Ed Partridge from Part of the Plan to risk retaliation by submitting it under his name. (Aren't we nice?)

After that hassle, we thought the information would be provided. Nope. It's now been almost a month since the town meeting -- more than two months since the China trip -- and the question remains unanswered. So does our second one. According to a KUTV report, "[Utah] lawmakers say the Chinese government must have spent several hundred thousand dollars hosting them for tours, receptions and dinners." Will Utah taxpayers be expected to do the same if we receive a reciprocal visit?

These questions don't seem that hard. How about an answer? Especially since, from today's article, it sounds like Utah may soon become Boondoggle Central. Please don't make us submit a GRAMA request under Ed's name, too.


Part of the Plan said...

Mrs. Part of the Plan has started referring to me as VoU3.

Jesse Harris said...

There's really no excuse when some of these guys are accountants. I'll donate a 4-function calculator if it'll help.

Anonymous said...

Of course they want your name; you should have told them it was Trouble Utah.

Part of the Plan said...

Um, I don't want to weird you out or anything, but this entire post is reproduced in German, here:

Voice of Utah said...

Even the Germans want to know how much this trip cost! This is the biggest international scandal since China started making Lead-lined Barbie.

P.S. Ed: You are allowed to sue your spouse in Utah for intentional torts, such as defamation.

P.S. Anonymous: You've inspired us to request a legal name change to Voice O. Utah. We'll see if that works.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear PotP (VoU-3),

I don't know which is more cool, that some German took the time to reproduce this post, or that you take the time review German blogs. I can barely keep track of a few English ones, myself. You da man!


The Senate Site said...

Fair questions. We'll get you the numbers.

During the On-line Town Meeting we answered questions from several anonymous posters, including Alienated and you.

Here's the hiccup: Some legislators feel comfortable corresponding with anonymous bloggers. Others, on principle, refuse to do so. So. . . guess where your question was assigned.

I do appreciate Ed resubmitting the question. Once the meeting adjourned, most of the urgency and attention dissipated - but we would still like to respond to questions we didn't have time to address during the Site Visit.

We'll start with VoU3's tomorrow.

Alienated Wannabe said...


I appreciate having my question answered. Thank you very much!


VoU3 said...


I only knew about it because there was a trackback to VoU's link to my blog. Das tut mir aber leid, but I don't actually spend the day reading German blogs.


Thanks for keeping this issue open, and thanks for always being responsive to (if not supportive of) all us crazy lefties.

Voice of Utah said...

Yes, thanks Ric. Interesting about the anonyphobia. We might write something (nothing too mean) about anonymous blogging and political officials. It's an interesting issue.

Hey, Ed: What's a trackback?

Part of the Plan said...

When you enable trackback, whenever someone embeds a link to your site you get notified. I don't know how Blogger does it, but in Wordpress it shows up in your Technorati stats.

The Senate Site said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Senate Site said...

Crazy lefties? I had you pegged as skeptical independents. That's okay. I'll take old-fashioned patriotism wherever I can find it.

Part of the Plan said...


You can also configure your blog software to add trackbacks as a comment (I *think* that's what SLCSpin and One Utah do), but that can be utilized by spammers, so I stay away from it.

Jesse Harris said...

Trackback spam is no match for Spam Karma 2. Try it out sometime.

Part of the Plan said...

Just to follow-up on this, Senator Bramble has posted answers to the two questions.

Thanks again Ric for keeping this alive.