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Inconvenient Cab Ride
PORT ARTHUR - By Justin Hinton, KFDM News
KFDM News has uncovered two trips to National League of Cities conferences made by a Port Arthur councilman that costs taxpayers more than $6,000 including a $230 cab ride from Houston to Port Arthur.
The National League of Cities hosts two conferences every year the Congressional City conference and the Congress of Cities conference.
One allows councilmembers to learn what legislation will affect their cities and in turn lobby their congressional representative. The other prepares them with ideas to better serve their city.
Councilman Willie Bae Lewis says the trips are justified because they serve educational purposes, and he can bring back new developments to the city.
Lewis also said he does not consider the cost when making trips.
Council has a budget that's approved for training, for continuous education. That is approved at the budget time, he said.
As far as the $230 cab ride, he blames the mayors office for failing to schedule it.
According to documents KFDM News has obtained, in Nov. 2013, the mayors secretary scheduled the trip, which included a shuttle bus from Houston to Beaumont.
I waited three hours, looking for a shuttle making phone calls. No one answered, so I made a decision to get a cab.
According to a spokesperson for United Airlines, the company the bus was booked through, the bus was not overbooked and it departed on time.
It is unclear why the bus was not there when Lewis arrived in Houston, though his decision cost taxpayers an additional $230.
He said he chose to take a taxi rather than rent a car because it would have been more expensive.
That would be believable if you were probably one or two years old, said Mayor Deloris Prince, but as an adult, we know better than that. It probably would have cost him $50 to rent a car and he knows that. It would have cost probably $50.
KFDM News checked with several car rental agencies at the airport and found a vehicle through Hertz, Budget and Avis all companies with locations at Jack Brooks Regional Airport, where the councilman was scheduled to end his trip.
The vehicle at Hertz cost $125.60
The vehicle at Budget cost $83.30.
The vehicle at Avis cost $87.84.
Those estimates could change depending on availability but were significantly less than the $230 spent on cab fare.
It's easy to blame people when you do things that you should not do. It really and truly is, but this man does not take responsibility for his own actions, said Prince.