A sham is a sham | AspenTimes.com

A sham is a sham

Dear Editor:

How sad. No one intended for our local Sister Cities program to be disparaged by the recent “Eurogate” scandal over mayor Mick’s controversial expense reimbursement request for a European vacation under the guise of an official Sister Cities trip. When the story broke, I personally spoke with local Sister Cities chapter president Don Sheeley, who confirmed that Mick’s trip was not an “official” one.

Now, however, a local columnist has deemed the Sister Cities program a “sham,” and Sheeley is backpedaling and telling a new story. He now reveals that his organization “arranged” the mayor’s trip and defends Mick’s fraudulent reimbursement due to the schedule: “eight- to 10-hour flight, eight-hour time difference, meeting with the mayor, council members, school officials and citizens in each town, starting around dawn and retiring at midnight for seven days.”

Sadly, Mick’s trip was in violation of Sister Cities’ own rules and policies, one of which emphatically states that Sister Cities does not endorse individual visits by elected officials between cities. Besides, Mick did not get council preauthorization for the expenditure of taxpayer funds for any aspect of his vacation, likely knowing that such a request would unveil the “unofficial” nature of his planned Sister Cities visits and threaten his opulent itinerary. He knew what he was doing.

I don’t think anyone would care if Mick visited a Sister City or two while on personal vacation, but for him to be fêted and showered with gifts (he is attempting to charge the city $50 for a box in which he brought home said goodies) as though he were on official business and then turning in an expense report is egregious.

Our local Sister Cities program either knowingly broke its own rules and supported Mick’s attempt to defraud local taxpayers by “arranging” his schedule, or they were naively cajoled by our wily mayor in his attempt to justify the $2,418 reimbursement he is seeking. In either case, they were complicit in “Euro-Gate.” Sounds like a sham to me.

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Elizabeth Milias

Aspen