Playing golf on the city's credit card? A good idea?

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Playing golf on the city's credit card? A good idea?

I was going to play golf this weekend but didn’t want to pay the green fees. I toyed with the idea of having the golf course charge it to the city, based on my own solid reasoning that if the mayor and a pair of city employees, as well as a golf consultant, can play on the city’s dime, why not a typical Lemoore citizen.

If they can do it why not me, your standard everyday Lemooreon?

I opted against playing a round of golf, partly because the city wouldn’t pay for it, but mostly because I’m a lousy golfer.

On Friday I did visit the golf course because I craved one of the snack bar’s superb egg-salad sandwiches, but unfortunately the nice ladies at the snack bar informed me that egg salad was no longer on the menu. Sounds suspiciously like an edict from the mayor, whom I suspect either doesn’t care for egg salad or heard I enjoy an occasional egg salad sandwich.

So instead I ordered one of their hamburgers, which in my humble opinion, based on years of burger consumption, are the best in Lemoore. I politely asked if they wouldn’t mind putting my lunch on the city’s credit card. No response, so I was forced to dig into my own pocket to pay the bill.

As you might have read in the online pages of The Leader our mayor, parks and recreation director, and a recreation employee, played golf last month with a consultant hired by the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino to evaluate the Lemoore course. The city’s credit card paid for the golf excursion, and apparently the consultant paid for lunch. It’s been reported that Mayor Billy Siegel had one of the golf course’s famous hot dogs, but he told The Hanford Sentinel that he didn’t eat.

According to the city’s Code of Conduct, council members, commissioners, and other board members aren’t supposed to accept such gifts. The California Fair Political Practices Commission is a little easier on local officials. The FPPC limits local officials to $440 in gifts per year from one single source.

Should we judge our mayor for accepting a hot dog, if indeed he did? I wouldn’t make a big deal of it, but the more important issue was what was he doing on the golf course in the first place meeting with a golf consultant, and why did the city pay his golf fees, as well as those of two other city employees and a consultant? Apparently he was there to answer questions, but wouldn’t that be better handled by the golf professional or a city staffer? Was the mayor negotiating the sale of the golf course? As of last week the interim city manager, Jeff Laws, stated the city hasn’t received any offers for the golf course, and in conversations I’ve had with those close to the city, they said they don’t think it’s going to happen. Laws said he didn’t think the mayor was negotiating for the city, but he wasn’t there so doesn’t know for sure.

Apparently Council Member Eddie Neal didn’t much like the fact that he wasn’t informed of the golf course meeting and criticized Billy for not informing him and the council. He has a point.

The mayor’s actions reinforce my belief in the hypocrisy of certain city officials who proudly point out alleged abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars, but are more than happy to have the taxpayers foot the bill for a round of golf.

 The Kings County Grand Jury paid a visit to the Lemoore City Council chambers Tuesday night (August 6). The reason for their visit is unknown but grand juries, once established, often visit city councils, board meetings, and other meetings as a regular part of their investigative nature. And they don’t normally return phone calls asking what they’re investigating, instead issuing a report at the end of their one-year tenure.

There is no truth to the rumor that the Grand Jury had lunch at the golf course on the city’s credit card.

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