Favola, Tejada to Head for the Islands

By Annie Gowen and Leef Smith
Thursday, June 23, 2005

Leery, perhaps, of the image of lei-wearing conventioneers imbibing parasol drinks at taxpayers' expense, county officials from several states have pulled out or balked at attending the National Association of Counties' annual conference July 15-19 in Honolulu.

Not Arlington.

County Board members Barbara A. Favola (D) and Walter Tejada (D) plan on going. Favola said she would combine her attendance at the convention, at taxpayers' expense, with five days of rest and recreation with her family, at her own expense.

Favola made no apologies about her decision to attend, saying that the county pays membership dues to the group and that she recently was elected to chair NACo's subcommittee on human services and education.

"I think it is an appropriate use of county dollars," Favola said. "We are members of NACo and we pay dues. For us to benefit from our dues, we need to participate in their workshops and hear what other localities are doing."

In addition to costly airfare -- Favola's plane ticket was around $900 -- the convention costs between $415 and $600 to attend, depending on registration date. Room rates at several big-name Waikiki hotels range from $179 to $295 a night.

County executives can pay extra to choose from a variety of special tours offered, including a Barefoot Fun Cruise, with snorkeling on an Oahu motor yacht, or an Ali'i Kai Catamaran Dinner Cruise, where guests can dine on a "generous buffet of island favorites" and watch the sun set. They can also attend a seminar on the island of Maui with such enriching topics as "Budgeting for Outcomes That Citizens Value." Its content description goes like this:

"Tired of delivering bad news about declining county revenues and yet another round of budget cuts? Would you like to take a new approach to budgeting that starts with what really matters -- the results that citizens value? . . . You'll learn about one county's plan to provide an open, clear window into the often complicated world of county budgeting and how they involved citizens to prioritize services, create measurements, and report results."

Some local citizens expressed dismay at Favola's and Tejada's decision to make the trip.

"Even in Arlington, there are still a large number of citizens who scrimp and save all year so they can take a vacation," said Timothy M. Wise, president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association. "Here are County Board members taking a vacation financed by outrageously increased property taxes that were paid this week."

Is Fear a Factor for You?

Alexandria is known for a lot of things: George Washington, the tony homes that fill Old Town and the city's historic waterfront, to name a few.

But it seems the city could soon be adding another line to its distinguished résumé: Host of the television show "Fear Factor Home Invasion."

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