Earlier this week, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin was one of four mayors invited by The White House to attend President Barack Obama’s unveiling of an immigration-reform proposal in Las Vegas.
And Fresno taxpayers picked up the tab.
In the grand scheme, however, the over-and-back day trip wasn’t much of a budget breaker.
The mayor flew commercial, leaving Fresno Yosemite International at 6 a.m. Tuesday and returning a little after 8 p.m. the same day. The cost of her plane flight: $453.80.
It also looks like peanuts when compared to Swearengin’s predecessor, Alan Autry.
He raised eyebrows by racking up bills in the thousands to attend such events as a 2002 White House Christmas reception and the dedication ceremony of the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., as well as then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2003 inauguration in Sacramento.
In addition, he took his wife along to several events, they stayed in top-flight hotels, ate well — and taxpayers picked up much of the tab.
It also should be pointed out that immigration reform is an important issue to Fresno, which still is primarily an agriculture-based economy. Being at the table at such a momentous occasion is not only important to Fresno, but a feather in the city’s cap as well.
Obama at the event outlined a broad proposal for putting millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship, cracking down on businesses that employ those immigrants and tightening border security.
These days, however, it seems every dollar spent is being scrutinized as the city struggles to get its budget under control.