The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

December 9, 2010
The Money Trail: Rancho Cordova sends 14 to San Diego convention

The city of Rancho Cordova, like other cities, has managed to balance its budget with belt tightening.

Nonetheless, it loosened the cinch a tad when it sent 14 city officials, including one consultant, to the League of California Cities convention in San Diego in mid-September.

That meant three of the five elected officials - Vice Mayor Robert McGarvey and council members Linda Budge and David Sander - attended in addition to three of the five appointees on the city Planning Commission.

Another seven people on the city payroll - in addition to the consultant - made their way to Southern California for the event.

Among executives in attendance were City Manager Ted Gaebler, Assistant City Manager Joe Chinn, the city's finance director and the city clerk.

Cost to taxpayers for travel, hotel accommodations, conference registrations, exhibits and staffing for the city's free convention booth: just under $21,000.

The seven city employees who attended represent about one out of every 10 workers on the city payroll.

City officials say the money was well spent. Participants were able to join in or lead sessions on best practices for running a city effectively.

Attendees at the latest convention could join sessions to learn how representatives from other locales cope with financial crises, how to aid the homeless in tight times, and how best to maintain good relationships with labor groups as revenues shrink.

Those active in the league also can shape the cities' agenda at the Legislature.

David Ivazian, a Rancho Cordova resident, examined the city expenditures and the comparative levels of participation from other cities.

The city of Rancho Cordova, the data show, went well beyond the statewide norm for sending people. Of the 375 cities in attendance, the average city sent three to four representatives.

In Rancho Cordova, registration for 12 of the 14 attendees reached $6,000. Airline tickets, for those who didn't drive, cost about $3,900. Hotel costs were $8,300. The booth exhibits cost $1,284. Meals, at just under $1,700, rounded out the city's expense.

"I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of money,' " Ivazian said when he first heard the cost. "I get really mad when people are wasting my money."

City spokeswoman Nancy Pearl said she was surprised at the focus on the city's convention attendance. "Several of our council members moderated or participated in sessions among their peers," Pearl said in a statement.

"The individuals who believe there is some scandal that they will uncover are brewing a tempest in a teapot," she said.

The positives tell the story, she said.

The city this year received the league's Helen Putnam Award for excellence in city administration, further showing the value of learning good practices at league events, she said.

Besides, Pearl said, the money spent was minimal compared with the city's $39.3 million general fund budget - about one-twentieth of 1 percent.

- Loretta Kalb

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at:

The Public Eye


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives