KTLA reporter Eric Spillman stayed on his minor obsession with Mayor Villaraigosa's trip to Africa with Channel 5 colleague Lu Parker and has some new details. The eight-day trip, which began the day after the mayor was sworn in for his second term, came with business class airfare costing $8,400, stays at two luxury hotels that charged more than $1200-a-night, and three days of safaris at a private game reserve.
There was also a helicopter sight-seeing tour of the Cape, a visit to a South African vineyard, various side trips, gourmet meals, and a black-tie banquet.
Total cost reported by the Mayor's office was $17,341.06, all of it paid for by a Washington-based foundation called The Academy of Achievement, which brings together outstanding graduate students and "scholars, achievers, and honorees" to "exchange ideas", according to the group's website.
It's likely city taxpayers did have to pay for the Mayor's security. (He always travels with his LAPD security detail, says his spokesman Matt Szabo). But so far we haven't been able to find out how much that might have cost. The LAPD has rejected our request for that information, citing concerns about the Mayor's safety if that dollar figure was released. We'll keep trying to learn what it was.
Spillman posted his documents. He's hit a curious wall trying to get info on Villaraigosa's Iceland vacation with Keith Brackpool and other political figures. Villaraigosa's Deputy Legal Counsel Gabriel Sandoval is claiming those details are privileged — that releasing those records would "reveal the Mayor's deliberative decision-making processes...The public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by its disclosure." Say what?