Detroit Officials Take $22K Taxpayer-Funded Hawaii Trip

Pension trustees attend conference at resort with public money
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2013 3:23 PM CDT
Detroit Officials Take $22K Taxpayer-Funded Hawaii Trip
Two women chat after arriving at Ala Moana Beach, near the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, where preparations continued for the APEC Summit.   (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Detroit is $15 billion in debt, but that hasn't stopped some officials from visiting a resort in Hawaii on the public dime. Four city public pension fund trustees used $22,000 of retirement system funds to attend a conference at a four-star resort in Honolulu this week, reports Reuters. Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is not impressed. "It especially doesn't look good when you have city employees, police, firefighters having taken pay cuts," said his spokesman. "Middle-class, blue-collar workers, their dream vacation when they retire may be a two-week trip to Hawaii—they don't associate Hawaii with a place you go to work." Orr is now considering removing the trustees from their posts, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Many other funds from around the country boycotted the conference due to its location, the AP reports. Only 650 people attended this year's National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, down from 1,000 last year, because of what organizers say is a "headline risk." But the Detroit attendees stand behind their trip. "It's one of these things we trustees must do to stay on top of the field," says one. "It's important that we participate in these conferences. The stakes are too high." (More Hawaii stories.)

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