Local Councilman Living Large
This is the first of our series examining the spending habits of local public officials.
Desert Hot Springs, CA – Even during the best of economic times it seems excessive. During the worst of economic times it’s an insult to prudence. During the last four years Councilman Karl Baker has been enjoying travel, meals and high-priced hotels at taxpayers’ expense.
Almost ten months ago this newspaper requested to view the spending records of Baker. The California Public Records Act mandates the city provide such records within 14 days. Instead, the city dragged its feet, delaying their response for more time than it takes to give birth to a human.
What landed in our lap is enough to make taxpayers cry.
According to documents provided by the city for the years 2008 to present, Baker has been enjoying the finest hotel rooms in America, staying at prestigious hostelries such as the Fairmont, Hyatt Regency, and the Hilton. There was nothing economical about the councilman’s choice as he went high-style all the way.
Baker enjoyed the Wilshire Grand in Los Angeles, Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego and the Resort at Squaw Creek Lodge at Lake Tahoe. Some rooms costs to $325.00 a night. It’s not just Baker’s extensive sight-seeing circling the state – he’s gone nationwide.
Besides Newport Beach and San Diego, Baker enjoyed travel to Las Vegas, Denver and Washington DC. He is even now scheduled for a trip to New Orleans’ French Quarter, once again at city expense.
Once an outspoken critic of excessive spending at the Bug Board (properly known as the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District) where he holds a seat, Baker himself now has the odd distinction of suffering the same criticism he once heaped on others.
“Karl became a hypocrite after he got elected,” said Kathryn Maddox. “He forgot he’s spending taxpayer money. There’s no good reason for us footing the bill for his vacations.” Maddox is a resident of the city and her interest in Baker prompted our investigation.
Baker even used city money to stay at the Marriott in Riverside and the Hilton Ontario – cities that are an easy one-hour drive from Baker’s home.
Inexplicably, at Denver’s Hyatt Regency, Baker spent city money for a “group room” at $229.00 a night instead of a single occupancy room costing only $149.00.
Only occasionally frugal in spending city money, Baker submitted one receipt from Carl’s Jr. in the amount of $5.38. Other expenses remain questionable.
Frequently the added expense of Internet service is tacked on to Baker’s reimbursements and the city paid Baker $44.38 for his bar tab at the Hilton Garden’s Inn PI Bar in Denver.
No bones about it, the councilman ate very well with prime rib dinners and more as Baker used the city dime for catering with the added expense of room service costing upwards of $75.00 a meal.
“Karl should be more careful when spending taxpayer money,” said Maddox.
We have made document requests to various cities concerning officials’ spending and will be publishing results in forthcoming issues. You can view Councilman Baker’s actual receipts provided by the city detailing his spending. See…
www.desertstarweekly.com for the PDFs of Baker’s spending
Current average ratings.