City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said he made a recommendation to call off the trip to both China and Taiwan in light of recent questions about city officials’ motives, the Los Angeles Daily News and Pasadena Star-News reported. An item will be placed on the agenda for the City Council meeting of Tuesday, when members of the council will have the opportunity to vote on the trip.
“We wanted to have a trip that everybody was behind and proud of … so we thought it was better to cancel the trip, than continue when people had concerns,” Lazzaretto said.
Two $10,000 donations were offered to the city by Chinese firms in January, and a third $10,000 donation from a local development company was announced at a council meeting in February, the Daily News and its sister newspaper in Pasadena reported.
Government and ethics experts said the donations raised concerns about transparency and influence. The three $10,000 donations that were offered the city and intended to cover a portion of the business travel for eight city officials will not be accepted, Lazzaretto said.
“We haven’t actually received the donations so we made some calls to say ‘Don’t bother sending if you are already in the process.”‘
The two-week trip, scheduled for March 19 to April 1, was designed to study sister city relationships, learn about the culture and meet with Chinese and Taiwanese officials.
City Councilman Sho Tay said he decided Monday to forgo the trip.
“I told (Lazaretto) ‘I’m not going,’” Tay said. “‘This seems like a bad idea.’ We don’t need to take money from anybody. We don’t need donations.”
— City News Service