The trip, which included Darrel Aubertine and just two other state lawmakers (from Maine and Pennsylvania) was sponsored by the Council on State Governments, a Lower Manhattan-based think tank that regularly hosts fact-finding trips (junkets?) to destinations around the globe.
Reported by Syracuse Post-Standard state government reporter Delen Goldberg, who discovered a letter that Aubertine wrote to protest a proposed $500,000 budget cut that would eliminate state funding for CSG.
Darrel seems to be constantly reminding us of the need for cuts and “difficult choices” in a state budget that Gov. Paterson says is out of balance by as much as $13 billion.
So while we are considering cutting funds for our schools, nursing homes, non profit agencies and local hospitals, why should CSG—which seems to exist only to provide junkets to well-wired lawmakers—be spared?
Aubertine's letter, which appears below, speaks of the importance of protecting 300 jobs at CSG's headquarters near Wall Street.
He makes no mention of his China trip, and – even though he signed the letter as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee—doesn't mention farms or his Northern NY district.
For the average Joe, such a trip would cost anywhere from $10,000-$20,000, depending on the season. And Sen. Aubertine insists he paid the entire cost all by himself.
It was the public's business so is it too much to ask for some proof? How much did the trip cost? Who paid for it? How was he selected to go? And what benefit did the trip to hardworking farmers and constituents in Northern NY?