Wouldn’t you like to jet off to the Caribbean to get away from the November cold? I sure would, but I’m not part of the US Coral Reef Task Force. They say they needed the on-scene experience to truly understand the coral reefs they want to protect, so they booked rooms at the Buccaneer Hotel down in St. Croix. It looks nice!
Don’t worry, they were given a special government rate, so taxpayers are “only” footing the bill for $135 per night rather than $323 and up. (That isn’t counting the $74 meal per diem.)
The Washington Times has presented these bureaucrats with the Golden Hammer award.
The organizer, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, isn’t saying much about the total cost or reasons for the trip or why officials chose the St. Croix beachfront resort Buccaneer Hotel (made famous by an episode of TV’s “The Bachelor”) as their destination.
But life couldn’t have been too bad for the G-men and G-women at the swanky resort, which is surrounded by a lush green golf course and boasts rooms with rates that begin at $323 a night. “Gracious, elegant, legendary” is how the 17th-century resort bills itself.
Federal officials defend the trip by saying that on-scene experience about Caribbean coral reefs is important to the mission of conservation. They also emphasized that they managed to get a special government discount rate of $135 a night for the hotel, topped off with a $74 meal per diem.
But for fiscal watchdogs clamoring for reducing spending and the national debt, the trip stands as a powerful symbol of a government that has little sensitivity to appearances or the bottom line.
“Taxpayers expect accountability regardless of whether a particular meeting was held in a coral reef or in a Hyatt,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a fiscal watchdog group.
For jetting off to the Virgin Islands at a dubious time of year and making it difficult to monitor its costs, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force wins the Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction from The Washington Times awarded for examples of wasteful or excessive spending. (Read More)