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Murrieta City Council Approves China Trip for Mayor

The decision followed council's adoption of a new international travel policy.

The city of Murrieta will foot the bill for Mayor Rick Gibbs’ travel to China in April, it was decided this week.

The trip, which is expected to cost approximately $2,500, according to Gibbs, was approved 4-1 Tuesday night by Murrieta City Council, with Councilman Harry Ramos dissenting. The vote was part of a larger discussion about the city’s international travel policy.

The policy, on the other hand, was approved 5-0.

Councilman Randon Lane, who was invited to go on a separate trip to represent the city during a trade show in Shanghai, China in March, was the one who initially requested more information as to whether the city had such a policy.

Lane said he thought travel guidelines were important to the community if money was going to be spent.

City Manager Rick Dudley agreed and said they have to be careful not to violate state gift laws, which could occur if elected officials were to travel at the expense of private parties.

It was decided in a previous meeting that the council’s International Relations Subcommittee, which consists of Gibbs and Bennett, should take up the issue.

The subcommittee then met and drafted a policy that sets out a number of guidelines. Most importantly, it calls for an explanation of the specific benefit that proposed travel would bring to the city.

The policy also states that elected officials may accept travel expenses from nonprofits, public or private educational institutes, and other governmental agencies foreign or domestic, without violating state gift laws.

If a private entity extends an invitation, it must be for an unnamed city staff person; however all requests for travel must be submitted on agency letterhead. When requests for an unnamed staff member are received, the city manager may designate who attends though it can not be an elected official, the city manager, the city attorney or the city treasurer.

A discussion of Gibbs’ and Lane’s proposed trips followed council’s adoption of the policy Tuesday.

Lane was invited by Murrieta-based USA Continental Regional Center, which has federal designation to help foreign investors obtain citizenship through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' EB-5 program.

The center’s co-founder, Al Rattan, asked Lane to accompany him to the EB-5 trade show in Shanghai; however, Lane said he had a schedule conflict and could not attend.

It was just as well, because some council members did not agree the trip would be as beneficial to the city as Gibbs’ 14-day trip to three, possibly four Chinese provinces in April.

“Having been on an EB-5 trip, I wouldn’t bother going on another. Send a city staff person,” said Gibbs, referring to a trip he took to China in 2011.

Concerns were also raised about the logistics of Lane's trip, such as whether he would have been able to obtain a visa in time.

Gibbs said his upcoming trip would be “truly about direct foreign investment,” though he could not yet divulge the details of what that could mean for Murrieta. He said he will be “meeting with provincial officials to essentially promote this region as an area for development.”

He said he also plans to visit officials in Shaoxing County. The city and Shaoxing entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2011 in an effort to increase trade, culture and education between the two regions.

He expects the trip to cost the city $2,500: $1,200 for airfare, another $1,000 for lodging when he is not being hosted by Chinese officials, and about $100 for meals when he is not being entertained.

Though there was no funding budgeted for international travel this fiscal year, the city manager said if council found his trip appropriate the city “would certainly find the money.”

Councilman Ramos voted against the trip. He said voting on it the same night the policy was approved did not allow enough time for the trip to be thoroughly vetted. He said it went back to his “beliefs about the role of government” and expressed concern about problems “when you start crossing public and private sectors.”

Gibbs made it clear his role was to serve as an elected official, noting Roy Paulson of Temecula-based Paulson Manufacturing would be on the same trip. Gibbs said he may also meet up with Temecula City Councilman Jeff Comerchero while in the China. The councilman is expected to be there during the same time frame, Gibbs said.

Rattan was thanked for the invitation he extended to Lane. He'd offered to pay for his travel, which would not have been permitted under the new policy.

“...It seems like he is doing his best to reach out to council and get us engaged,” Lane said. “...We have an opportunity with this EB-5 program.”

Council agreed it would be beneficial for each of them to eventually represent the city abroad.

Councilman Alan Long said the new policy was well thought out, and related the discussion to seizing rare opportunities.

“...Over a drink my dad traded for land here (in Murrieta) for his land in Mission Viejo,” Long said. “He saw two boons and was able to develop two subdivisions...I think I relate these types of trips to that.”

Long made another point: that existing local businesses should not be forgotten.

“We need to invest an equal amount of time,” Long said.

Baby Daddy February 22, 2013 at 06:41 PM
vvxvnvn
Baby Daddy February 22, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Same Mayor/Council who wanted $50 from those residents wishing to hear the annual State of The City address and same Mayor/Council who approved $350 charge to residents who need emergency dispatch of a firetruck. REMEMBER THEIR NAMES COME ELECTION TIME
Jason Schutz February 22, 2013 at 07:43 PM
This is simply a business trip designed to bring jobs to Murrieta. Murrieta needs more jobs and I support jobs and support Mayor Gibbs to his effort to get them. The $2,500 INVESTMENT is small price to pay to get potential investors/business to open in Murrieta. We need more go-getters like Gibbs, let’s not forget what he did to get Loma Linda Hospital open in record time.
Cyclist February 22, 2013 at 07:50 PM
And what did the Loma Linda Hospital bring to Murrieta. Exactly what I told everyone; NOTHING! No businesses popped up around it, no restaurants, NO TAX GENERATING BUSINESS resulted from the Hospital. Look at other hospitals in the area. No one opens a business by a hospital as a result of the hospital being there. This $2500 will be gone with nothing to show for it. And if anything does come from it, it will just be another foreigner buying a greencard under the EB-5 "cash for greencard" program. We are selling off parts of the U.S.A. and your councilmembers are doing the selling.
Baby Daddy February 22, 2013 at 09:30 PM
It's pretty easy to say "jobs in Murrieta" and get approval. Perhaps you can explain exactly what type of jobs this trip to China could potentially produce here in Murrieta. The Mayor/Council have'nt been able to (or don't want to)
Jennifer McCaughey February 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM
How many jobs can you expect Murrieta to gain through international travel by our elected officials? Seriously. If there is a company that has expressed interest in coming to Murrieta, I can see it. Otherwise, it seems like a taxpayer funded junket to me. We are supposed to be broke, I thought.
mike hall February 23, 2013 at 12:54 AM
The city council members should not be so thin skinned when it comes to negative comments about this type of spending. Murrieta citizens are being laid off by the city and then they see this type of quote unquote investment. Each Murrieta citizen has a right to speak up on matters like this and that should be respected and welcomed! After all this is America and we all have a voice, correct? If you can't take the heat stay out of government!
Baby Daddy February 23, 2013 at 05:36 AM
What does buying an expensive assault rifle have anything to do with this issue? That's a lame comment. As an American, no one should be questioned about a legal purchase with money they've earned! Politicians should ALWAYS be questioned about spending OUR dough and, if their answer(s) doesnt appease us, we should hold 'em accountable. That's how this system is supposed to work
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM
The Murrieta Mayor's State of the City address is FREE. It will be held in the city hall on Jefferson, in the city council room, Very comfortable seats, Tuesday evening February 26, 2013, at 7:00 PM IF you would take the time to actually read these articles in Patch and check the links you would know this: "7:00 PM Free State of the City Presentation Free presentation by the Mayor of his State of the City speech. Cookies and coffee served after the presentation." A preview of the speech will be given in the morning by Mr. Gibbs in an activity of the Economic Development Department for VIPs and hope to be VIPs. It includes at least two other speakers and breakfast. This one costs $49. If you actually read the article and the links you would know have known this already. this already. "Tuesday February 26, 2013 8:00 AM Murrieta's State of the City Presentation 2013 The morning address costs $49 per person and includes breakfast. It will also feature speakers Fred Latuperissa from the U.S. Department of Commerce and J. Adalberto Quijada from the U.S. Small Business Administration. To register contact..."
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 10:36 AM
The Murrieta Mayor's State of the City address is FREE. It will be held in the city hall on Jefferson, in the city council room, Very comfortable seats, Tuesday evening February 26, 2013, at 7:00 PM "7:00 PM Free State of the City Presentation Free presentation by the Mayor of his State of the City speech. Cookies and coffee served after the presentation." A preview of the speech will be given in the morning by Mr. Gibbs in an activity of the Economic Development Department for VIPs (and hope to be VIPs). It includes at least two other speakers and breakfast. This one costs $49 and reservations. See the other Patch stories for the contact for reservations. "Tuesday February 26, 2013 8:00 AM Murrieta's State of the City Presentation 2013 The morning address costs $49 per person and includes breakfast. It will also feature speakers Fred Latuperissa from the U.S. Department of Commerce and J. Adalberto Quijada from the U.S. Small Business Administration. To register contact..."
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Why China? The economic boom in China in the past several decades has made thousands of multi-millionaires. The flood of American dollars and the trade imbalance for decades has given them TONS of American dollars. Some of the wealthy ones are looking to use their American dollars to invest in the US.
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Gosh Rob! There are a lot of differences. The attorney for the former mayor of Bell, now on trial, stated this week, the Mayor of Bell was too illiterate and uneducated to know he was being paid too much. His attorney said in closing arguments in court this week that the former maror of Bell did NOT have a college degree, did NOT have a high school degree, did NOT even finish elementary school. He was being paid over $100,000 per year for the part time job on Bell city council. Contrast: In Murrieta Mr Gibbs who is an Air Force full Colonel, has administrative experience in the Air Force and in commercial aerospace positions, an academic masters degree in Public Administration, is working about 40 hours per week for city business and getting paid by the city about $700 per month for being on the city council, that comes to about $4.00 per hour. He is a real sincere dedicated public servant, and has got a lot done for the country, and now for the city. If you took the time to read the city web site, or even just watch the city council meetings you would have a more realistic knowledge of what is being done here. The council meetings are broadcast live on TV. They are on the city web site archived.
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 01:47 PM
# Cyclist Getting the Loma Linda Hospital itself is a major accomplishment. Many persons had to drive to Riverside or even San Diego to get medical help. I think it already employs several hundred persons, or soon will. It is very unrealistic for anyone to expect to see the area pop up with a lot of new building this quickly, even in good economic times. New roads had to be put in up there for even the hospital to be built. The city is continuing to improve certain roads. The neigboring area has been rezoned, but the city will be cooperating with developers to buy up areas of land to grade it and put in roads and utilities, etc. This will go slow for a while, but at least we got another hospital with a great reputation, while other nearby communities only wished for one.
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Prior trips have led to things like exchange visits for local high school students. Some Chinese HS students will be in this area, and some local HS students will go to China. I heard about it but do not remenber the details. Maybe this is for two-week visits. A young man, a relative of mine while in High School went to Japan for a couple of weeks with his HS class in Japanese language. Another relative hosted a foreign HS student in her home for a couple of weeks. This is a broadening experience. The young man later in Univ of CA did his senior year as an exchange student in Japan, then did his first year of graduate school in Italy and his second year of graduate school in Washington DC. Then the government sent him and others to Korea for a summer to learn Korean in a program to have more personnel trained in foreign languages that could be called on in emergencies. He now works for the US gov't in international commerce. In 3 or 4 years China may surpass the US as an economic power by many forecasts. Learn to think big. It was in the news a week or so ago the governor of Texas came to California to talk to employers about the advantages to move their business to Texas. Other states for years have had spent on campaigns to lure businesses and manufacturing, like offering them for example no property taxes for ten years
Serious Sam February 23, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Mayor Gibbs gets plenty of foreign travel with his employment as a representative for an aerospace company. I think he said he has traveled overseas about 150 times not including his trips while on active duty in the air force. I don't think he wants to go on yet another foreign trip just to be doing a junket.
Cathy Neumann-Bearse February 23, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Thank you Jason! I get so frustrated when all people do it put down those in office .. much of their time is donated .. and yet .. all you haters BACK OFF or .. better yet get up and volunteer your time .. oh thats right .. you cant!!
Cathy Neumann-Bearse February 23, 2013 at 05:21 PM
IF you REALLY want a voice .. try getting involved!! that wont happen!
mike hall February 23, 2013 at 06:06 PM
News flash Shane, Everything in business is the bottom line! Is the same reason This country is failing in Washington, It's not treated like a business and there is no bottom line to these guys in office! if you have a problem with people speaking their mind about how their money is spent, then you're not familiar with how a democracy works! When it comes to arming ourselves, that's our absolute right!
Jason Schutz February 23, 2013 at 07:19 PM
To Cyclist & Mr. Daddy 1) Loma Linda has doctors, nurses, and many many support staff who all need services like somewhere to live, eat shop and entertain and they (Loma Linda employees) support local service business’ which taxes are being generated. The immediate Loma Linda business neighbors will follow. 2) Just prior to Loma Linda opening, the only other two area hospitals were/are owned by Southwest Healthcare and BOTH hospitals have failed several consecutive state inspections and BOTH were in real danger of being closed which would have been catastrophic to this valley. Gibbs fought to get a viable Hospital open in record time. 3) Like it or not, China does a lot of business with the US and are expanding exponentially. We can either get on the expansion train or shun it. The need for R&D, distribution and sales centers is real and we (Murrieta) should go after that business. I applaud Gibbs for going the extra mile to get it. 4) I too am looking forward to the Mayors report as to what future business we will gain from his trip.
John Kirk De Ritis February 23, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Seriously a party of 2 made the decision to spend taxpayer money on a non specific trip to china Bull shit Yet they hire AMR to stick it to the people ( fixed incomes mostly elderly) for ambulance to hospitals They invite massage paroles And cigarette store to flourish We don't even have a decent night life in Murrieta The police make sure of that Why doesn't Rick Gibbs go to Arkansas and build a Walmart distribution center How about going to any where that manufacturers are building And bring it to Murrieta The city manager is a joke to approve such unwarranted funds for chopsticks and dim sum Baby daddy has it right At least Randon is going there with a purpose And thank you mr Ramos for holding the trip up to the light And mr long, your dads world is completely different than to day Unless you plan on building the port of Murrieta Unwarranted and wasteful You need not look far for the fraud perpetrated upon the citizens of our community Oh yeah that i started with the builders too. Kickbacks and graft. Hey I have a great Idea lets build a stadium for hockey and baseball and basket ball then court the minor leagues D'oh Elsinore !!!!
Douglas VanderHeide February 23, 2013 at 11:22 PM
They find money for the junket, but meanwhile the fire dept and ambulance services come crying for more money, less services and a new tax. For the airfare that's being discussed, he'll be on a slow boat to China. Non-stop flights appear to be in the $5,000 - $9,000 range. I don't know about helping our local economy, but we taxpayers are certainly helping the Chinese economy.
Jo Ann February 24, 2013 at 12:18 AM
The Feds go, the States go, the County's go and now every city over 100,000 people go. What a boon to the Chinese tourist trade. We taxpayers just keep paying.
LaVerna Fuller February 24, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Why not give special compensations to local investors instead of those in China? Special favors given to Chinese investors resulted in another strip mall at the corner of Kalmia and Jefferson while other malls/plazas in the same vicinity are full of empty commercial spaces. How does this benefit Murrieta? Why do we need more development anyway until local businesses are once more productive and some of the many that have left Murrieta consider returning? LaVerna Fuller
AnnieB February 24, 2013 at 02:17 AM
I agree with all of you who are questioning this trip. We have to pay emergency fees now, besides that in our property taxes (which include fees for that purpose), our class sizes are increasing, our unemployment rate is still too high, and they are saying we need to give them more $$ to fly all the way to China to get more jobs? WHAT jobs specifically? I would like to know if its going to be anything like the Farmstead Market debacle, this is going to be a total waste of time. I say, if they want to work with Chinese officials, forget the trip, and use that thing called the Internet, and Skype or FaceTime. That would work just as effectively, and its FREE! I'm tired of govt officials getting free meals, free "outings" and free rounds of golf all on our dime. I don't even know how Im going to buy groceries next month with my DH being out of a job for over a year, and our savings just running out. Yet, I am PAYING for these people to have a fun time, in CHINA??? I hate hate hate all politicians. It's all about money and power, and never about the people. But there is nothing we can do about these selfish politicians. Absolutely nothing.
mike hall February 24, 2013 at 07:27 AM
Another blunder, the city manager just awarded a 5 year contract to a maintenance company from Anaheim. This decision put 6 Murrieta residents out of work. Now it does save 2000 dollars a month to the city but takes 8500 dollars out of the local economy monthly. How do decisions like this make long term economic sense? They're not even keeping the local businesses that we do presently have, in our local community or local economy. These guys are not making good decisions when it comes to our local economy, so keep speaking up!
mike hall February 24, 2013 at 07:31 AM
Hey Kathy for your information we're all involved, were flipping the bill for all of these poor decisions
Serious Sam February 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Mr Gibbs just went to China, it seems like two or three months ago, and gave a report of his trip publicly with slides at the city council meeting the city. He would know how much it costs the way he plans to go. He has travelede a lot.
Serious Sam February 26, 2013 at 10:25 AM
FREE INFORMATION! The Murrieta Mayor's State of the City address tonight is FREE. It will be held in the city hall on Jefferson, in the city council room, Very comfortable seats, Tuesday evening February 26, 2013, at 7:00 PM "7:00 PM Free State of the City Presentation Free presentation by the Mayor of his State of the City speech. Cookies and coffee served after the presentation."
Serious Sam February 27, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Well the city is also doing things to to help local business and manufacturing to get started and grow in Murrieta. Maror Gibbs told about some of the activities and mentions some of the local business and manufacting companies that are growing in Murrieta at his talk on the state of the city Tuesday evening. You can see and hear the full talk on the cities web site. See and hear the full talk given by Mayor Gibbs Tuesday evening February 26, 2013 at the city council meeting room on the city web site. http://www3.murrieta.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=360&doctype=AGENDA click on little box on lower right corner to go full screen.
Serious Sam February 28, 2013 at 12:58 AM
If the above link does not work, try it here. Videos of nearly all city council meetings are archived and can be viewed on the city web site. http://www3.murrieta.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=360&doctype=AGENDA

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