Atlanta Mayor Reed to reimburse South Africa trip with “outside” funds


Mayor Kasim Reed will seek a non-governmental source to reimburse the city thousands of dollars in airfare for a May trip that he and several members of his staff took to South Africa, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Reed, former City Attorney Cathy Hampton, Chief of Staff Candace Byrd, Chief Resilience Officer Stephanie Stuckey and five others flew to Cape Town to talk to that city’s leaders about entrepreneurship, Atlanta’s entertainment business and urban development issues. The mayor has called Cape Town a “strategically important international partner for the city.”

Business-class airfare for the trip cost close to $60,000. The total bill to the city, including hotels, meals and travel expenses in South Africa, was close to $90,000.

City code allows only the mayor to travel business class, but Reed’s office said staff can also on international flights if approved by a commissioner or department chief.

Reed anticipated outside financial support when he authorized business-class travel for trip participants, the city spokeswoman said, adding that he never intended for taxpayers to foot the full cost of business class airfare.

Reed’s response come after news outlets, including Channel 2 Action News, criticized the spending and what they considered stalling from the mayor’s office in releasing expense reports, which were first sought in early May.

Harvey Newman, professor emeritus at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, said there are benefits to city leaders traveling abroad and to other cities in the United States. Leaders learn best practices from others, can foster trade agreements and act as ambassadors for local corporations, such as Coca-Cola or Delta Air Lines.

But he said a city must be judicious in making sure those involved have a purpose for going.

“I can see both side of this,” he said. “I’m sure we developed great partnerships there. But I would have to question the number of people.”

Reed’s office said in a statement that six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa and that the mayor has been trying for two years to woo South Africa leaders to make Atlanta the preferred gateway to the Americas. He’s taken a trip to Johannesburg and last year Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille came to Atlanta.

The mayor’s office also pointed out that Atlanta was ranked by FDI Intelligence Magazine as a top world city for foreign direct investment.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

College student from Cobb recovering at home after being shot in face
College student from Cobb recovering at home after being shot in face

Two people were shot in unrelated road-rage incidents in Cobb County early Saturday morning, according to Channel 2 Action News. The shootings happened within 30 minutes of each other, and the suspects in both cases have not been identified. One incident happened as a college student was driving home to Acworth from a Braves game, police said...
Buford board tries to close book on racist recording
Buford board tries to close book on racist recording

The Buford City Schools Board of Education tried to close a chapter in its recent rocky history, but a skeptical crowd at a meeting this week made it clear there are old wounds that need to heal. Those wounds were inflamed when an audio recording emerged last month in which someone said to be former Superintendent Geye Hamby used racial slurs repeatedly...
FBI crime stats: Violent offenses, property crimes declined in 2017
FBI crime stats: Violent offenses, property crimes declined in 2017

Violent and property crimes decreased nationally and in Atlanta in 2017, according to the FBI’s annual survey of crime in the United States. Preliminary national numbers portend a further decline this year, though not in Atlanta, where murders are up 20 percent from this time one year ago. The 2017 stats are welcome news after the previous two...
‘This was plain murder’: Family calls for criminal probe after jail death
‘This was plain murder’: Family calls for criminal probe after jail death

Family and friends of a Macon man who died in the Fulton County Jail earlier this month are calling on the district attorney's office to investigate and press criminal charges against the officers who pepper-sprayed and fired a Taser at the inmate. It’s still unclear exactly how Antonio May, a 32-year-old father of three, died Sept. 11, hours...
Braves give serious cash to two dozen charities throughout the South
Braves give serious cash to two dozen charities throughout the South

The Braves gave more than a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. The Atlanta Braves Foundation announced it’d be giving $315,000 in grants to 29 different charities throughout the ever-evolving “Braves Country.” Most are in metro Atlanta. The non-profit arm of the team raises raises money from things like a 50/50 raffle...
More Stories