The sky is the limit for first-term Austin City Councilwoman Jennifer Kim. When it comes to allocating the $260,000 a year with which her office is endowed (nominally to pay for the member’s salary and that of their staff), Councilwoman Kim has appropriated generously.
Oh, not on salaries mind you or other public expenses that wouldn’t raise the eyebrows of Austin’s taxpayers, but on questionable items such as:
$921 for a three-night stay at the W hotel in Manhattan
$700 for a membership to Continental Airlines’ ‘President’s Club’
$550 for a Sharper Image air purifier
$400 for 20 copies of Discover Your Strengths
$232 in Crane and Company brand stationary
$86 in Vera Wang barware
$67 for a Steam Wizard from The Sharper Image
$59 each for “Executive Rollerball” pens from The Sharper Image.
Using taxpayer dollars to buy designer barware, and a stay at a trendy Manhattan hotel? Has she been reading the Pedernales Co-op’s guide to fiscal responsibility?
When asked about these expenditures by a local reporter, Kim defended her acquisitional judgment by saying, “I spend what I need to out of my budget to be able to do the job. And in the beginning, it was a brand new office, a brand new staff, there were a lot of things that we needed.”
Like Vera Wang barware. Riiiiight.
I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on the pens (my Mont Blanc makes those look reasonable), the stationary, the suit steamer, the travel club membership, etc., but–despite being an Aggie–she should know enough not to use public funds to buy any of these items from expensive vendors, if at all.
This is not the first example of Kim’s poor judgment however. In early 2007, she created a furor by indignantly attempting to bypass airport security at ABIA, claiming nonexistent VIP status. When informed her status as a member of the Austin City Council conferred her no special security rights, Kim said “I didn’t know it was a [Transportation Security Administration (TSA)] issue, … I thought since it was our airport and we own it, and if we are pre-cleared, we could get through.”
Uh, ask anyone who has flown since 9/11 if they are aware TSA runs airport security.
As reported elsewhere, Kim’s antics have made her hard to work with, running through at least three executive aides since she took office in 2005.
Her airport shenanigans have even given her electoral opponent a campaign slogan, “I’ll be happy to stand in line with you at the airport anytime.”