Harbor Department Cuts Back Asia Trip : Government: After mayor’s office calls proposal ‘outrageous,’ port officials drop eight of 10 nations from tour.
Los Angeles port officials Monday scaled back a 10-nation Asian-Pacific tour after aides to Mayor Tom Bradley damned the trip as “outrageous” and acknowledged that it created the impression that appointees were trying to cash in during the Administration’s final weeks.
Harbor Department officials said they will reduce the scope of the April trip, scheduling travel to two nations, Australia and Japan, with possible itinerary additions later.
“They have cut it from 10 nations to two and they have cut the invasion force considerably,” said City Controller Rick Tuttle, who has led criticism of the trips.
Bradley is not due back from a separate, four-nation European tour until Saturday, but his top aide said the mayor had never approved of the extended trip to Asia.
“We looked at the list submitted by the Harbor Department and we thought it was outrageous,” Deputy Mayor Mark Fabiani said. “And the mayor agreed. There was no reason for all these lame-duck commissioners to be taking a trip like that at the end of their terms.”
Bradley originally was tentatively listed as part of the 14-person delegation; he was to have visited five of the nations on the early itinerary.
But Fabiani said the mayor’s office had no information about the size of the delegation and the scope of the itinerary until last week, when Tuttle bashed the excursion as “extravagant.”
Tuttle has said the city has little to gain in future business development by sending to the Far East commissioners who are expected to leave office with Bradley on June 30.
Although Fabiani said the trip had been “withdrawn in its entirety,” a Harbor Department spokeswoman disagreed.
“We are not withdrawing it in its entirety,” spokeswoman Julia Nagano said. “But we understand the concerns, so we are looking at it to involve a smaller group than proposed. But all of this is still fluid.”
Harbor Department officials are still particularly intent on stopping in Tokyo for a ceremony to seal a deal for a $180-million coal-handling facility in which Japanese investors are partners.
The officials have said it would be embarrassing to Los Angeles and an insult to the Japanese investors if Bradley did not join a city contingent at the ceremony.
Fabiani said, however, that Bradley is unlikely to take part, and will definitely not go if the trip coincides with verdicts in the federal trial of the three police officers and one former officer accused of beating Rodney G. King.
The deputy mayor said he understood how some people have been disturbed by the scope of the trip as it was originally planned. The itinerary included “such an extremely long list” of officials and destinations that it might have appeared the commissioners were cashing in with one last fling, he said.