Cassie MacDuff

BY CASSIE MACDUFF
COLUMNIST
cmacduff@pe.com

Published: 22 November 2011 10:11 AM

Local restaurants have gotten a boost from San Bernardino International Airport employees dining at public expense.

Public records I requested in September for credit card receipts of the airport’s then-executive director and assistant director were finally provided this month, revealing this routine.

Although Executive Director Don Rogers, who resigned a week after the Sept. 21 FBI raid, submitted no expenses, Assistant Director Mike Burrows did.

Burrows’ reimbursements include business lunches at the Elephant Bar, Lotus Garden, Black Angus and other San Bernardino restaurants.

Sometimes, airport staff went to Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Panera bakery in Redlands for meeting-lunches and take-out meals.

I asked several airport commissioners whether they think it’s appropriate for staff who work together all day to bill the public when they dine together, too.

They thought an explanation was owed for why the work couldn’t be done during normal business hours rather than over meals.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, having taxpayers foot the bill is an abuse, said Supervisor Neil Derry.

The most eye-popping lunch bill was for $315.18 at Farm Artisan Foods, a “fine dining” eatery in Redlands.

The receipt didn’t note the purpose or who attended.

Supervisor Josie Gonzales, who serves on the commission, said the lunch was to thank Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, for carrying a bill to keep property taxes in airport coffers.

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