PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Mayor James Holley, who has refused to bow to pressures fromcity leaders and residents to step down, is not about to give uphis lofty post -- or the perks that come with it.
WAVY.com obtained the mayor's travel expense records for 2008and 2009 through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents showthe mayor used his city credit card to pay for things like limoservice, lavish hotels, even a trip to a spa. Portsmouth taxpayersfoot the bill for the mayor's credit card.
The controversial city leader has come under fire recently forordering his secretary to handle his personal chores, then beratingher if she failed to complete them. Earlier this month, PortsmouthCity Council voted and formally asked the mayor to resign, but herefused.
In researching the mayor's travel expenses, WAVY.com hasdiscovered Mayor Holley took a trip to Miami in June 2008 for theU.S. Conference of Mayors. The city paid for the mayor and hiswife, Mary, to go on the 5-day trip at a cost of $3,543.76,including airfare for both of them. In addition to the mealsprovided by the conference, the mayor put $540 worth of other mealsfor him and his wife on his city credit card, including a $70breakfast.
In October 2008, the mayor and his wife jetted off to Palm Beachfor a conference of mayors. A 3-night stay in the resort costthe city $1,365.33.
Mayor Holley has also repeatedly used Airport ExpressInternational in Norfolk for limo service to and from the airport,according to his expense reports. That costs $80 each way and ispaid for using his city credit card.
Mayor Holley and his wife also flew to Key West and FortLauderdale for a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in February2008. The hotel stay alone for that trip cost taxpayers $1,012.89for three nights. That same month, Mayor Holley spent one night inRichmond at the Berkeley Hotel and charged $332.03 to his citycredit card. The reason for that travel expense was not clear inthe records.
In 2009, despite an $8.2 million budget shortfall and cityemployee layoffs and furloughs, the recession didn't seem to impactthe mayor's travels.
In June, Mayor Holley and his wife flew to Providence, RhodeIsland for another conference. That five-night trip cost Portsmouthtaxpayers $2,482.61.
The First Couple of Portsmouth also spent five nights inWashington D.C. for a mayors conference in January. That cost$1,987.14. One night on that trip the Holley's ordered room servicefor $90 on the city credit card.
Also, during a September 2008 conference at Kingsmill inWilliamsburg, there is a charge for "spa services" for $23.20 onthe mayor's city credit card.
This past February, according to Holley's expense report, themayor attended a one-day conference in D.C. that cost taxpayers$528.89 including hotel and gas mileage.
All total, Mayor Holley and his wife spent more than $14,000worth of travel expenses in the last year and a half.
Also, according to the city documents, the mayor, in a couple ofcases, asked for and received city council approval before takingsome of the trips.
WAVY.com placed several calls to city leaders including the citymanager and the mayor Monday and were not able to reach anyone forcomment.
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