That's Miami Chief Deputy City Attorney William Rossi, explaining in the Herald today why thousands in taxpayer funds were spent sending him to Hawaii for the ABA convention, and to Cancun for an ABA seminar.
Come on. This is an example of the type of half-truth that I have grown tired of as an attorney over the years. Sure, he's right, there are great seminars in exotic locales that are pitched to us all the time.
But we live in Miami, a place that apparently is still considered exotic when you are shelpper lawyer working in Des Moines. That's why there are a lot of great seminars right here in South Florida, as well as Orlando and Tampa. When you work for a poor city like Miami, shouldn't judgment and discretion counsel you to go to one of these local seminars instead?
And the ABA convention? The only attorneys who go to that work for big firms that are rolling in dough. Very little work gets done there, it costs a ton of money, and they are always scheduled someplace where you drop at least a few thousand to get there and back. If there was a legitimate reason for him to attend this particular convention, then why not just say that?
Well, he did attend one local seminar -- Screenwriting for Lawyers. Here's his explanation for that one:
Rossi said he took the class not because he was working on a manuscript, but because he thought it might include pointers on how to write legal briefs in attention-grabbing ways.
''Unfortunately, as it turned out, I think it was mostly focusing on how you write a screenplay,'' he said.
Ok, I don't really buy that he was clueless about the purposes of the course, but I give him credit for acknowledging that maybe it wasn't the best course he could be taking on the taxpayer dime.
As for his chief Jorge Fernandez, who I have criticized in the past, this is what the Herald found, in addition to the trips to Hawaii and Cancun for him and Rossi:
I have to be honest -- to me the plasma TVs and the office renovation sound reasonable. As he says, his office needed to be reconfigured to eliminate much of the outdated legal library, and they use the televisions for training, deposition review etc.
Fernandez's use of taxpayer money includes a roughly $300,000 renovation to his office, the purchase of two wide-screen, high-definition plasma televisions and the approval of thousands of dollars of travel, bonuses and other perks for the attorneys he supervises.
Those expenses are on top of the dozens of local meals Fernandez enjoyed using his $10,000 personal expense account -- including a $1,539 tab at the Rusty Pelican restaurant. State prosecutors are now investigating his expense account spending.
I don't know about the lunch expenses, but if he is truly meeting witnesses, experts, and interviewing staff etc., lunch at the Rusty Pelican isn't exactly Saturday night dinners at Nobu.