Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

There's more to travel expenses

To the editor:

Regarding the editorial "Traveling Travesty" in the Dec. 23 issue, I found this a welcome opinionpiece on an important subject. We should be looking at actual expenses of government departments.

I do want to add that conferences can benefitemployees and their work.

Getting out of the office to address personnel relations and other

issues can be effective where personality problems interfere, or where

the staff deals with complex issues often, without letup.

I've had experience with an organization that held an annual retreat

for all employees. Wetalked business but also practiced team-building

games, which can be illuminating. Administrators talked about an

upcoming system change and sought employee comments and ideas about the

transition. An invited speaker could dive into those areas of the

jobthat are normally hard to discuss. Each year it seemed a worthwhile

effort in better relations, more efficiency, and respect for the

other's job.

It is surprising how many managers do not know how to communicate well

orresolve conflicts. No matter what a new manager brings into a

workplace, there are oftendynamics present that she or he could not be

prepared for.

I do believe that taxpayers and constituents really do want to know

where the money goes. If a state visits another country to promote

tourism and industry, it is appropriate that we receive more feedback

then we do - through a public report, or a two-year follow-up.

Also, sometimes a resort offers a package for a group within the same

price range as a more modest venue, and the agency decides to go with

the resort. Supporting a locale that needs a little more business is

surely commendable - if the entire cost is not excessive - since a

conference needs to be held somewhere.

The bottom line in this editorial isthat we really want to know more

about what's going on, and not just hearbellyaching. We know

firsthand, for example,that our school districts are in turmoil,

juggling diminishing funds while constantly facing the unexpected from

their own state.

Thank youfor starting the conversation.

Linda Bergeron