UPDATE: (Jul. 16)--ABC-15 (Phoenix) has the SSA response to the affiliate's investigation of the training conference. ABC-15 apparently was among the first, if not the first, to report this. I saw it first on Fox News. The SSA sent a 3-page explanatory letter to Congress the TV investigative team said.
The US Social Security Administration is dubbed one of the best agencies to work for, and judging by a training conference, I can see why. Fox News scooped the training conference held at the Arizona Biltmore, a facility claiming on its home pages to be "known throughout the world as the 'Jewel of the Desert.'" The hotel website says every room has a well-stocked mini-bar and for the weight conscious, a scale. The SSA, Fox said, flew 700 managers to the resort for a conference with skits, a dance troupe, Casino Night and door prizes.
If you're recalling President Barack Obama's fit about private companies doing the wine- and-dine in exotic locations after taking taxpayer bailout money, you're not alone. The federal government spends taxpayer money with no shame, no integrity and no accountability.
The Fox reporter asked a SSA spokesman, "With withering criticism over the misuse of taxpayer dollars, many people will look at this and go, 'Wait, same thing.'"
The spokesman replied, "There's a clear distinction between the two. They received specific bailout dollars. We didn't. We're not using any recovery money. There's no ARA money involved in this."
That sort of brain-dead reasoning prevails in Washington. Bureaucrats think if the bucks don't come from one pot, it's fine if they come from another. There's a complete lack of consciousness regarding safeguarding taxpayer dollars.
Once again, the federal government proves its ineptitude as we, the taxpayer, face a government composed of looters.
Jul. 15, 2009: This article has been edited. The video glitched this page up when we tried to edit it. We eventually realized what was causing problems. You may watch the original video hosted at Fox News. I have also removed snarkisms. And I would add I do not want to see anyone lose his or her job but I would like to see reformed spending.--Kay B. Day, ed.
The figures aren't sourced, but The Phoenix New Times reported: "On Monday, the Social Security Administrationbegan a three-day retreat for more than 700 employees, fromas far away as Guam,at Phoenix's posh Biltmore Hotel...The glorified vacation, which SSA officials describe as a "training workshop," cost taxpayers roughly $750,000."
Another report from ABC Affiliate ABC15 in Arizona: Social Security spends $700K on Phoenix
*New information includes remarks from SSA and official SSA statement. Look for new commentary on this Monday.
New commentary as promised: Social Security Admin technically did nothing wrong with Arizona conference.
--Kay B. Day, Jul. 13, 2009