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Leggett Plans Trade Trip to Asia

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) departs next week for a two-week economic development trip to Korea and China. The Asia tour follows Leggett's trade mission last year to Israel.

The trip's price tag for the county executive and his aides is $38,346.

"It's almost impossible to have a leaner delegation than this," said Leggett's spokesman, Patrick Lacefield. "Ike is being cost-conscious."

Airline tickets for Leggett and the four economic development department staff members run $14,304, and accommodations will cost $9,620. The county plans to spend $9,850 to host receptions for government and business leaders and $4,572 on other meals and incidentals. Lacefield said the county is hoping to get reimbursed by the state for jointly hosted events.

The Asia trip comes as Leggett has been warning the County Council of a projected $250.million shortfall for fiscal 2010. Leggett plans to force county employees to stay home for at least two days unpaid as part of a package of planned cuts to the current budget and has said additional furloughs are possible.

Council President Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) said that given the timing of Leggett's trip, "there should be some raised eyebrows."

"I would be rethinking going given where we are right now," Knapp said of the budget constraints. "I think there's an awful lot we can do with economic development right here with the assets we have in our back yard as opposed to traveling around the world."

Last year, Leggett dropped out of a planned economic development trip to India to help shape the tax package put forward by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in the high-stakes special session of the General Assembly.

Lacefield said this year's trip is intended to strengthen the county's relationship with Korean biotech and pharmaceutical companies that began in 2002, in part because of the hundreds of Korean scientists x working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville.

"He wants to continue work in Korea and open opportunities in China," Lacefield said.
Leggett will attend the Bio Korea forum with representatives from NIH and Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development, in addition to meeting with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Leggett's schedule for Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing includes visits to the Chinese operations of two Rockville-based companies and Marriott China, in addition to meetings with government offici

By Anne Bartlett  |  October 2, 2008; 10:05 AM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow , Montgomery County  
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Well that's one county employee's salary wasted on a futile trip to a foreign country that has as much bad American investments as it can manage.

It amazes me how these buffoons think their site-seeing adventure will recoup anything close to what the travel agents suggest.

Posted by: Ike's Travels = Big Bucks | October 2, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ike's Travels - That is a frightening way of looking at it! You're right though; how many county employees could benefit from that money?

Posted by: Liz | October 2, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

now montgomery county can finally trade with korea...

Posted by: finally | October 2, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Appalling - just apalling. Add this to his $63,000 private bathroom and you could probably keep quite a few people off the furlough list.
How many people is he taking and, more importantly, are they flying coach? Business? First class?

Posted by: Silver Spring | October 2, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Take heed, MoCo employees. Wonder why there's an strong and urgent push to get employees to work 4 ten hour days but not cut back on the hours the County offices are open? Wonder why the current flex schedules allowing 9 hour work days are not permitted? Wonder why the ten hour work schedule will have no impact on reducing the budget shortfall? Because the next time you're told to take a furlough day- and you will be asked- you'll be giving up 10 hours of pay instead of 8. Two extra hours of many employees pay will impact the budget. Be very afraid...

Posted by: luvtogarden | October 2, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

A trade trip to China and Korea -- two economies that are still strong -- seems to be the smartest thing a leader could do right now. This economic downturn will pass and investing now for our future economic growth is what leaders do -- even at some political risk.(Unfortunately, there seem to be a number of short-sighted folks who can't look beyond today). Seems to me, the cost of the trip is small compared to what the payoff will be if even one company brings their business to Montgomery County.

Posted by: scrabble1 | October 2, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem with Leggett representing MoCo in Asia and the Middle East as long as his mission has objectives and the trips are focused on achieving those objectives. China, the sleeping economic giant, has awakened...anyone who cannot see this is just in denial.

China and Saudi Arabia now own most of America's debt paper. People, just do the math...they need to invest that somewhere. That being said, the price tag for the trip is much LESS than I would have expected considering the weakened U.S. dollar (against foreign currencies). Leggett has been a magnet of sorts for criticism from the MD GOP, surely political sour grapes, though I hope not racially-motivated at all. While not perfect in his decisions, I hope Leggett can do some good on this and other trade-oriented travels. Maryland (MoCo) specifically is a national leader in several areas, but must NOT become complacent...but absolutely needs to stay competitive.

Posted by: donny | October 3, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

County Executive Leggett, who gave us the biggest property tax increase in 20 years this year, will give us the biggest property tax increase in 21 years citing, "deficits" in ever-larger budgets. Vote FOR B!

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Ropbin Realty | October 3, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

When will the Post be as interested in Jerry Weast's travel time and costs as they are in Leggett's? Weast has spent huge sums on travel and is gone from MoCo a large part of the time, promoting himself. To the Post writers and editors: show us you are impartial: write about Weast's travel and his travel costs in 2008 to date.

Posted by: freestategal | October 5, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

$38000 trip, $65,000 bathroom???? But yet Leggett wants each county employee to surrender two days of their pay and has increased our taxes. Teachers were just turned down for raise and the police had to fight to keep their raise this year. What benefit would brining ONE company from over seas do for the average tax payer??? Do the math...that over $100,000 for one persons personal benefit. That is the equivelant to 2 teachers or cops starting salaries for one year. I didn't vote for Leggett in the past and I won't in the future. Enjoy your trip IKE!!!!!

Posted by: Gman | October 8, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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