Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More on Connie Morris

Following up on Connie Morris's decision to refund some of the costs of her trip to the magnet school conference. The Salina Journal digs deeper, with help from retiree Frank Smith:
Smith obtained receipts and documentation Morris filed with the state to be reimbursed for the trip. The records show that Morris stayed at a Days Inn in Denver on April 15, flew out of Denver at 6:35 a.m. the following day, stayed six nights at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach, and then returned home April 23.

The receipts include a $147 cab fare from the Fort Lauderdale airport to the hotel and back. But Smith is skeptical. He notes that Morris indicated she rented a car for the trip, and some of her travel movement seems to confirm that.

“I’ve already registered, made hotel, flight and car rental arrangements,” Morris wrote in a letter to the state board staff as she was preparing for the trip. And in a margin note explaining her flight to Fort Lauderdale, rather than Miami, where the resort hotel is located, Morris wrote, “Tickets to Fort Lauderdale were less expensive than into Miami. I plan to rent a car.”

The car or the cab?

Smith contends Morris’ movements while in Florida suggest she rented a car.

“The estimated arrival time at Ft. Lauderdale for Mrs. Morris and her husband was 2:47 p.m. on April 16,” Smith wrote in a letter to Steve Abrams, chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education. “At 3:53 p.m., she was having a meal at the Subway in Hollywood, five miles from the airport and next to the I-95 on-ramp.” He notes she checked into the hotel at 6:09 p.m.

Almost three hours later she bought another dinner at Islamorada, in the Florida Keys.

“It seems somewhat implausible that Mrs. Morris and her husband took a cab five miles to a freeway on-ramp, ate an early dinner while the cab waited, then took another two-plus hours to check in at the hotel,” Smith wrote. “They then turned up two hours and 38 minutes later, 93 miles south of the Fontainebleau when they paid a restaurant tab after a substantial dinner.”
There's more. A good little piece of investigative journalism.