Council Fattens Up 

Earlier this week City Council Chairman Barbara Swearengen Holt decided to raise the daily food allowance for traveling council members

Earlier this week City Council Chairman Barbara Swearengen Holt decided to raise the daily food allowance for traveling council members from $20 without receipts and $45 with receipts to $45 without receipts and $75 with receipts. Holt defends this decision by saying, “You can’t eat at McDonald’s for that,” referring to the daily meal allowance before it was increased. Actually, Chairman Holt, you can eat at McDonald’s quite a bit for that. At $20 a day, the previous amount without a receipt, a council member could eat five extra value meals (sandwich, fries and a drink, typically priced at $3.50) and have some change left over. If the council member was particularly hungry, they could opt to “supersize” their meal (for about 80 cents) and still eat four sandwiches, orders of fries and drink four soft drinks. If the council member elected to have an apple pie or a hot fudge sundae, they could only order four regular-sized extra value meals, but could have dessert three times a day. Similarly, at the previous $45 a day allowance with receipts, a council member could eat 12 extra value meals a day, ten if they wanted those meals supersized. (The Flyer would like to point out that most McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants will not charge a customer for their meal if the customer was not issued a receipt. Therefore, if a council member doesn’t get a receipt from McDonald’s, then they can eat 10 regular-sized extra value meals a day under the $20 per diem.) Under the new daily allowance, a council member that does not elect to supersize can eat 12 extra value meals a day without receipts (actually 24, if they tell a manager that they didn’t receive a receipt) and a whopping 21 regular sized extra value meals at the $75 rate, and still have some change for a sundae. (This, of course, is not to be confused with Burger King’s Whopper meal -- also a sandwich, fries and a drink -- which a council member could order about 18 times a day for $75.) If a council member were required to drive from Memphis to Los Angeles (though we doubt they’d be asked to) the council member could eat at 36 of the 78 McDonald’s along the way, if they stopped for a single value meal at each one on the approximately three day drive under the $45 previous allowance. But now, under the $75 allowance, a council member can stop 63 of the 78 restaurants and order a value meal at each in three days time. However, considering that the council member would be stopping so many times, it is doubtful that they would actually make it to Los Angeles in under a week. In seven days time, at $75 a day, a council member could eat at every single McDonald’s between here and Los Angeles twice, with ten of the restaurants getting three visits. With that much fast food, perhaps Holt should have given the council members national memberships to the YMCA too. (You can write Rebekah Gleaves at gleaves@memphisflyer.com)

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