Councilwoman under fire for out-of-state travel

Daily Post Staff Writer

A meeting of Los Altos City Council descended into shouting and interruptions during a discussion about Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng’s trips to out-of-state conferences, which she booked without talking to her colleagues first.

Vice Mayor Jonathan Weinberg accused Lee Eng of abusing the travel policy by staying five nights at a hotel for a three-day conference.

“My jaw dropped to the ground,” Weinberg said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Lee Eng traveled to Kansas City last November and to Washington D.C. in March for conferences held by the National League of Cities. 

She is planning on attending a third conference in Atlanta in November.

Altogether, the trips will cost the city $8,737, City Manager Gabriel Engeland said in a memo to council. 

The city budgets $3,500 per year for council travel, he said.

Lee Eng is the only council member to get reimbursed for out-of-state travel since Jan. 1, 2020, Engeland said. Lee Eng told council last year about the Kansas City trip, but she didn’t say she was going to Washington D.C. until she was already there. 

Council learned about the conference at their March 28 meeting, which Lee Eng attended virtually from her hotel.

Prior approval

The rest of council scheduled a discussion of the city’s travel policy. They said council should talk about conferences beforehand and decide who should go.

The existing travel policy for council members is short. 

It says that they can be reimbursed for travel and hotels for conferences related to their role. The only requirement is that they give a brief report on the meeting afterwards. 

“Everything that I’ve done was in compliance,” Lee Eng said at Tuesday’s meeting. “If I’m doing my best interest on behalf of the people, I shouldn’t be accused of abusing this policy.”

The conferences are valuable to learn from other cities, to meet fellow council members and to represent Los Altos, Lee Eng said.

“When you attend these conferences, it is amazing. You get reinvigorated,” she said.

‘Empathy training’

At the Washington D.C. conference, Lee Eng said she learned about how the American Rescue Plan helped cities, and Jill Biden talked about the importance of education. Council members from other cities told her about the benefits of “empathy training,” something she has been pushing for in Los Altos.

Closing events last until night time, so it’s useful to stay another night and fly out the next morning, Lee Eng said.

Lee Eng didn’t respond to phone calls and emails yesterday.

Lee Eng and Mayor Sally Meadows said they didn’t know the city had a budget for council travel, and $3,500 might not be realistic.

Councilwoman Neysa Fligor said she sees the value of going to conferences, but there should be more rules.

“How do we really ensure that we do have council members attending these conferences — and getting the value that council member Lee Eng is referring to, but not have it be abused, or not have it where only one council member is doing it?” Fligor asked.


  1. City Council members all receive individual invitations to California and National League of Cities Conferences. It is up to each member to decide if they want to attend, then check with the City Manager and/or City Clerk to confirm if fees are to be paid directly by the City or by the member (and reimbursed via an expense report). The City Manager may have internally budgeted for conferences, but there was never a “limit” communicated to council during my tenure. Council members usually report on information received that is helpful to the City and colleagues. Council member Weinberg might wish to climb off his high horse and check the facts before he lashes out at a colleague in public.

    • Conferences are valuable and she should be a role model. Of course spending should be reasonable. I’m glad she’s learning from leaders and other cities across the country. Her attendance surely helps the community have the best possible ideas and systems. Ideally the conference pays for itself in all the benefits that ensue.

  2. Just because Eng complied with the rules doesn’t mean that she followed the spirit of the rules. She is a public servant and she should be transparent and forthright at all times. She should also be cognizant of the City’s travel budget.

  3. This is just another smear by the crowd that has run out city for decades. Weinberg is just another goon from this squad. Lynette Eng and residents deserve better from city council and their donors and supporters.

    Frank Martin

    • [Post deleted for Terms of Service violation. Commenter is using more than one name. Please, no sock puppets.]

  4. It’s not the first time Councilman Weinberg has publicly lashed out against a fellow council member without having all the facts and it won’t be his last.

    • [Post deleted for Terms of Service violation. Commenter is using more than one name. Please, no sock puppets.]

  5. How do you get to 5 nights for a 3 day conference…arrive night before, stay to the end gets me to 4 nights. Is there a typo in the story?

    • [Post deleted for Terms of Service violation. Commenter is using more than one name. Please, no sock puppets.]

    • What did she do with the other day that the tax-paying residents of Los Altos funded? Political networking in support of her NIMBY anti-housing organization, “Our Neighborhood Voices?” And is that why the recently voted-out one-term councilmember Enander came to LLE’s defense as the first commenter? Is it because Enander did the same thing on the tax-payer dime? Enquiring Los Altans want to know.

  6. Once again LLE does something wrong, can’t take accountability, and instead unleashes her minions to pollute the information space and turn chambers into a toxic nightmare with ad hominem attacks and baseless accusations, never once addressing the facts of the story as reported. The previous commenter, Frank Martin, was one of LLE’s biggest campaign contributors.

  7. Council member Weinbergand the other council members should consider getting out of the office and spending their time to see how other cities in our country operate rather than throwing stones at the one council member taking the job seriously.

    • Yes, we have 5 council members so we should see them spend $50K altogether as they investigate random associations of governments of all types. The Mississippi association of Elected Officials might have something that Los Altos could learn from. Or maybe Florida or Hawaii. I guess $50K might not be enough if the travelers go to Hawaii or maybe hey, how about China or Germany?

      We don’t need any discretion to be used, just let whichever council member wants do whatever. No need for any kind of fiscal concern.

    • Morely,
      EXACTLY! Lynette is the only council member who is working for the residents. She does not have higher political aspirations as one member has and she is not beholden to any special interest group or groups; nor is she supported by downtown property owners. She has no personal agenda other than to represent the every day residents like me. The majority council doesn’t bat an eye at spending thousands of dollars on myriad “consultants”. If she spent a few hundred bucks more (so far unsubstantiated) to learn how to be a better, more effective council person, than I applaud her.

      • A shout out to Florence …..

        I’m a big fan of your work on the Brady Bunch!

        What have you been doing lately?

  8. I think this points out a need for a bit of organization on the part of the council as to approving travel for council members.

  9. Why does she have to check with colleagues before taking a trip? She doesn’t work for them. She works for the people who elected her into office. Since when do employees check with their co-workers if they should attend a conference? Employees discuss with their supervisors. In Lee’s case, her supervisors are the people. If the people are unhappy with her attending conferences, they can vote her out.

    • I think the main thing is that the total includes $3,000 from a 3rd trip that hasn’t happened yet so there’s time for the council to cut that nonsense out and also adopt some kind of limit as to how many trips just one of the 5 can partake in.

  10. Maybe I misunderstand this, but isn’t Lee Eng the council conservative. They preach frugality in government. If so, then why is she jetting around on the taxpayer’s dime?

  11. So Lee Eng recognized the council’s policy on travel was flawed. She had two choices —

    1. bring the policy to the attention of her fellow council members so it could be corrected


    2. continue to take advantage of the flaw by running up the tab.

    What would an honest public official choose?

    Which one did she choose?

  12. This nothing less than a brouhaha over nothing to distract from the real issues.

    Weinberg, Meadows, and their coterie (Bruins, Mordo, Prochnow, Fligor, and the behind-the-scenes operators: Cole, Cranston, Roode, Beninato) have cost Los Altos and its taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. With MORE coming down the pipe. At all times, they (in various configurations) outvoted, outnumbered Ms Eng and/or others. Talk of State Capture: what we have in Los Altos is City Capture.

    And here we have Weinberg concerned about Ms Eng “running up the tab”? What we need is for the State Bar to investigate Fligor and Weinberg’s abuse of their attorney licenses.

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