Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Seoul sister: Strickland to return to her birth city during 10-day Asian tour

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Feb. 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm with 5 Comments »
February 23, 2011 3:41 pm

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is returning to her roots — some 5,200 miles away.

For the first time since her family moved to America nearly five decades ago, Strickland will travel to the city of her birth, Seoul, South Korea.

“It’s my first trip to Seoul, basically since I was born,” the mayor told me recently.

Strickland’s visit to her birthplace is the first leg of the mayor’s three-city Asian tour to promote Tacoma abroad. From Seoul, the mayor’s 10-day trip, which begins tomorrow, will include stops in Shanghai and Fuzhou, China. The mayor will meet various dignitaries in all three cities along the way.

“The purpose of my trip is to make business contacts, cultivate relationships and promote Tacoma as a good place to invest,” Strickland said.

During her travels, Strickland also plans to share highlights from her recent state of the city address, and to “discuss Tacoma’s favorable business climate (access to rail, the port, availability of land, low utility rates, a workforce with experience in manufacturing, a strong higher education system).”

Although the mayor will be traveling on official city business, she and other city officials said she won’t incur any expenses on the taxpayer’s dime.

Strickland, who is traveling alone to Seoul, will be flying for free, thanks to the frequent-flyer miles of Lakewood businessman Ron Chow.

Chow, a co-founder and president of Seattle Pacific Trading who’s now involved with Tacoma’s World Trade Center, is a frequent business traveler to China who has organized various trade delegations for Washington politicians. He has taken an interest in Tacoma’s international trading potential and plans to meet up with Strickland during her stop in Shanghai, she said.

“I am paying for lodging and incidentals,” Strickland added.

From Shanghai, the mayor will travel to Tacoma’s sister city – Fuzhou – before returning home on March 6.

While in Fuzhou, which recently gifted to Tacoma a pavilion for the city’s new Chinese reconciliation park, Strickland will rendezvous with Debbie Bingham, the city’s representative to the Sister Cities International program.

(Like with Strickland, none of the travel expenses for Bingham’s trip, which is a separate trip organized by the Sister Cities program, are being paid for by the city, city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff told me today.)

While serving as a city council member two years ago, Strickland traveled to South Korea during a goodwill trip to another of Tacoma’s sister cities, Gunsan. But the mayor has never set foot in her birth city since leaving it when she was about one and half years old, she said.

Born to a Korean mother and an African-American father stationed in Korea while serving in the Army, Strickland and her family moved from Seoul to the United States, eventually settling in South Tacoma when her father was transferred to Fort Lewis when she was four.

“I still have a cousin who lives in Seoul,” Strickland added. “… I am definitely going to spend time with her while I’m there.”

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. PumainTacoma says:

    Stop the insanity with these paid “find my birth” trips to Asia. We are broke!!! And yet the city can go to Asia and pay for a bloated Pagoda at taxpayer’s expense?

    Unbelievable waste of money. If China wants the mayor they can pay, not the taxpayers.

    Where is our Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) when we need someone to rein in expenses. We just have political cowards.

    http://www.mofopolitics.com/2011/02/23/chris-christie-on-morning-joe-22311/

  2. slarssen says:

    I think that reading is a beautiful thing prior to making comments such as the one above. I caught this little gem while reading the entire article:

    “Although the mayor will be traveling on official city business, she and other city officials said she won’t incur any expenses on the taxpayer’s dime.”

    Let’s try and read the whole thing and follow that up with accurate and informed commentary. Thanks.

  3. nokoolaide says:

    The city is paying her salary, and there is business here that is more important than these 10 day trips that are really nothing more than a vacation. Flying on mr. Chow’s frequent flyer miles is a “gift” that public officals are not supposed to accept. Conflict of interest written all over it.

  4. So, if she can bring in more business for the Port of Tacoma and the state by going on this trip (at no additional cost to you), would it still be a “waste?” I also don’t see the quote from Ron about how he is using frequent flier miles to pay for Mayor Strickland’s flight(s); can you explain where that came from?

  5. olympicmtn says:

    Strickland, who is traveling alone to Seoul, will be flying for free, thanks to the frequent-flyer miles of Lakewood businessman Ron Chow.

    REALLY — quid pro quo going on here is the Mayor going to note this on her Public Disclosure Form?

    Chow, a co-founder and president of Seattle Pacific Trading who’s now involved with Tacoma’s World Trade Center, is a frequent business traveler to China who has organized various trade delegations for Washington politicians. He has taken an interest in Tacoma’s international trading potential and plans to meet up with Strickland during her stop in Shanghai, she said.

    “I am paying for lodging and incidentals,” Strickland added.

    SO WE ARE NOT PAYING YOUR SALARY, FOOD, TRANSPORTATION, TAXI FARES? I don’t buy it.

    From Shanghai, the mayor will travel to Tacoma’s sister city – Fuzhou – before returning home on March 6.

    While in Fuzhou, which recently gifted to Tacoma a pavilion for the city’s new Chinese reconciliation park, Strickland will rendezvous with Debbie Bingham, the city’s representative to the Sister Cities International program.

    GIFTED? Then why are the taxpayers footing the bill for the Pagoda overruns?

    There is still more pressing work at home. Sounds like a boondoggle.

*
We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0