According to the Press, which is really killing it on this story, it wasn’t to meet with airline officials.
Houston City Council Member Helena Brown issued a press release Wednesday touting her recent trip to Asia, which she funded with $11,000 in public money, as a “successful business trip” — but it’s become clear her journey to Asia was anything but, and, in fact, completely different than the city’s official trip to bring direct flights from several Asian capitols to Houston.
Brown, who represents thousands of South Koreans in District A, was initially invited by Houston Airport System Director, Mario Diaz, to go to Korea and meet airlines there, but weeks ago, those airlines cancelled meetings with Diaz, who subsequently called off the trip. Brown, however, did not, continuing on to Korea — but for unofficial purposes.
What’s more, after she booked her $11,000 ticket to Asia, she launched a separate fundraising campaign in the local South Korean business community to raise donations for what, by all appearances, appears to have been a vacation trip to Korea.
She did not meet with any Korean airlines, City Secretary Jessica Michan told the Houston Press. Nor did she accompany Diaz in any part of his itinerary, which involved meeting aviation officials in Beijing and in Taipei, said Darian Ward, a Houston Airport System spokesperson.
It’s unclear what, if anything, Brown accomplished while in Asia. Her office did not return repeated interview requests, and even Michan displayed frustration at her reticence, saying, “It’s her. She really needs to answer these questions. She’s the one who needs to explain why she ended up going.”
Well, she did visit the demilitarized zone, according to the story. I’ve done that myself – I accompanied Tiffany to Seoul in 2001 where she was attending a conference, and took a packaged bus tour from the hotel we were in to the DMZ. I concur that it’s a profound experience, but I bought my own ticket for it. I can’t wait to hear what comes next in this story, which by the way has gone national as correctly predicted by Peter in the comments. Maybe someone outside Houston can get her to do more than just issue statements about what she’s doing.