Miami-Dade Commission Vice-Chairwoman Lynda Bell and Commissioner Audrey Edmonson were conspicuously absent from a high-profile April meeting setting a referendum for the Miami Dolphins.
They were traveling in Asia.
Edmonson and Bell were part of a 14-member delegation from PortMiami and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce that visited Singapore and Hong Kong as part of a nine-day trip -- planned weeks before the Dolphins meeting was scheduled -- to drum up business for the county.
Included in their Singapore itinerary was a briefing with Resorts World Sentosa and a dinner with Resorts World Miami. Both companies are linked to Genting, the Malaysian casino giant who has purchased the former Miami Herald building and other downtown Miami properties.
Other stops: a tour of the Port of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, meetings with economic development boards and chambers of commerce and sit-downs with cargo companies.
The estimated cost to taxpayers: nearly $13,000, according to travel request forms both commissioners submitted to the county before departing. In addition to Edmonson and Bell, Bell's chief of staff, Eddie Borrego, also made the trip.
Bell, as chairwoman of the commission's economic development and PortMiami committee, was particularly interested in meeting with cargo companies that generate significant port revenue and that Miami is wooing to try to keep here and to grow their presence, her office said. Negotiations with Genting are ongoing for potential ferry services from the port.
The final total won't be finalized until the county reimburses the commissioners for all of their expenses.