Almanac

News - April 30, 2014

Menlo Park mayor plans summer visit to China

by Sandy Brundage

It's not quite on the same historical scale as President Richard Nixon's visit, but Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller is pretty excited about plans to spend nearly two weeks in China this summer — provided the Fair Political Practices Commission bestows its blessings on the endeavor.

If all goes smoothly, Mr. Mueller and possibly nine other Silicon Valley mayors will depart June 16 for a working tour of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan.

Last year, $1 billion in high-tech investment came to the United States from China, according to Mr. Mueller. This year the figure could reach $6 billion. The trip will include meeting with government officials, high-tech business leaders and investors as well as workers.

After meeting with other mayors and Chinese Consul General Yuan Nansheng on April 17, Mr. Mueller said, he's heard from entrepreneurs interested in fostering investment and other opportunities in Menlo Park.

With the area's reputation for venture capital development, "it seems to me that it makes sense to try to promote our city and our region as a place that capital can flow to for these kinds of investments," he said. "If there's money in China that wants to go and invest in the U.S. and go and invest in tech, it's going to go somewhere. So I'd like to have that discussion so we can all prosper from it."

Organized with the assistance of China Silicon Valley, the estimated $50,000 trip for the 10 mayors would be paid for by the American Asian Economic and Cultural Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, based in China.

FPPC Communications Director Jay Wierenga said the commission does not comment on specific cases, but pointed to a section of the Political Reform Act that appears to allow travel expenses to be paid by 501(c)3 nonprofits and foreign equivalents.

Will this spark a new Menlo Park tradition of globe-traveling mayors? "Peter got to go to Ireland," Mr. Mueller noted, referring to fellow councilman and then-mayor Peter Ohtaki's trip to Galway in 2013.

Comments

Posted by Boondoggle Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

Bad idea. This is political influence. Just because other cities drink this kool-aid boondoggle doesn't mean Mayor Ray Mueller shouldn't pay for his share. He should set a positive example.


Posted by tradition, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

A tradition of sharing ideas across cultures and continents sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, this article is free of meaningful consent. Bring on the pointless mud slinging from the town jesters.


Posted by Seriously?, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Seriously Boondoggle Bob? You want the mayor, who is one of the hardest working mayors we have ever had, who volunteers countless hours away from his family for near no compensation, to pay thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to promote investment in the city and trade regionally on an Int'l trip? I think it reflects so positively on the mayor that he has asked the FPPC to approve the trip prior to going. I know allies of the envious may attempt to throw stones, but we are so lucky to have this mayor represent us. Every time I turn around I either read about or hear about something he is doing to help our community. Just leave him alone.


Posted by interesting, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Good Lord. Really? A four city tour in China? And just what makes these 11 such a choice? Business leaders? Industry leaders?

Just a gift. Whatever happened to humility in office?

"I need to go to China and reach out on a global scale," said the "unelected" but appointed mayor of Menlo Park.

Maybe next year the next mayor can get a shuttle to the moon and call it universal relations?

Such a joke. One vote lost.


Posted by Good point, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

You were right tradition. Here come the ugly trolls to throw mud on a great thing.





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