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Trip to China, Japan by Cerritos, Artesia, Santa Monica Council members Raise Eyebrows

By Randy Economy 


Cerritos Councilwoman Carol Chen (first left), Cerritos Councilman Bruce Barrows (next to Chen), Artesia Councilman Tony Lima (Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O'Connor (far right) and Artesia City Councilman Tony Lima (next to O'Connor) seen with the other delegation members riding a high speed train last week in Japan. Photo submitted to LCCN by Councilwoman Chen.


trip to China and Japan this past week led by two Cerritos City Council members has raised questions about how the trip was funded, and if the public was ever properly notified and informed about the details.

Cerritos City Council members Carol Chen and Bruce Barrows led a delegation that included Artesia City Councilman Tony Lima, as well as Santa Monica Councilwoman Pam O’Connor as well as a private business owner, a Chinese bank branch manager, and two other government agencies.

The trip also included an official meeting at the United States Embassy in Beijing, sightseeing tours and dinners, with organizers, Spring International.

Participating in the seven night trip was Cerritos resident Rosalinda Law, a member of the Cerritos Economic Development Commission, Mike Kodama, Orange Line Development Authority Executive Director and Norman Arakawa, Assistant Director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles. Also attending is Cathy Li, a branch manager of Chinese Wing Lung Bank as well as Linda Fowells, Executive Vice President of Community Partners.

In a statement issued by Chen prior to their departure, the Cerritos Councilwoman claims that the group’s main goal is to “study trade and transportation.” “The delegation will meet with automotive, clean energy and retail industries,” Chen said.  They are scheduled to return to Los Angeles this Saturday.

But in documents obtained exclusively by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, the trip includes “scenic” tourist visits, limousine buses, river boat cruises of the water front of Shanghai, private tours of the Great Wall of China, as well as hotel accommodations at some of Asia’s most exclusive resorts.

LCCN was sent brightly color brochures, produced by the City of Cerritos that promotes the trip that also solicits and “encourages” other local Southern California elected officials to participate in the excursion.

“The City of Cerritos is pleased to present an exciting opportunity in which a delegation of local elected officials and business leaders from Southern California will be able to cultivate these relationships. Participants will travel to major cities in China and Japan to meet with leaders in the automotive, clean energy, retail and transportation industries.”

“In our modern environment of economic globalization the success of our economic endeavors is directly affected by our exposure to business opportunities at all levels-local, domestic, and international,” the promotional materials state.

“The best opportunities often are dependent upon the business relationships that are cultivated through mutual interests, which do not recognize international borders.  The relationships usually cannot be developed in the course of regular business, but must be sought, identified and pursued proactively,” the mission statement of the group that is listed as “Southern California Elected Officials Economic Development and High Speed Rail Delegation to China and Japan.”


Following their arrival this past Saturday, the marketing material for the event states “after this long transpacific voyage, it’s a pleasure to settle into your accommodations.”

The promotional tour brochure also touts of “corporate sponsorship opportunities” for the Delegation.

“At the corporate sponsorship level, each participant will receive a one-page biographical description and a brief written description of his/her company (in both English and Chinese) in the delegation’s promotional package. The company logo and name will appear on all promotional materials. In addition, participants will be invited to attend all business meetings and receptions with the delegation, and will find opportunities to present their companies to high-level transportation officials and industry leaders in China and Japan.”

A “bilingual tour guide” was expected to meet Chen, Barrows, Lima, O’Connor and the delegation at which  time they “were transferred by air conditioned coach tour to the reserved Sunworld Dynasty Beijing,” one of the “top 3-Star Rated Hotels in Asia.”

The delegation also has a formal meeting in Beijing  with China’s Ministry of Railways Planning Director Zhang Jianping.

Last August, a high-speed train accident in Wenzhou, China killed more  than 40 people and Zhang was at the center of a firestorm about how the Communist government officials handled the tragedy.  The Wall Street Journal reported after the deadly crash government “censors silenced the news media’s dogged reporting on railway negligence and corruption, then starting censoring posts on micro blogs that has stoked outrage over the crash.”

Another meeting slated included a visit with Ida Peng, Executive Director of the American Rail Working Group at the United States Embassy in Beijing.

On Tuesday they arrived in Tianjin, China via a high speed train for a meeting and a tour of the Tianjin Economic Development Area, and a visit with Cloud Computer Base Company.

On Wednesday the Delegation whisked off to Shanghai for a planned morning meeting with officials from SAIC Motor Corporation, Ltd. In the afternoon, according to published travel plans “will have a Huangpu River cruise and will view of the Water Front in Shanghai.”

Chen, Barrows and the group were slated to meet with the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Corporation.  Barrows has been a staunch advocate of bringing a magnetic type train to Cerritos for the past two decades and has travelled extensively to Europe and Asian promoting the cause.

The group also planned to sit down and talk with Douglas Dong, from the Shanghai Foreign Investment Board and Overseas Investment Development, which is a subsidiary of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

On Friday, the group is expected to be in Tokyo, Japan, for a visit to the JR Central Shinkansen Control Center that oversees operation of that nation’s complex “bullet train” system.

The delegation also had a meeting planned with the Ministry of Land, Industry and Tourism as well as meeting with JR East, and or JR Central real estate division to discuss rail station development.

In a statement to Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, Chen said that “the delegation will experience and study the various modes of high speed rail technology including the bullet train, high speed trains and maglev as a basis of comparison to determine the best alternatives for implantation in California.”

Chen points out that “the trade mission was made possible by the collaboration of SCAG and Community Partners/VerdeXchange Institute.”  She also said that “individuals who are not government officials will be paying their own expenses.” But according to SCAG officials, at least $10,000 was approved to cover the expenses of Barrows and Santa Monica Councilwoman O’Connor for the trip during a Mar. 1st meeting of the Board of Directors of SCAG.

Cerritos City Manager Art Gallucci was scheduled to attend the excursion, but decided not to attend at the last minute.

Artesia City Manger Maria Dadian confirmed to LCCN that “no city funds from Artesia was used” towards the cost associated with Councilman Lima.  “As far as I know, Councilman Lima paid his own way and own expenses and that no city funds from Artesia were utilized.”

Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero, who is the President of the Orange Line Development Authority told Los Cerritos Community News in a statement on Wednesday afternoon through city public information officer Tom Lorenz that “Frank was asked by SCAG if he was interested to attend as a representative from Orangeline.”

“Frank initially was interested, but made no plans to attend this particular trip,” Lorenz said.

“Frank Quintero did say he has never had the opportunity to make the trip, but would find it valuable to see their operation.  He also mentioned, that if he did make plans on attending in the future, he wouldn’t necessarily travel on SCAG funds,” Lorenz said.

See official travel documents about the trip at:

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