$16 Muffins!

Looks like there is a brewing scandal at the Justice Department. They’ve been spending $16 for meeting muffins. I don’t mean meeting muffins in the 1940s slang way, in which case $16 would be a baragain. I mean muffins they eat at conferences. Because you can’t discuss justice without a tasty muffin.

While undoubtedly a blueberry-infested banana nut scandal, a little context doesn’t hurt. $350,000,000 could buy a lot of extra $16 muffins.

However, one nice thing about the $300+ million dollar F-22s and the $16 muffins is at least we know what they cost. The DoD budget, generally, remains largely opaque.

Background Music: Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man. I’m having to trust that Google is giving me a good link, as I can’t check it.

18 Responses

  1. As someone who bakes a lot, I can only laugh at the idea of any meeting planner charging such prices and getting away with it. MrJS eats home-baked goods every morning for breakfast and I'm kicking myself I didn't sell them to the gummint instead and made him eat cereal.

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  2. From scat's link:"The IG's report allocates $4,200 for the muffins but also noted 15 gallons of complimentary coffee, 30 gallons of complimentary ice tea and 200 pieces of free fruit included in the overall price of $39,360.The IG says that the total cost per person at the reception was $14.74 – 2 cents over the allowable Justice Department limit. Totaling up the items in the IG's report, the 534 attendees over five days were given 1,150 pastries, 1,350 pieces of candy and fruit, 1,250 cups of coffee and tea and 250 soft drinks."I worked in conference planning for 15 years at a 5-star hotel in Detroit. There is no such thing as "complimentary" coffee. They were probably charged a per-person price for a package of refreshments, which is usual and typical. The conference site may tell the client that they will keep the coffee pots full at no extra charge, but it's not free. It's priced into the package.

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  3. A little more from Forbes (should have kept reading…)"The report referenced the $16 muffins half a dozen times and it said their cost was one of many food items that "appeared extravagant and potentially wasteful."Not so, Hilton Worldwide said in a statement Thursday."In Washington, the contracted breakfast included fresh fruit, coffee, juice, muffins, tax and gratuity, for an inclusive price of $16 per person," Hilton Worldwide said in a statement."Dining receipts are often abbreviated and do not reflect the full pre-contracted menu and service provided, as is the case with recent media reports of breakfast items approved for some government meetings," Hilton Worldwide's statement added."

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  4. scat: "It says the report misinterpreted its invoices, which often use shorthand and don't reflect the full menu and service provided."I've been there before. Hilton should clarify its invoices, if it's unclear how much was paid for a muffin. That being said, having recently done a conference catered by Hilton (first time I've done one) . . . it's good stuff. Maybe not $16 muffin good, but definitely not cheap.

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  5. @kevin: The IG should compare the Hilton invoice to the Hilton contract, and they would then see a package price, not a muffin price.

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  6. Public announcements of these sorts of audits . . . I dunno. Politics. This isn't about legitimately auditing out-of-control expenses (and maybe such conferences are government-funded vacations, maybe they aren't), but public announcements is to feed the partisan noise machine. If you ask me. 😉

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  7. I agree with you, Kevin. This is solely to feed the noise.

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  8. "MrJS eats home-baked goods every morning for breakfast"My esteem for MsJS continues to rise.Luckily, I have a young daughter who seems to be enamored of cooking and baking — cupcakes, cakes, muffins, cookies — but especially baking pies. I just told my mom last weekend that she has to start baking pies with my daughter to pass on a couple of old family recipes. Not that I have ulterior motives or anything.

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  9. QB, I have a bake-aholic niece. She's at college now, but we still get together 2-3 times a year and bake all day long with chick flicks on the TV in the background.MrJS is content to stay in his office until the timer goes off, and then he magically appears. If folks like you and he didn't have 'ulterior motives,' there'd be far less of a reason to bake.

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  10. Yum.I am especially angling to get my mom to teach my daughter how to make an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe called Schnitz Pie (made from dried apples). There are some bad ones out there, but, made right, my goodness. Best way is in unglazed turnover pies ("hand pies") … the old-fashioned way with lard crust. Haven't had that in thirty years at least.

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  11. Lard Crust? Add that to the list of reasons health care is so expensive. Did I mention my wife is a dietician? This means my sweets tend to be significantly less sweet than most others. Although as she has started to bake more and more, she has gravitated further and further away from healthy alternatives and realized that fat is necessary for most recipes.

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  12. Bah! Talk to some old-time pie bakers. Lard, baby.My mom even went on a lard strike, though, just because she says she can't get good lard any more. It's true, good bakers can do some decent things with oil, etc., but lard is almost irreplaceable. I'm convinced most of the health scare over the old fats is baseless, too. Hydrogenated oils, etc., now that's some bad stuff.

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  13. Re: lard. I refer you to the title of this blog, in regards to it's supposed unhealthfulness.All things in moderation. No, you should not be consuming 2000 calories of lard in a a day. A little in the crust of a single piece of pie for dessert? Perfection.

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  14. Bingo, although a "single" piece should be open to interpretation.

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  15. I was kidding about the lard comment. The moderation comment is my wife's constant piece of advice. You can eat whatever you want if you are smart about it. You can even it more of something than you should if you make sacrifices elsewhere whether that is working out or skimping on calories elsewhere.

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  16. I keep reading "balloon juice" in the "sites to visit" as Bacon Juice before I stop and take a look at it. If we ever do have to start over again, we should call our new site Bacon Juice. Mmmm.

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  17. As someone who is involved in conference organization (co-chair of an organic solar cells conference), it is not possible to do it on the cheap. It is known now that these weren't $16 muffins, but it was $16 for a breakfast service. Big big difference. Not cheap, but not unreasonable.In case anyone wonders why fed workers get discouraged, try being a piñata for public opinion. I spent 20 years as a shining example (research physicist in an emerging technology). I then joined the federal government 8 years ago and achieved the remarkable feat of being transmagrofied into a leech. BB

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