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First-Class Feminist: Tolbert’s Luxury Politics

Kim Tolbert, First Class Tray Service
First Class Service | Image by Thorsten Schmitt/Shutterstock; Interim City Manager Kimberly Tolbert | Image by Kimberly Tolbert

Interim City Manager Kim Tolbert is dodging questions from The Dallas Express about her first-class travel to feminist conferences and ‘Equity and Inclusion’ luncheons, which have cost taxpayers upwards of $5,000.

DX recently obtained travel expenses from Tolbert’s office. Amongst the roughly 300 pages of jet-setting was an expense report filed for a first-class ticket to the International Women’s Forum in 2023. The association was formed by Muriel Fox and other prominent feminists in the 1970s.

Although it has honored women like Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, the forum most often confers its Women Who Make a Difference award to feminist activists like lawyer Gloria Allred, author Betty Friedan, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Tolbert’s entry fee for the four-day conference, which City taxpayers covered, cost $2,445. She flew first class both ways to the event in Detroit, costing $335 in total. Her estimated per-diem cost documents sat slightly above the GSA (General Services Administration) recommended rate of $145 per day. Documents indicate she estimated her costs at $166 per day.

Confusingly, Tolbert’s “Travel Request and Approval Form” lists Austin, Texas, as her destination despite Detroit being the conference site. Nevertheless, her trip, which lasted from October 3 to 7, was approved for an estimated cost of over $4,000.

The event included lectures on “coping, transcending, and contributing to solutions to respond to health and wealth gaps, ethnic tensions and cultural conflicts, or climate crises.”

After addresses from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Stephanie Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation, attendees were treated to lectures on the contributions of women of color, such as Diana Ross’ contributions to the music industry.

Again paying homage to The Supremes in the itinerary, attendees were invited to a lecture titled “‘Baby Love’: Environmental Impacts on Child Development” that focused on raising healthy children. Despite the “early morning walks” with “IWF sisters” and “[listening] as your IWF sisters share their ideas for remaking the world and transforming their communities,” and the nobility of wanting to raise healthy kids, there was less than a handful of activities that included information that could be strictly construed as relevant to the interests of governance and city management.

An exhaustive list of the activities that could meet this standard includes a lecture on how self-driving cars will change transportation and the regulation of AI. Both of these events occurred on the last day.

This trip was immediately preceded by another to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) on October 1-2, 2023. At the ICMA conference, which was held in Austin, Tolbert’s itinerary included an “Equity & Inclusion Leaders Luncheon” and an “Alvies Boot Party.”

This trip cost around $1,200, and the six days of events combined cost Dallas taxpayers over $5,200.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs have long been an interest of Tolbert’s, as previously reported by DX. She frequently tweets about DEI, and a prior DX investigation revealed that she had played an organizing role for DEI-inspired City programs during her tenure in previous positions.

DX reached out to Tolbert to seek comment on why the expense of these trips and the topics presented were in the interest of the City of Dallas. She did not respond.

It is unclear if the interim city manager still receives DX requests for comment via email, as she has blocked The Dallas Express on other mediums like Twitter. This possibly unconstitutional action followed an expose by DX that revealed Tolbert’s history of engaging with militant anti-police and racial content on X.

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