California Supreme Court Rules Advise of Attorney No Defense Against Conflict-of-Interest Charges

Share:

In a decision that is likely to have strong reverberations in Davis, the California Supreme Court ruled this week that public officials may be guilty of violations of conflict of interest laws even when a city attorney advises them that their actions are legal.

According to a February 9, 2007 Los Angeles Times article:

“A public official is not required to know that his conduct is unlawful” to be found to have broken the law, Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote for the court. “Therefore, reliance on advice of counsel as to the lawfulness of the conduct is irrelevant.”

The defendant was charged with violating Government Code section 1090 by holding a financial interest in a contract made by the public agency of which she was a member.

The defendant then claimed “entrapment by estoppel defense.” Entrapment-by-estoppel is an “affirmative defense” that “is available when a government official has actively misled a defendant into a reasonable belief that his or her charged conduct is legal.”

The court rejected this claim. In part this rejection was based on the specific situation of the individual who was a council member and the attorney served at their pleasure.

The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by “claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure,” the court said.

Otherwise, a public official could “insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks.”

However, they also ruled much more generally on this question so as to appear to apply to all cases where an individual used the advise of counsel as insulation against prosecution for conflicts of interest.

“Private attorneys interpret and advise their clients on the application of statutes under all kinds of circumstances. Yet the average citizen cannot rely on a private lawyer’s erroneous advice as a defense to a general intent crime.”

“The defense of action taken in good faith, in reliance upon the advice of a reputable attorney that it was lawful, has long been rejected. The theory is that this would place the advice of counsel above the law and would place a premium on counsel’s ignorance or indifference to the law.” (People v. Chacon).

This ruling is particularly germane at this moment to the General Plan Housing Commission Steering Committee. The question arose on Thursday about the issue of conflict of interest.

Former Davis City Councilmember and Committee Member Mike Harrington said at the meeting, “Some people in this room stand to make tens of millions of dollars from our decisions.”

According to the Davis Enterprise:

“Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of 15, said Bob Wolcott, Davis’ principal planner. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote unless there was a good reason to put housing on a property he or she had a financial interest in.”

At the time of yesterday’s story, we found this an unconvincing argument.

An individual city councilmember is just one of five, and yet anytime a discussion comes within 500 feet of their property they must recuse themselves.

The City is in the process of updating its Conflict-of-Interest code:

“Pursuant to Government Code Section 87302, the code will designate employees and officials who must disclose certain investments, income, interests in real property and business positions, and who must disqualify themselves from making or participating in the making of governmental decisions affecting those interests.”

This Supreme Court ruling then would appear to apply in this case. Just because Bob Wolcott says that Committee Members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves, does not make it so. Member of the steering committee despite the advice of City Planner Bob Wolcott and City Attorney Harriet Steiner, could still potentially face conflict of interest charges.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

84 thoughts on “California Supreme Court Rules Advise of Attorney No Defense Against Conflict-of-Interest Charges”

  1. Davisite

    The Steering Committee will be considering many options. The argument that a single member cannot sway the decision in their favor is without merit as each member’s input(including potential conflict
    of interest) influences the committee’s conclusions as they attempt to reach consensus and compromise. Financial gain, either direct or secondary, should not be allowed be play a role in these deliberations.

  2. Davisite

    The Steering Committee will be considering many options. The argument that a single member cannot sway the decision in their favor is without merit as each member’s input(including potential conflict
    of interest) influences the committee’s conclusions as they attempt to reach consensus and compromise. Financial gain, either direct or secondary, should not be allowed be play a role in these deliberations.

  3. Davisite

    The Steering Committee will be considering many options. The argument that a single member cannot sway the decision in their favor is without merit as each member’s input(including potential conflict
    of interest) influences the committee’s conclusions as they attempt to reach consensus and compromise. Financial gain, either direct or secondary, should not be allowed be play a role in these deliberations.

  4. Davisite

    The Steering Committee will be considering many options. The argument that a single member cannot sway the decision in their favor is without merit as each member’s input(including potential conflict
    of interest) influences the committee’s conclusions as they attempt to reach consensus and compromise. Financial gain, either direct or secondary, should not be allowed be play a role in these deliberations.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    “The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by “claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure,” the court said.

    “Otherwise, a public official could ‘insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks.'”

    Regardless of what the court ruled, it makes more sense, IMO, to just hold an attorney, city employee or private, liable if he gives his client factually wrong legal advice.

    The argument above is that an attorney would be tempted to shape his advice, depending on his employment status. Insofar as that is true, the law ought to give lawyers a very strong incentive to not do that.

    I think it would be outrageous, for example, if a businessman paid his lawyer for advice on the legality of a business practice — say something to do with complicated tax law — the lawyer said explicitly what he was doing was legal, and then the businessman, and not the lawyer, was sent to jail for violating the tax laws.

    The fact of the matter is that many laws are complicated. It is the very reason we have lawyers — to be experts in areas that we, as laymen, have no way to know what the state of the law is. As such, the lawyers in such cases ought to be held to much stiffer legal consequences if the advice they give is wrong.

    Of course, that should not mean that ill-gotten gains that come about as a result of faulty legal advice deserve to remain in the hands of the ill-gotten gainer. His punishment, at the very least, ought to be that any benefits he received from the wrong legal advice be returned or repaid in full.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    “The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by “claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure,” the court said.

    “Otherwise, a public official could ‘insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks.'”

    Regardless of what the court ruled, it makes more sense, IMO, to just hold an attorney, city employee or private, liable if he gives his client factually wrong legal advice.

    The argument above is that an attorney would be tempted to shape his advice, depending on his employment status. Insofar as that is true, the law ought to give lawyers a very strong incentive to not do that.

    I think it would be outrageous, for example, if a businessman paid his lawyer for advice on the legality of a business practice — say something to do with complicated tax law — the lawyer said explicitly what he was doing was legal, and then the businessman, and not the lawyer, was sent to jail for violating the tax laws.

    The fact of the matter is that many laws are complicated. It is the very reason we have lawyers — to be experts in areas that we, as laymen, have no way to know what the state of the law is. As such, the lawyers in such cases ought to be held to much stiffer legal consequences if the advice they give is wrong.

    Of course, that should not mean that ill-gotten gains that come about as a result of faulty legal advice deserve to remain in the hands of the ill-gotten gainer. His punishment, at the very least, ought to be that any benefits he received from the wrong legal advice be returned or repaid in full.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    “The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by “claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure,” the court said.

    “Otherwise, a public official could ‘insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks.'”

    Regardless of what the court ruled, it makes more sense, IMO, to just hold an attorney, city employee or private, liable if he gives his client factually wrong legal advice.

    The argument above is that an attorney would be tempted to shape his advice, depending on his employment status. Insofar as that is true, the law ought to give lawyers a very strong incentive to not do that.

    I think it would be outrageous, for example, if a businessman paid his lawyer for advice on the legality of a business practice — say something to do with complicated tax law — the lawyer said explicitly what he was doing was legal, and then the businessman, and not the lawyer, was sent to jail for violating the tax laws.

    The fact of the matter is that many laws are complicated. It is the very reason we have lawyers — to be experts in areas that we, as laymen, have no way to know what the state of the law is. As such, the lawyers in such cases ought to be held to much stiffer legal consequences if the advice they give is wrong.

    Of course, that should not mean that ill-gotten gains that come about as a result of faulty legal advice deserve to remain in the hands of the ill-gotten gainer. His punishment, at the very least, ought to be that any benefits he received from the wrong legal advice be returned or repaid in full.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    “The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by “claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure,” the court said.

    “Otherwise, a public official could ‘insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks.'”

    Regardless of what the court ruled, it makes more sense, IMO, to just hold an attorney, city employee or private, liable if he gives his client factually wrong legal advice.

    The argument above is that an attorney would be tempted to shape his advice, depending on his employment status. Insofar as that is true, the law ought to give lawyers a very strong incentive to not do that.

    I think it would be outrageous, for example, if a businessman paid his lawyer for advice on the legality of a business practice — say something to do with complicated tax law — the lawyer said explicitly what he was doing was legal, and then the businessman, and not the lawyer, was sent to jail for violating the tax laws.

    The fact of the matter is that many laws are complicated. It is the very reason we have lawyers — to be experts in areas that we, as laymen, have no way to know what the state of the law is. As such, the lawyers in such cases ought to be held to much stiffer legal consequences if the advice they give is wrong.

    Of course, that should not mean that ill-gotten gains that come about as a result of faulty legal advice deserve to remain in the hands of the ill-gotten gainer. His punishment, at the very least, ought to be that any benefits he received from the wrong legal advice be returned or repaid in full.

  9. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    The general principle of the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that advice from an attorney is no insulator, otherwise it would be easy enough to get inscrupulous attorneys to attempt to insulate their client by providing advise on what they could or could not do. That would open things to a gray area.

    And it is simple enough–if you stand to directly benefit from a project, it is probably a conflict of interests for you to deliberate on it just as it would be for a councilmember.

  10. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    The general principle of the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that advice from an attorney is no insulator, otherwise it would be easy enough to get inscrupulous attorneys to attempt to insulate their client by providing advise on what they could or could not do. That would open things to a gray area.

    And it is simple enough–if you stand to directly benefit from a project, it is probably a conflict of interests for you to deliberate on it just as it would be for a councilmember.

  11. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    The general principle of the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that advice from an attorney is no insulator, otherwise it would be easy enough to get inscrupulous attorneys to attempt to insulate their client by providing advise on what they could or could not do. That would open things to a gray area.

    And it is simple enough–if you stand to directly benefit from a project, it is probably a conflict of interests for you to deliberate on it just as it would be for a councilmember.

  12. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    The general principle of the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that advice from an attorney is no insulator, otherwise it would be easy enough to get inscrupulous attorneys to attempt to insulate their client by providing advise on what they could or could not do. That would open things to a gray area.

    And it is simple enough–if you stand to directly benefit from a project, it is probably a conflict of interests for you to deliberate on it just as it would be for a councilmember.

  13. Davisite

    I agree with you Doug… this Supreme Court decision will have an impact. Harriet Steiner will have to alert the councilmembers and others that her legal advice may not protect them from conflict of interest violations. This should make both she and those whom she advises much more cautious about deciding that conflict of interest does not apply.

  14. Davisite

    I agree with you Doug… this Supreme Court decision will have an impact. Harriet Steiner will have to alert the councilmembers and others that her legal advice may not protect them from conflict of interest violations. This should make both she and those whom she advises much more cautious about deciding that conflict of interest does not apply.

  15. Davisite

    I agree with you Doug… this Supreme Court decision will have an impact. Harriet Steiner will have to alert the councilmembers and others that her legal advice may not protect them from conflict of interest violations. This should make both she and those whom she advises much more cautious about deciding that conflict of interest does not apply.

  16. Davisite

    I agree with you Doug… this Supreme Court decision will have an impact. Harriet Steiner will have to alert the councilmembers and others that her legal advice may not protect them from conflict of interest violations. This should make both she and those whom she advises much more cautious about deciding that conflict of interest does not apply.

  17. Anonymous

    All elected official or appointed officials such as government managers and administrators, commission members and steering committee members should be completely open about areas of personal economic conflict of interest and always recuse themselves when there is a potential appearance of having a conflict.

    Regarding the general plan updates both at the city and county level every member of the city of Davis general plan housing element steering committee, the city of Davis planning commission and the Yolo County planning commission should recuse themselves when they have an economic interest specific to an issue or issues before their respective boards.

    For example, county planning commissioner Don Winters who was appointed as Supervisor Helen Thomson’s representative on the commission has a direct conflict of interest in a recommendation from the planning commission that affects his personal property. He lives in a development south of the city of Davis golf course and adjcent to the county commission’s recommended 2,100 unit housing development project. Mr. Winters wrote his neighbors a letter campaigning for this development which he himself voted for on the commission.

    His conduct is a financial conflict of interest. He at the very least should have recused himself from voting, but instead voted on this proposal which he sees as increasing his and his neighbor’s property values. Frankly, he should have recused himself from both the discussion and the vote on this item.

  18. Anonymous

    All elected official or appointed officials such as government managers and administrators, commission members and steering committee members should be completely open about areas of personal economic conflict of interest and always recuse themselves when there is a potential appearance of having a conflict.

    Regarding the general plan updates both at the city and county level every member of the city of Davis general plan housing element steering committee, the city of Davis planning commission and the Yolo County planning commission should recuse themselves when they have an economic interest specific to an issue or issues before their respective boards.

    For example, county planning commissioner Don Winters who was appointed as Supervisor Helen Thomson’s representative on the commission has a direct conflict of interest in a recommendation from the planning commission that affects his personal property. He lives in a development south of the city of Davis golf course and adjcent to the county commission’s recommended 2,100 unit housing development project. Mr. Winters wrote his neighbors a letter campaigning for this development which he himself voted for on the commission.

    His conduct is a financial conflict of interest. He at the very least should have recused himself from voting, but instead voted on this proposal which he sees as increasing his and his neighbor’s property values. Frankly, he should have recused himself from both the discussion and the vote on this item.

  19. Anonymous

    All elected official or appointed officials such as government managers and administrators, commission members and steering committee members should be completely open about areas of personal economic conflict of interest and always recuse themselves when there is a potential appearance of having a conflict.

    Regarding the general plan updates both at the city and county level every member of the city of Davis general plan housing element steering committee, the city of Davis planning commission and the Yolo County planning commission should recuse themselves when they have an economic interest specific to an issue or issues before their respective boards.

    For example, county planning commissioner Don Winters who was appointed as Supervisor Helen Thomson’s representative on the commission has a direct conflict of interest in a recommendation from the planning commission that affects his personal property. He lives in a development south of the city of Davis golf course and adjcent to the county commission’s recommended 2,100 unit housing development project. Mr. Winters wrote his neighbors a letter campaigning for this development which he himself voted for on the commission.

    His conduct is a financial conflict of interest. He at the very least should have recused himself from voting, but instead voted on this proposal which he sees as increasing his and his neighbor’s property values. Frankly, he should have recused himself from both the discussion and the vote on this item.

  20. Anonymous

    All elected official or appointed officials such as government managers and administrators, commission members and steering committee members should be completely open about areas of personal economic conflict of interest and always recuse themselves when there is a potential appearance of having a conflict.

    Regarding the general plan updates both at the city and county level every member of the city of Davis general plan housing element steering committee, the city of Davis planning commission and the Yolo County planning commission should recuse themselves when they have an economic interest specific to an issue or issues before their respective boards.

    For example, county planning commissioner Don Winters who was appointed as Supervisor Helen Thomson’s representative on the commission has a direct conflict of interest in a recommendation from the planning commission that affects his personal property. He lives in a development south of the city of Davis golf course and adjcent to the county commission’s recommended 2,100 unit housing development project. Mr. Winters wrote his neighbors a letter campaigning for this development which he himself voted for on the commission.

    His conduct is a financial conflict of interest. He at the very least should have recused himself from voting, but instead voted on this proposal which he sees as increasing his and his neighbor’s property values. Frankly, he should have recused himself from both the discussion and the vote on this item.

  21. Anonymous

    Bob Wolson said, “Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of fifteen. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote…”

    Just the mere statement that one person cannot sway fifteen sheds light that Mr. Wolson might not be giving the best advice.

    For example, I’m sure there are members of a jury who have been swayed by one juror who saw the testimony and evidence in a different light than his / her colleagues on the jury. That would be one person swaying eleven, so why not one person swaying a slightly larger group.

  22. Anonymous

    Bob Wolson said, “Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of fifteen. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote…”

    Just the mere statement that one person cannot sway fifteen sheds light that Mr. Wolson might not be giving the best advice.

    For example, I’m sure there are members of a jury who have been swayed by one juror who saw the testimony and evidence in a different light than his / her colleagues on the jury. That would be one person swaying eleven, so why not one person swaying a slightly larger group.

  23. Anonymous

    Bob Wolson said, “Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of fifteen. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote…”

    Just the mere statement that one person cannot sway fifteen sheds light that Mr. Wolson might not be giving the best advice.

    For example, I’m sure there are members of a jury who have been swayed by one juror who saw the testimony and evidence in a different light than his / her colleagues on the jury. That would be one person swaying eleven, so why not one person swaying a slightly larger group.

  24. Anonymous

    Bob Wolson said, “Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of fifteen. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote…”

    Just the mere statement that one person cannot sway fifteen sheds light that Mr. Wolson might not be giving the best advice.

    For example, I’m sure there are members of a jury who have been swayed by one juror who saw the testimony and evidence in a different light than his / her colleagues on the jury. That would be one person swaying eleven, so why not one person swaying a slightly larger group.

  25. Claire St. John

    To clear Wolcott’s name a little bit, he also said the steering committee is just an advisory committee, and of course the City Council would make the final decision as to where the city will put housing.

    Also, committee members did fill out disclosure of financial interest statements, and will each have copies of all the others.

    Just to clarify.

  26. Claire St. John

    To clear Wolcott’s name a little bit, he also said the steering committee is just an advisory committee, and of course the City Council would make the final decision as to where the city will put housing.

    Also, committee members did fill out disclosure of financial interest statements, and will each have copies of all the others.

    Just to clarify.

  27. Claire St. John

    To clear Wolcott’s name a little bit, he also said the steering committee is just an advisory committee, and of course the City Council would make the final decision as to where the city will put housing.

    Also, committee members did fill out disclosure of financial interest statements, and will each have copies of all the others.

    Just to clarify.

  28. Claire St. John

    To clear Wolcott’s name a little bit, he also said the steering committee is just an advisory committee, and of course the City Council would make the final decision as to where the city will put housing.

    Also, committee members did fill out disclosure of financial interest statements, and will each have copies of all the others.

    Just to clarify.

  29. Davisite

    Claire.. disappointed.. you know that all the citizen commissions are also advisory.. I also was under the impression that the financial disclosure statements of the Steering Committee were not nearly as exhaustive as those for our citizen commissions.. am I wrong about that?

  30. Davisite

    Claire.. disappointed.. you know that all the citizen commissions are also advisory.. I also was under the impression that the financial disclosure statements of the Steering Committee were not nearly as exhaustive as those for our citizen commissions.. am I wrong about that?

  31. Davisite

    Claire.. disappointed.. you know that all the citizen commissions are also advisory.. I also was under the impression that the financial disclosure statements of the Steering Committee were not nearly as exhaustive as those for our citizen commissions.. am I wrong about that?

  32. Davisite

    Claire.. disappointed.. you know that all the citizen commissions are also advisory.. I also was under the impression that the financial disclosure statements of the Steering Committee were not nearly as exhaustive as those for our citizen commissions.. am I wrong about that?

  33. Doug Paul Davis

    Davisite: You are correct on both accounts.

    Claire: Financial disclosure is not a substitute for recusal when there are direct conflicts of interest.

    Rich Rifkin has previously in other discussions on this made the point that a member of his commission is leaving the commission because of the conflict of interest issue–and as you know, a commission is also just advisory.

    This is a very serious issue especially when recommending development projects and I think the members of the committee would be well-served by getting independent legal advice on the actions that they should take.

  34. Doug Paul Davis

    Davisite: You are correct on both accounts.

    Claire: Financial disclosure is not a substitute for recusal when there are direct conflicts of interest.

    Rich Rifkin has previously in other discussions on this made the point that a member of his commission is leaving the commission because of the conflict of interest issue–and as you know, a commission is also just advisory.

    This is a very serious issue especially when recommending development projects and I think the members of the committee would be well-served by getting independent legal advice on the actions that they should take.

  35. Doug Paul Davis

    Davisite: You are correct on both accounts.

    Claire: Financial disclosure is not a substitute for recusal when there are direct conflicts of interest.

    Rich Rifkin has previously in other discussions on this made the point that a member of his commission is leaving the commission because of the conflict of interest issue–and as you know, a commission is also just advisory.

    This is a very serious issue especially when recommending development projects and I think the members of the committee would be well-served by getting independent legal advice on the actions that they should take.

  36. Doug Paul Davis

    Davisite: You are correct on both accounts.

    Claire: Financial disclosure is not a substitute for recusal when there are direct conflicts of interest.

    Rich Rifkin has previously in other discussions on this made the point that a member of his commission is leaving the commission because of the conflict of interest issue–and as you know, a commission is also just advisory.

    This is a very serious issue especially when recommending development projects and I think the members of the committee would be well-served by getting independent legal advice on the actions that they should take.

  37. Davisite

    The Steering Committee concept itself and the methodology for the selection of its members is fundamentally flawed. Let us not forget that this concept and methodology was promoted by the council majority of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza. The decision concerning depth of financial disclosure , for example, was not Wolcott’s in the final analysis, but the Council Majority’s in its rejection of Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.
    The Steering Committee strategy is a ploy to limit the in-depth analysis and public discussion of the General Plan Update Housing Element in the Council Chambers where Mayor Greenwald has well-established perogatives to influence the agenda for analysis and depth of discussion.

  38. Davisite

    The Steering Committee concept itself and the methodology for the selection of its members is fundamentally flawed. Let us not forget that this concept and methodology was promoted by the council majority of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza. The decision concerning depth of financial disclosure , for example, was not Wolcott’s in the final analysis, but the Council Majority’s in its rejection of Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.
    The Steering Committee strategy is a ploy to limit the in-depth analysis and public discussion of the General Plan Update Housing Element in the Council Chambers where Mayor Greenwald has well-established perogatives to influence the agenda for analysis and depth of discussion.

  39. Davisite

    The Steering Committee concept itself and the methodology for the selection of its members is fundamentally flawed. Let us not forget that this concept and methodology was promoted by the council majority of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza. The decision concerning depth of financial disclosure , for example, was not Wolcott’s in the final analysis, but the Council Majority’s in its rejection of Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.
    The Steering Committee strategy is a ploy to limit the in-depth analysis and public discussion of the General Plan Update Housing Element in the Council Chambers where Mayor Greenwald has well-established perogatives to influence the agenda for analysis and depth of discussion.

  40. Davisite

    The Steering Committee concept itself and the methodology for the selection of its members is fundamentally flawed. Let us not forget that this concept and methodology was promoted by the council majority of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza. The decision concerning depth of financial disclosure , for example, was not Wolcott’s in the final analysis, but the Council Majority’s in its rejection of Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.
    The Steering Committee strategy is a ploy to limit the in-depth analysis and public discussion of the General Plan Update Housing Element in the Council Chambers where Mayor Greenwald has well-established perogatives to influence the agenda for analysis and depth of discussion.

  41. Anonymous

    Well stated Davisite. The Council Majority did reject Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.

    This is yet ANOTHER example of how the council majority wants to limit the knowledge, input, and questions that the public may have for them on the decision they may that impact us as home owners, renters, taxpaying, voters of Davis.

    Selective process will be the legacy left by the Asmundson, Saylor, Souza trio.

  42. Anonymous

    Well stated Davisite. The Council Majority did reject Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.

    This is yet ANOTHER example of how the council majority wants to limit the knowledge, input, and questions that the public may have for them on the decision they may that impact us as home owners, renters, taxpaying, voters of Davis.

    Selective process will be the legacy left by the Asmundson, Saylor, Souza trio.

  43. Anonymous

    Well stated Davisite. The Council Majority did reject Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.

    This is yet ANOTHER example of how the council majority wants to limit the knowledge, input, and questions that the public may have for them on the decision they may that impact us as home owners, renters, taxpaying, voters of Davis.

    Selective process will be the legacy left by the Asmundson, Saylor, Souza trio.

  44. Anonymous

    Well stated Davisite. The Council Majority did reject Heystek’s motion concerning financial disclosure.

    This is yet ANOTHER example of how the council majority wants to limit the knowledge, input, and questions that the public may have for them on the decision they may that impact us as home owners, renters, taxpaying, voters of Davis.

    Selective process will be the legacy left by the Asmundson, Saylor, Souza trio.

  45. Anonymous

    Correction: I meant to say, “…on the decisions they (council majority) make that may have an impact on us as homeowners, renters, taxpayers, and voters of Davis.

  46. Anonymous

    Correction: I meant to say, “…on the decisions they (council majority) make that may have an impact on us as homeowners, renters, taxpayers, and voters of Davis.

  47. Anonymous

    Correction: I meant to say, “…on the decisions they (council majority) make that may have an impact on us as homeowners, renters, taxpayers, and voters of Davis.

  48. Anonymous

    Correction: I meant to say, “…on the decisions they (council majority) make that may have an impact on us as homeowners, renters, taxpayers, and voters of Davis.

  49. Davisite

    When you go back and look at Wolcott’s rsponses to council questioning, he states that from the staff perspective, it would actually be more efficient(less duplication of effort in bringing information to the Steering Committee and then repeating it to the councilmembers) to deal solely with the council. It was again Saylor,Asmundson and Souza who pushed for the creation of the Steering Committee.

  50. Davisite

    When you go back and look at Wolcott’s rsponses to council questioning, he states that from the staff perspective, it would actually be more efficient(less duplication of effort in bringing information to the Steering Committee and then repeating it to the councilmembers) to deal solely with the council. It was again Saylor,Asmundson and Souza who pushed for the creation of the Steering Committee.

  51. Davisite

    When you go back and look at Wolcott’s rsponses to council questioning, he states that from the staff perspective, it would actually be more efficient(less duplication of effort in bringing information to the Steering Committee and then repeating it to the councilmembers) to deal solely with the council. It was again Saylor,Asmundson and Souza who pushed for the creation of the Steering Committee.

  52. Davisite

    When you go back and look at Wolcott’s rsponses to council questioning, he states that from the staff perspective, it would actually be more efficient(less duplication of effort in bringing information to the Steering Committee and then repeating it to the councilmembers) to deal solely with the council. It was again Saylor,Asmundson and Souza who pushed for the creation of the Steering Committee.

  53. Doug Paul Davis

    I have to take some responsibility here, it was not my intention to turn Wolcott into the bad guy here. He was the messenger rather than the iniator of this policy handed down from staff and passed by council both in terms of the structure of the committee and also in terms of the mechanism for disclosure. And by the way, and I have emphasize this point because it seems Claire misunderstood my point, disclosure is not the issue here, rather it is liability for engaging in a conflict of interest. Disclosure does not waive or preclude one from the responsiblity from recusal.

  54. Doug Paul Davis

    I have to take some responsibility here, it was not my intention to turn Wolcott into the bad guy here. He was the messenger rather than the iniator of this policy handed down from staff and passed by council both in terms of the structure of the committee and also in terms of the mechanism for disclosure. And by the way, and I have emphasize this point because it seems Claire misunderstood my point, disclosure is not the issue here, rather it is liability for engaging in a conflict of interest. Disclosure does not waive or preclude one from the responsiblity from recusal.

  55. Doug Paul Davis

    I have to take some responsibility here, it was not my intention to turn Wolcott into the bad guy here. He was the messenger rather than the iniator of this policy handed down from staff and passed by council both in terms of the structure of the committee and also in terms of the mechanism for disclosure. And by the way, and I have emphasize this point because it seems Claire misunderstood my point, disclosure is not the issue here, rather it is liability for engaging in a conflict of interest. Disclosure does not waive or preclude one from the responsiblity from recusal.

  56. Doug Paul Davis

    I have to take some responsibility here, it was not my intention to turn Wolcott into the bad guy here. He was the messenger rather than the iniator of this policy handed down from staff and passed by council both in terms of the structure of the committee and also in terms of the mechanism for disclosure. And by the way, and I have emphasize this point because it seems Claire misunderstood my point, disclosure is not the issue here, rather it is liability for engaging in a conflict of interest. Disclosure does not waive or preclude one from the responsiblity from recusal.

  57. Davisite

    Anonymous… let’s hope that the “selective process” legacy of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza meets the same electoral fate in 2008 as Bush’s selective process(which got us into Iraq)met in 2006.

  58. Davisite

    Anonymous… let’s hope that the “selective process” legacy of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza meets the same electoral fate in 2008 as Bush’s selective process(which got us into Iraq)met in 2006.

  59. Davisite

    Anonymous… let’s hope that the “selective process” legacy of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza meets the same electoral fate in 2008 as Bush’s selective process(which got us into Iraq)met in 2006.

  60. Davisite

    Anonymous… let’s hope that the “selective process” legacy of Saylor, Asmundson and Souza meets the same electoral fate in 2008 as Bush’s selective process(which got us into Iraq)met in 2006.

  61. Anonymous

    Here is the list of members (I’m missing a couple of ’em).
    Which of these people does NOT have some kind of conflict of interest regarding development and housing issues in Davis?

    Jay Gerber
    Pam Gunnell
    Mike Harrington
    Brenda Little
    Donna Lott
    Pam Nieberg
    Eileen Samitz
    Ellen Shields
    Mark Siegler
    Maynard Skinner
    Norma Turner
    Bob Traverso
    Luke Watkins

  62. Anonymous

    Here is the list of members (I’m missing a couple of ’em).
    Which of these people does NOT have some kind of conflict of interest regarding development and housing issues in Davis?

    Jay Gerber
    Pam Gunnell
    Mike Harrington
    Brenda Little
    Donna Lott
    Pam Nieberg
    Eileen Samitz
    Ellen Shields
    Mark Siegler
    Maynard Skinner
    Norma Turner
    Bob Traverso
    Luke Watkins

  63. Anonymous

    Here is the list of members (I’m missing a couple of ’em).
    Which of these people does NOT have some kind of conflict of interest regarding development and housing issues in Davis?

    Jay Gerber
    Pam Gunnell
    Mike Harrington
    Brenda Little
    Donna Lott
    Pam Nieberg
    Eileen Samitz
    Ellen Shields
    Mark Siegler
    Maynard Skinner
    Norma Turner
    Bob Traverso
    Luke Watkins

  64. Anonymous

    Here is the list of members (I’m missing a couple of ’em).
    Which of these people does NOT have some kind of conflict of interest regarding development and housing issues in Davis?

    Jay Gerber
    Pam Gunnell
    Mike Harrington
    Brenda Little
    Donna Lott
    Pam Nieberg
    Eileen Samitz
    Ellen Shields
    Mark Siegler
    Maynard Skinner
    Norma Turner
    Bob Traverso
    Luke Watkins

  65. Doug Paul Davis

    Don:

    You ask a good question and it is a tough one to answer.

    Any one of them who owns property in town is potentially in conflict at one point or another depending on where proposals are arising.

    Now the City Council handles this by excluding members from discussions whenever the location in question is within 500 feet of their property. So Stephen Souza removes himself physically from the room whenever the Wildhorse Golf Clubhouse issue arises. He does that that so that not only does he not vote but he does not influence the discussion.

    Some members have more extensive interests than just that. I am glad Brenda Little is no longer on the committee because she had extensive interests in the company that she worked for in terms of the issue of development in Davis and there would have been numerous conflicts.

    There are others with more limited development interests that may have to recuse themselves from some discussion. Maynard Skinner and Luke Watkins come to mind from the top of my head.

  66. Doug Paul Davis

    Don:

    You ask a good question and it is a tough one to answer.

    Any one of them who owns property in town is potentially in conflict at one point or another depending on where proposals are arising.

    Now the City Council handles this by excluding members from discussions whenever the location in question is within 500 feet of their property. So Stephen Souza removes himself physically from the room whenever the Wildhorse Golf Clubhouse issue arises. He does that that so that not only does he not vote but he does not influence the discussion.

    Some members have more extensive interests than just that. I am glad Brenda Little is no longer on the committee because she had extensive interests in the company that she worked for in terms of the issue of development in Davis and there would have been numerous conflicts.

    There are others with more limited development interests that may have to recuse themselves from some discussion. Maynard Skinner and Luke Watkins come to mind from the top of my head.

  67. Doug Paul Davis

    Don:

    You ask a good question and it is a tough one to answer.

    Any one of them who owns property in town is potentially in conflict at one point or another depending on where proposals are arising.

    Now the City Council handles this by excluding members from discussions whenever the location in question is within 500 feet of their property. So Stephen Souza removes himself physically from the room whenever the Wildhorse Golf Clubhouse issue arises. He does that that so that not only does he not vote but he does not influence the discussion.

    Some members have more extensive interests than just that. I am glad Brenda Little is no longer on the committee because she had extensive interests in the company that she worked for in terms of the issue of development in Davis and there would have been numerous conflicts.

    There are others with more limited development interests that may have to recuse themselves from some discussion. Maynard Skinner and Luke Watkins come to mind from the top of my head.

  68. Doug Paul Davis

    Don:

    You ask a good question and it is a tough one to answer.

    Any one of them who owns property in town is potentially in conflict at one point or another depending on where proposals are arising.

    Now the City Council handles this by excluding members from discussions whenever the location in question is within 500 feet of their property. So Stephen Souza removes himself physically from the room whenever the Wildhorse Golf Clubhouse issue arises. He does that that so that not only does he not vote but he does not influence the discussion.

    Some members have more extensive interests than just that. I am glad Brenda Little is no longer on the committee because she had extensive interests in the company that she worked for in terms of the issue of development in Davis and there would have been numerous conflicts.

    There are others with more limited development interests that may have to recuse themselves from some discussion. Maynard Skinner and Luke Watkins come to mind from the top of my head.

  69. Davisite

    Don.. I think that your question, NOT, suggests that this is a rhetorical question and you believe that all have a conflict of interest. By this, I assume that you are thinking of a conflict of interest as having demonstrated a particular political perspective on these issues. I agree, noone comes with a “clean slate” to this committee although I don’t think that this is the concept of conflict of interest that is being dealt with here.

  70. Davisite

    Don.. I think that your question, NOT, suggests that this is a rhetorical question and you believe that all have a conflict of interest. By this, I assume that you are thinking of a conflict of interest as having demonstrated a particular political perspective on these issues. I agree, noone comes with a “clean slate” to this committee although I don’t think that this is the concept of conflict of interest that is being dealt with here.

  71. Davisite

    Don.. I think that your question, NOT, suggests that this is a rhetorical question and you believe that all have a conflict of interest. By this, I assume that you are thinking of a conflict of interest as having demonstrated a particular political perspective on these issues. I agree, noone comes with a “clean slate” to this committee although I don’t think that this is the concept of conflict of interest that is being dealt with here.

  72. Davisite

    Don.. I think that your question, NOT, suggests that this is a rhetorical question and you believe that all have a conflict of interest. By this, I assume that you are thinking of a conflict of interest as having demonstrated a particular political perspective on these issues. I agree, noone comes with a “clean slate” to this committee although I don’t think that this is the concept of conflict of interest that is being dealt with here.

  73. Don Shor

    My point was more in line with Doug’s response. I know several of these folks. One of them lives across from the Covell Village site. Another has family members in the real estate business. Mike Harrington is a downtown property owner. You’ve mentioned Maynard and Luke.

    I actually think this committee is going to have problems functioning that go beyond the potential material conflicts of interest. But it doesn’t particularly bother me to have development interests represented here (so long as there is full disclosure), since there seems to be a reasonable balance of viewpoints present. Ultimately what matters more is the makeup of the city council.

  74. Don Shor

    My point was more in line with Doug’s response. I know several of these folks. One of them lives across from the Covell Village site. Another has family members in the real estate business. Mike Harrington is a downtown property owner. You’ve mentioned Maynard and Luke.

    I actually think this committee is going to have problems functioning that go beyond the potential material conflicts of interest. But it doesn’t particularly bother me to have development interests represented here (so long as there is full disclosure), since there seems to be a reasonable balance of viewpoints present. Ultimately what matters more is the makeup of the city council.

  75. Don Shor

    My point was more in line with Doug’s response. I know several of these folks. One of them lives across from the Covell Village site. Another has family members in the real estate business. Mike Harrington is a downtown property owner. You’ve mentioned Maynard and Luke.

    I actually think this committee is going to have problems functioning that go beyond the potential material conflicts of interest. But it doesn’t particularly bother me to have development interests represented here (so long as there is full disclosure), since there seems to be a reasonable balance of viewpoints present. Ultimately what matters more is the makeup of the city council.

  76. Don Shor

    My point was more in line with Doug’s response. I know several of these folks. One of them lives across from the Covell Village site. Another has family members in the real estate business. Mike Harrington is a downtown property owner. You’ve mentioned Maynard and Luke.

    I actually think this committee is going to have problems functioning that go beyond the potential material conflicts of interest. But it doesn’t particularly bother me to have development interests represented here (so long as there is full disclosure), since there seems to be a reasonable balance of viewpoints present. Ultimately what matters more is the makeup of the city council.

  77. Davisite

    Sorry Don.. too presumptuous of me, I missed your point.
    For myself, The very legitimacy of the Steering Committee recommendations is undermined. If, as is probably the case, this is all political theater, then it has no real import and after all the time and staff energy wasted, the council will still be starting at square one. The only real result(and goal, I suspect) will be that the time allocated for this process with its reported time-sensitive deadline will be consumed so that little of no time will be left for the issue to be fully addressed by the council in full view or the public.

  78. Davisite

    Sorry Don.. too presumptuous of me, I missed your point.
    For myself, The very legitimacy of the Steering Committee recommendations is undermined. If, as is probably the case, this is all political theater, then it has no real import and after all the time and staff energy wasted, the council will still be starting at square one. The only real result(and goal, I suspect) will be that the time allocated for this process with its reported time-sensitive deadline will be consumed so that little of no time will be left for the issue to be fully addressed by the council in full view or the public.

  79. Davisite

    Sorry Don.. too presumptuous of me, I missed your point.
    For myself, The very legitimacy of the Steering Committee recommendations is undermined. If, as is probably the case, this is all political theater, then it has no real import and after all the time and staff energy wasted, the council will still be starting at square one. The only real result(and goal, I suspect) will be that the time allocated for this process with its reported time-sensitive deadline will be consumed so that little of no time will be left for the issue to be fully addressed by the council in full view or the public.

  80. Davisite

    Sorry Don.. too presumptuous of me, I missed your point.
    For myself, The very legitimacy of the Steering Committee recommendations is undermined. If, as is probably the case, this is all political theater, then it has no real import and after all the time and staff energy wasted, the council will still be starting at square one. The only real result(and goal, I suspect) will be that the time allocated for this process with its reported time-sensitive deadline will be consumed so that little of no time will be left for the issue to be fully addressed by the council in full view or the public.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for