Conflict of Interest Disclosure Request Drew Ire of Best Uses of Schools Task Force Member

Story Highlights

Share:
Following the closing of the Valley Oak Elementary School, the People’s Vanguard of Davis made a formal request to the Davis Joint Unified School Board to obtain public records in the form of communications between Best Uses of School Task Force (BUSTF) members and the school board and school district. The public documents we received were very revealing in many ways. This article is the first of several that will appear in these spaces that will reveal some of the thinking behind those who served on the BUSTF.

On January 5, 2007 Davis OPEN member Baki Tezcan presented concern about a development project in the Valley Oak area and wanted to ascertain that none of the members of the had a financial stake in this development project.

He wrote:

“Now if you add on top of the available space the acreage that would become vacant once Valley Oak is closed, you get a much larger area to develop/infill, a very attractive investment opportunity. Hence my request for public conflict of interest disclosures. Both the Board and the Task Force include members who work with developers, so my neighbors in the Valley Oak area would sleep better if they knew no other interests got in to the choice of our school for closure than those of our kids.”

Task force Vice Chair Jan Bridge, herself a former school board member and longtime community resident who should have been well-versed in conflict of interest disclosure requirements complained vehemently about such a requirement. She fired off an angry email to school board members, administrator Penny Pyle, and Baki Tezcan himself.

“I can only begin to tell you how completely and totally offended and insulted I am by the DEMAND that the members of the BUSTF be required to file conflict of interest disclosures.

As a 26 year resident of Davis, a school volunteer since 1983, and a retired Trustee, I find the implications of this letter to be completely with out merit. YOU can easily imagine where the adoption of such a requirement could lead in a District that has long depended on the goodwill and generous donation of time and talents of the many citizens of Davis.

Should the trustees adopt such a requirement, I will resign the task force in protest.”

My reaction to reading this is the lady doth protest too much.

First, really some background. As many are aware, the city of Davis requires all commissioners to fill out and sign standard conflict of interest forms. In fact, right now they are approving updates to their conflict of interest rules. So rather being some type of extraordinary requirement, this is actually a standard disclosure. In fact, it is shocking that the district at this time did not require such disclosures on their own. There was a long debate on the city general plan housing element steering committee about the level of conflict of interest papers that should be required.

The City’s ordinance reads:

“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.”

Should not the school board whose members sit on a task force that might have just as much stake financially in their decisions be required to do no less? If indeed there are development projects impacted by the decision to close a school it seems to me perfectly legitimate that task force members who were highly influential in the decision to ultimately close the school fill out forms disclosing whether this was the case. For most of them, the answer would undoubtedly be, “no.”

Second, the district has since passed new rules pertaining to conflicts of interest. And now they would require all members of any newly appointed task force to sign them.

So Bridge’s comments seem totally out of line. First, the requirement should not have been taken as any sort of insult. It was not personally directed at her (or it should not have been). Second, if the task force was formed now, guess what, she and the other task force members would be forced to fill out conflict of interest forms.

So it appears from the stand point of policy that her complaint made very little sense. It certainly made little sense for her to take it as a personal slight.

But I think the most stunning thing was the level of her outrage for what appears to be such a minor issue.

She is “completely and totally offended and insulted” to the point where she would “resign the task force in protest.” That response seems totally and completely out of line. The request itself was not only reasonable it should have been standard. Had I read this response by Ms. Bridge, my response would have been, what do you have to hide?

That might not have been fair, and perhaps this was just a principled objection, but to me it raises some red flags. Why don’t you want to have to fill out a conflict of interest form? Do you have vast financial stakes in this property? We know that Ms. Bridge was one of the leaders in the Covell Village campaign. Her picture and quotes appear in numerous fliers and quotes supporting the project. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but does that mean she has development interests in the area that may be impacted by a school closing?

Sadly we will not know the answer to those questions. However, this public record seems rather revealing about the mindset of some of the commissioners, that she would be personally offended by the requested signing of a standard form is rather appalling.

—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

40 thoughts on “Conflict of Interest Disclosure Request Drew Ire of Best Uses of Schools Task Force Member”

  1. davisite

    As I’ve noted before, full-blown righteous indignation is the SECOND-BEST “rush”. Jan’s hissy-fit should not distract us from the irrefutable fact that developers exert their considerable influence in all aspects of Davis politics where their financial interests are at stake.

  2. davisite

    As I’ve noted before, full-blown righteous indignation is the SECOND-BEST “rush”. Jan’s hissy-fit should not distract us from the irrefutable fact that developers exert their considerable influence in all aspects of Davis politics where their financial interests are at stake.

  3. davisite

    As I’ve noted before, full-blown righteous indignation is the SECOND-BEST “rush”. Jan’s hissy-fit should not distract us from the irrefutable fact that developers exert their considerable influence in all aspects of Davis politics where their financial interests are at stake.

  4. davisite

    As I’ve noted before, full-blown righteous indignation is the SECOND-BEST “rush”. Jan’s hissy-fit should not distract us from the irrefutable fact that developers exert their considerable influence in all aspects of Davis politics where their financial interests are at stake.

  5. Anonymous

    Yes Doug, “the lady doth protest too much.”

    My response to Jan Bridge, if I were a member of the school when she issued the threat of resigning, would have been, “please do.”

  6. Anonymous

    Yes Doug, “the lady doth protest too much.”

    My response to Jan Bridge, if I were a member of the school when she issued the threat of resigning, would have been, “please do.”

  7. Anonymous

    Yes Doug, “the lady doth protest too much.”

    My response to Jan Bridge, if I were a member of the school when she issued the threat of resigning, would have been, “please do.”

  8. Anonymous

    Yes Doug, “the lady doth protest too much.”

    My response to Jan Bridge, if I were a member of the school when she issued the threat of resigning, would have been, “please do.”

  9. Anonymous

    Jan was also the author of the letter to the editor urging residents to boycott Davis businesses that had ‘No on K’ signs. A big proponent of Covell Village and of Target.

  10. Anonymous

    Jan was also the author of the letter to the editor urging residents to boycott Davis businesses that had ‘No on K’ signs. A big proponent of Covell Village and of Target.

  11. Anonymous

    Jan was also the author of the letter to the editor urging residents to boycott Davis businesses that had ‘No on K’ signs. A big proponent of Covell Village and of Target.

  12. Anonymous

    Jan was also the author of the letter to the editor urging residents to boycott Davis businesses that had ‘No on K’ signs. A big proponent of Covell Village and of Target.

  13. Anonymous

    Given that the Best Uses of Schools Task force did not disclose possible conflicts (non-monetary and monetary) of interests it calls to question their report.

    Quite frankly, it does not reflect well on the task force or the school board that should have enforced the disclosure of any conflicts of interest.

    They should be forced to reconsider Valley Oak given this information that teachers, parents, and school board members should have known beforehand through disclosure. It’s the honest and right thing to do.

    Who on the school board would be brave enough to bring up the reconsideration given the new information?

  14. Anonymous

    Given that the Best Uses of Schools Task force did not disclose possible conflicts (non-monetary and monetary) of interests it calls to question their report.

    Quite frankly, it does not reflect well on the task force or the school board that should have enforced the disclosure of any conflicts of interest.

    They should be forced to reconsider Valley Oak given this information that teachers, parents, and school board members should have known beforehand through disclosure. It’s the honest and right thing to do.

    Who on the school board would be brave enough to bring up the reconsideration given the new information?

  15. Anonymous

    Given that the Best Uses of Schools Task force did not disclose possible conflicts (non-monetary and monetary) of interests it calls to question their report.

    Quite frankly, it does not reflect well on the task force or the school board that should have enforced the disclosure of any conflicts of interest.

    They should be forced to reconsider Valley Oak given this information that teachers, parents, and school board members should have known beforehand through disclosure. It’s the honest and right thing to do.

    Who on the school board would be brave enough to bring up the reconsideration given the new information?

  16. Anonymous

    Given that the Best Uses of Schools Task force did not disclose possible conflicts (non-monetary and monetary) of interests it calls to question their report.

    Quite frankly, it does not reflect well on the task force or the school board that should have enforced the disclosure of any conflicts of interest.

    They should be forced to reconsider Valley Oak given this information that teachers, parents, and school board members should have known beforehand through disclosure. It’s the honest and right thing to do.

    Who on the school board would be brave enough to bring up the reconsideration given the new information?

  17. Anonymous

    As someone who attended many of the meetings, I feel it is only fair to state that Jan Bridge seemed to be the least likely besides Val Dolcini to accept the recommendations to close the school. Those who sat in those rooms and heard her comments know this. On many occasions in those meetings when other task force members had already gotten on board with the closure recommendation, she stated that she was not comfortable closing a school, that there must be a way to have a 9 school option (or 8.5 school option which would keep VO open K-3), etc.

    I agree that conflict of interest disclosures are a good idea, but anyone who is trying to blame Jan Bridge’s frustrations on a secret desire to make a lot of cash on the school site is, I believe, headed down the wrong path.

    -Katherine

  18. Anonymous

    As someone who attended many of the meetings, I feel it is only fair to state that Jan Bridge seemed to be the least likely besides Val Dolcini to accept the recommendations to close the school. Those who sat in those rooms and heard her comments know this. On many occasions in those meetings when other task force members had already gotten on board with the closure recommendation, she stated that she was not comfortable closing a school, that there must be a way to have a 9 school option (or 8.5 school option which would keep VO open K-3), etc.

    I agree that conflict of interest disclosures are a good idea, but anyone who is trying to blame Jan Bridge’s frustrations on a secret desire to make a lot of cash on the school site is, I believe, headed down the wrong path.

    -Katherine

  19. Anonymous

    As someone who attended many of the meetings, I feel it is only fair to state that Jan Bridge seemed to be the least likely besides Val Dolcini to accept the recommendations to close the school. Those who sat in those rooms and heard her comments know this. On many occasions in those meetings when other task force members had already gotten on board with the closure recommendation, she stated that she was not comfortable closing a school, that there must be a way to have a 9 school option (or 8.5 school option which would keep VO open K-3), etc.

    I agree that conflict of interest disclosures are a good idea, but anyone who is trying to blame Jan Bridge’s frustrations on a secret desire to make a lot of cash on the school site is, I believe, headed down the wrong path.

    -Katherine

  20. Anonymous

    As someone who attended many of the meetings, I feel it is only fair to state that Jan Bridge seemed to be the least likely besides Val Dolcini to accept the recommendations to close the school. Those who sat in those rooms and heard her comments know this. On many occasions in those meetings when other task force members had already gotten on board with the closure recommendation, she stated that she was not comfortable closing a school, that there must be a way to have a 9 school option (or 8.5 school option which would keep VO open K-3), etc.

    I agree that conflict of interest disclosures are a good idea, but anyone who is trying to blame Jan Bridge’s frustrations on a secret desire to make a lot of cash on the school site is, I believe, headed down the wrong path.

    -Katherine

  21. Anonymous

    It is not the suspicion that Ms. Bridge was involved in a secret scheme to profit from the closing of Valley Oak. It is the huffing and puffing arrogance of the BUSTF that her reaction so clearly represented. That because they were “volunteers’ and had “worked so hard and so long” that their actions shouldn’t be questioned. Even to be asked to file a routined procedural affadavits of possible conflicts-of-interest. There were many of us at many of those meetings.

  22. Anonymous

    It is not the suspicion that Ms. Bridge was involved in a secret scheme to profit from the closing of Valley Oak. It is the huffing and puffing arrogance of the BUSTF that her reaction so clearly represented. That because they were “volunteers’ and had “worked so hard and so long” that their actions shouldn’t be questioned. Even to be asked to file a routined procedural affadavits of possible conflicts-of-interest. There were many of us at many of those meetings.

  23. Anonymous

    It is not the suspicion that Ms. Bridge was involved in a secret scheme to profit from the closing of Valley Oak. It is the huffing and puffing arrogance of the BUSTF that her reaction so clearly represented. That because they were “volunteers’ and had “worked so hard and so long” that their actions shouldn’t be questioned. Even to be asked to file a routined procedural affadavits of possible conflicts-of-interest. There were many of us at many of those meetings.

  24. Anonymous

    It is not the suspicion that Ms. Bridge was involved in a secret scheme to profit from the closing of Valley Oak. It is the huffing and puffing arrogance of the BUSTF that her reaction so clearly represented. That because they were “volunteers’ and had “worked so hard and so long” that their actions shouldn’t be questioned. Even to be asked to file a routined procedural affadavits of possible conflicts-of-interest. There were many of us at many of those meetings.

  25. Anonymous

    My response was based on remarks in the initial post such as

    Had I read this response by Ms. Bridge, my response would have been, what do you have to hide?

    as well as posts here such as

    “the lady doth protest too much.”

    There is definitely an implication in these remarks that there was an underlying, secret financial reason why she had that reaction. I don’t believe this is accurate. That’s why I posted what I did.

    -Katherine

  26. Anonymous

    My response was based on remarks in the initial post such as

    Had I read this response by Ms. Bridge, my response would have been, what do you have to hide?

    as well as posts here such as

    “the lady doth protest too much.”

    There is definitely an implication in these remarks that there was an underlying, secret financial reason why she had that reaction. I don’t believe this is accurate. That’s why I posted what I did.

    -Katherine

  27. Anonymous

    My response was based on remarks in the initial post such as

    Had I read this response by Ms. Bridge, my response would have been, what do you have to hide?

    as well as posts here such as

    “the lady doth protest too much.”

    There is definitely an implication in these remarks that there was an underlying, secret financial reason why she had that reaction. I don’t believe this is accurate. That’s why I posted what I did.

    -Katherine

  28. Anonymous

    My response was based on remarks in the initial post such as

    Had I read this response by Ms. Bridge, my response would have been, what do you have to hide?

    as well as posts here such as

    “the lady doth protest too much.”

    There is definitely an implication in these remarks that there was an underlying, secret financial reason why she had that reaction. I don’t believe this is accurate. That’s why I posted what I did.

    -Katherine

  29. Anonymous

    The School Board members are already aware of the conflicts of interest on the BUSTF. The Chairman is a lawyer for development interests (Kirk Trost) and Chuck Foster is a lobbyist for school builders…
    When I questioned Chuck about his conflict of interest he also became overly defensive and started defending his intergrity…these are heavy hitters and, yes, it is ALL about development.
    But maybe this school charter idea is the perfect solution to beat them at their own game.

  30. Anonymous

    The School Board members are already aware of the conflicts of interest on the BUSTF. The Chairman is a lawyer for development interests (Kirk Trost) and Chuck Foster is a lobbyist for school builders…
    When I questioned Chuck about his conflict of interest he also became overly defensive and started defending his intergrity…these are heavy hitters and, yes, it is ALL about development.
    But maybe this school charter idea is the perfect solution to beat them at their own game.

  31. Anonymous

    The School Board members are already aware of the conflicts of interest on the BUSTF. The Chairman is a lawyer for development interests (Kirk Trost) and Chuck Foster is a lobbyist for school builders…
    When I questioned Chuck about his conflict of interest he also became overly defensive and started defending his intergrity…these are heavy hitters and, yes, it is ALL about development.
    But maybe this school charter idea is the perfect solution to beat them at their own game.

  32. Anonymous

    The School Board members are already aware of the conflicts of interest on the BUSTF. The Chairman is a lawyer for development interests (Kirk Trost) and Chuck Foster is a lobbyist for school builders…
    When I questioned Chuck about his conflict of interest he also became overly defensive and started defending his intergrity…these are heavy hitters and, yes, it is ALL about development.
    But maybe this school charter idea is the perfect solution to beat them at their own game.

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