Posts tagged: Conflict of interest
On 21 occasions, Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, voted on oil and gas legislation. On Wednesday, before the 22nd vote, Pearce disclosed that an oil company has leased drilling rights on his property. Democrats have requested an ethics committee review, and say Pearce should be removed as chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee. Pearce tells the Associated Press that he has followed the spirit and the letter of ethics rules, and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt. Either way, this fiasco reveals yet another hole in the Legislature’s lax ethics guidelines. First off, I’m not buying Pearce’s claim that he met the spirit of ethics rules/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Now don't you wish the Legislature had followed through on its promise to fix the ethics law?
On June 17, 2000, then SR CdA bureau reporter Winston Ross (pictured) wrote a story about the impact of a conflict-of-interest law re: Idaho cities hiring relatives of mayors of city council members. Here's part of that report: “In Coeur d'Alene, Councilman Ron Edinger's daughter works for the city Parks Department. Paula Austin was hired 10 years ago, long after her father began a 30-year stint as a councilman and mayor. When asked about the conflict, Austin put a reporter on hold, never returned to the telephone, and then didn't answer subsequent calls. Edinger could be off the hook in this case, however. It's unclear what the nepotism laws were before 1990, when the current statute was enacted. `'When (Austin) was hired, I had nothing to do with that,' Edinger said. 'I didn't even know she applied. The fellow in charge of parks and rec at the time didn't know she was my daughter.' City Attorney Jeff Jones wouldn't comment on Edinger's situation, claiming it would violate attorney-client privilege.” More here.
Question: What did they know, and when did they know it?
Huckleberries has acquired a copy of a response sent by City Attorney Mike Gridley to Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane re: state Rep. Kathy Sims' claims (which Gridley called “scurrilous”) of widespread conflicts of interest among elected officials who OK'd McEuen Field changes. Quoth Gridley: “It appears that Rep. Sims has opened a new front in her on-going battle against urban renewal and Coeur d'Alene city government.” Gridley then goes on to break down the allegations raised by Sims. You can read what he says about Mayor Sandi Bloem's ownership of one-third of a building a block from McEuen Field and other so-called conflicts that Sims' claims here.
On a May 20 thread about possible conflicts of interests involving Mayor Sandi Bloem and the City Council voting on McEuen Field upgrade plans tomorrow, Dan Gookin writes: “The connection between Kennedy and Meyer is weak, Mary. Mike will not personally benefit from his decision and unless you can connect a “bonus check” to his vote, there’s no case there. What’s more of an issue for Kennedy is his adamant promise to the ball players that he would “fight” to keep the ball fields at McEuen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays true to his word and votes NO on the project because of the ball fields.” You can read more of his comment here (No. 21). (Special to Huckleberries: Stickman's photo of Tubbs Hill flowers)
BTW: If you read the following comment, you'll see that Mary Souza totally disagrees w/DanG on this issue. Also some entertaining back-and-forth between Eric & Happy Trails (who identifies himself as Starr Kelso).
Question: Do any of the Coeur d'Alene City Council members — or Mayor Sandi Bloem — have a conflict of interest in voting on propose McEuen Field upgrades?
Item: Consensus: No conflict on park project: Officials: Owning private property in vicinity is not a problem/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Owning adjacent property doesn't constitute a conflict of interest on the McEuen Field redevelopment project, officials said this week. Several people helping craft the conceptual plan aimed at overhauling the downtown 15-acre park have or had ties to property or businesses near McEuen Field. But private property close to the park doesn't constitute a violation of Idaho conflict codes, legal advisers said, so recusing themselves from their official capacities as the plan moves forward isn't necessary.
Question: Should people who own property near McEuen Field who might profit by proposed upgrades to the greenbelt be involved in planning for the renovation?
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, is being investigated by a group of his peers
on a House Ethics Committee regarding his actions in using his status as
a state lawmaker to avoid legal proceedings associated with recent tax
woes. That panel, called for by House Minority Leader Rep. John Rusche,
D-Lewiston, is being aided in the process by Brian Kane, a deputy
assistant in the attorney general’s office. Hart told IdahoReporter.com
recently that Kane’s presence advising the panel is a conflict of
interest and a breach of constitutional protocol because one of the
agencies in litigation with Hart also uses legal counsel from the
attorney general’s office/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here. (Idaho Reporter photo of Phil Hart)
Question: Hmm. Hart may have a point here. What do you think?
Item: AG clears Nipp of criminal conflict claims/Huckleberries Online
Wheels: At any given moment Charlie Nipp is doing more good for this community than any of you bashers will do in a lifetime.
JBelle: Aw, c’mon wheels. I don’t care if Charlie Nipp teaches Sunday School at every church in town. When he had his Mountain West hat on, he should have disclaimed on the LCDC work on the table. Conflicts of interest is meat of what the ethics crisis in American politics is these days. Well, that and paying taxes on household employees, I guess.
Question: Any further thoughts about the decision by the Idaho AG’s office not to file criminal charges re: conflict of interest claims against former LCDC chairman Charlie Nipp?