Monday, 23 July 2007 02:09

Legal Opinion States No Conflict in Case of Jackson Planning Commissioner

slide27Whether or not the recently reappointed Jackson Planning Commissioner Wayne Garibaldi has a conflict of interest regarding any decisions made by the planning commission over the Jackson Hills Golf Community Project has been a source of conflict in the community. At recent City Planning Commission and City Council meetings, community members have questioned whether or not a conflict exists given the Mr. Garibaldi is employed at Bank of Amador. The conflict being, according to the community members, that Mr. Garibaldi could profit from a subdivision full of new homes when the Bank of Amador made home loans for the potential buyers.

. Also of concern to the citizens at the meetings was the appearance of Bank of Amador President Larry Standing’s name on a list of the project’s supporters. The City Attorney, Tom Gibson, when asked for an opinion at a recent city council meeting stated that he did not see any conflict. He has now followed up with a lengthy written opinion that states much the same thing- no conflict exists for Commissioner Garibaldi. Gibson begins by explaining that Commissioner has on file with state Fair Political practices Board statements that show that he does have enough financial interest in the Bank of Amador to potentially have a conflict regarding issues that come before the planning Commission in which the bank has a direct or indirect connection, however in this situation neither of those criteria exists.

slide35 Gibson points out that the Bank of Amador has no past or present connection with the project or the developer New Faze. Gibson points out that there are many other lenders that could and will be making mortgages on the potential homes and therefore there is no conflict under the Fair Political Practices Act. Gibson emphasizes the law, which states that a business entity is directly involved in a decision if the entity is named as a party to the proceeding, initiates the proceeding by filing an application, claim, appeal or similar requests or is otherwise the subject of a proceeding. Since the Bank has not played a role in the Jackson Hills project application process, it is not directly involved in the Planning Commission’s action on the project. Regarding the matter of indirect involvement or the question of Garibaldi’s economic interests regarding the issue of could he personally profit from the decision made by the planning commission in regards to the Jackson Hills Project or for that matter any decision Garibaldi participated in, Gibson also states that there is no information that supports the conclusion or even suggests that Commissioner Garibaldi’s economic interests, including an incentive bonus he may receive, is in any way related to the Jackson Hills project. Gibson states that Based on the facts as presented, Commissioner Garibaldi’s economic interests in the Bank do not establish a conflict of interest in relation to the Jackson Hills project.