Thursday, June 09, 2011

Conflict 101 - UPDATE: Clendenen cleared of conflict of interest complaint

UPDATE:Clendenen cleared of conflict of interest complaint; FPPC said there is 'insufficient evidence'
The Fair Political Practices Commission has cleared 2nd District Supervisor Clif Clendenen on allegations of a potential conflict of interest with his seat on the railroad authority.

The commission sent a letter, dated June 15, to Fortuna resident John Pelletier, who filed the complaint earlier this month. The letter stated, “after review by staff, it was determined that this complaint does not contain sufficient evidence to allege a violation of the Political Reform Act's conflict of interest provisions.”

According to a copy of the original complaint, Pelletier argued that Clendenen is violating the act by being a partner in his family business, Clendenen's Cider Works, which is located within 500 feet of the rail line the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) makes decisions on.

”It seems a victory for Mr. Clendenen for now,” Pelletier said Thursday. He did not elaborate on his concerns.

Clendenen has served on the NCRA since 2009. The orchard property, which is owned by Clendenen's mother, is adjacent to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority route.

”It seemed without merit, and I'm glad the FPPC concurs,” Clendenen said on Thursday.
Complaint alleges railroad bordering Clendenen property is conflict of interest; supervisor says claim not an issue - TS
It's interesting where this shows up:
humboldtmirror
and where it does not:
humboldtherald

Eric has picked it up:
Complaint filed with FPPC against Clif Clendenen - Sohum Parlance II

Adding prior coverage:
Kier nabs NCRA appointment; County counsel: Clendenen can vote despite FPPC complaint - Times Standaard
A divided Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve the appointment of William Kier to the North Coast Railroad Authority Board of directors.
The board's 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Virginia Bass and Jimmy Smith dissenting, came after more than a dozen members of the public addressed the board, with many of them openly lobbying for the board to appoint former NCRA Executive Director Dan Hauser....

Much of Tuesday's public comment was spent debating the concept of “rail banking” -- using out-of-service rail corridors for pedestrian trails or other uses until the corridor is needed again for rail service. A number of speakers said “rail banking” would bring an end to the railroad in Humboldt County and to the economic opportunities that would come with a revitalized rail line.

Jane Woodward said that, at a time when the nation is investing in rail, as is philanthropist Warren Buffett, it would be foolish for the board not to support revitalizing the railroad.
Councilwoman Linda Atkins resigns from NCRA board - Times Standard
Supes appoint Linda Atkins to North Coast Railroad Authority - Times Standard
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the appointment this week, with 5th District Supervisor Jill Duffy dissenting and adamantly stating her opposition -- not to Atkins, but to the application process.

Among her primary objections was the treatment of long-time NCRA board member Charles Olivier, whose seat Atkins will assume, as well as the lack of complete information on the applicant's philosophies and the related discussions held out of the public process.
Supes Tap Atkins for Rail Authority - Humboldt Sentinel
Supervisor Clif Clendenen, the other Humboldt County rep on the NCRA since shortly after his election last November, said the board had a variety of good candidates to choose from to entrust with an incredible asset like the railroad -- but then implied the need for increased trail construction to be met by himself and the new appointee.

“I’m excited to recommend Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins for this position,” he said. “She appreciates the multiple-use opportunities of our right-of-way.”
Choo-Choo Politics: The Poll! - Lost Coast Outpost

Railroad authority says rail not dead - Times Standard

But, if it is up to that "coalition of environmental groups" it will be as they are bound and determined to kill it. Question is, will it be with the help of complicit Supervisors?

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the PLF lawsuit

"Bob" said...

If you read the T-S story, you know this "complaint" filed by a rail supporter, is really a non-issue, an attempt by some revive-the-railroad dreamer to side-track rail banking efforts. It's played up by the Mirror because Cliff is on their hit list.

Eric V. Kirk said...

Yeah, it's pretty lame as controversies go. It reminds me of a complaint filed against me with the Bar by someone on the other side of a legal issue on the basis that I had accepted money from his opponent/my client for a case which had no merit - after we had prevailed in Court. As in this situation, the Bar has to consider every complaint. I suspect this complaint will go the way of the one against me.

Rose said...

The (VERY) simple solution is - Clif should trade that assignment with another. Trade with something on Mark's list, or Virginia's. There is no reason on earth for you to feel a need to defend him on this. The rail is within 500 feet? Get off the Board, and recuse yourself from any votes, problem solved.

All these regulations do hamstring public officials, and yes, it seems silly, but they were put in there for a reason, and there is just no reason to make this a hill to die on. You've got 4 other sups who can serve.

You can't legitimately make the argument that any decision on the railroad doesn't affect him. Good or bad, who knows, but it affects him, and he should do the right thing.

Why does there have to be a f-cking lawsuit to do anything around here? Maybe it's because 'political' reporters choose their bias, eh?

Eric V. Kirk said...

It affects me too, and pretty much everyone living between here and the Golden Gate Bridge. Who qualifies?

"Bob" said...

Here's the reality: they are never going to rebuild the railroad so it will never have any affect on anyone's property value, 500 feet away or not. It would require a public investment of millions upon millions and to what end? Rose, are you really down with the rail fantasy people? I'd be surprised if you are since spending our tax dollars that way would seem to be against your generally conservative politics. I still don't understand how the local Republican types (who mostly claim to be Dems) threw in their lot with Hauser and the old school Dem machine that's supported the railroad all these years. Can you explain?

Rose said...

Eric - as a lawyer - you can read - it seems that within 500 feet is a primary determinant. This is not a slam on Clif (by me) - it is merely saying that even he - and you ought to be able to see the simple solution here is for him to get off that Board and recuse himself from voting on that issue. Or if he votes, disclose his (maybe perceived) conflict. Again, this is not a hill to die on, his not being on the Board is not life or death, is it.

Bob - talking to you is so much more complicated, since you seem to do that thing that tries to make each syllable the big deal, and not see the big picture. And you're impossibly biased.

I don't have a damn dog in the rail fight. BUT - I am sick of the "woe is us, we can't do anything anymore, boohoo" crowd - and worse, the 'we don't want it so we will do everything in our power to get in the way of people who could make it happen" crowd. I hate the whiny-cry-baby small mindedness of it all.

I've said it before - men carved their way across this nation against impossible odds (with and without public funding) Not everything requires public funding. Mankind managed to cross space to step foot on the moon. (with public funding, yes, but also with that incredible initiative and creative thinking that makes man so amazing.

Nothing is impossible - IF you have the right mindset. And the whiny-cry-y mindset ain't it.

As for your perceptions of Republicans - I don't think you have any clue and your decision to lump them all into one box prevents you from hearing any discussion. You're an idiot for thinking we are (all of us, R, D, I..) so different.

Maybe it's this - we see the possible. The side you've apparently chosen likes to play semantic games, and hide the ball under the coconut shell.

I think you need to drop the (R) and (D) blinders and start defining people by a different criteria.

There are people who can and do - and those who won't and don't. there are (R's) and (D's) in both groups. That probably best answers your question. Hauser is in the can and do camp. Strip off the star on his belly that exists in your mind.

There are people who want to make up their own mind, and people who want the government to do it for them.

There are people who want to make their own decisions and think for themselves, and people who want to dictate both decisions and actions, and codify it into law, enforced by the proverbial jack-booted thugs.

(R) and (D) - conservative and liberal just doesn't do it for me, Bob.

I happen to think we have people who are smart and industrious who can figure it out. A landslide doesn't make them throw up their hands and say boohoo. Let them try. And maybe fail. And maybe succeed.

Throw in the other factor - that rail makes sense from a "green" perspective, and I am equally baffled as to why YOU don't wish to see them succeed.

"Here's the reality: they are never going to rebuild the railroad" - you say. Really?

I say - you don't know that - and in fact, mankind could come up with a hover train - you don't know that, but stifling people who are naturally creative and PROGRESSIVE in the true sense of the word will never get us anywhere but mired in stagnation. You like that, I guess. I don't.

Anyway, long rambling answer that won't really answer in full, because the issue is too complicated, and your bias is too set in stone. Your willingness to hear - well, you tell me.

And while you're at it - tell me how Democrats can treat a man like Hauser, who served them well, and represented us well, with such contempt? He has certainly had his eyes opened to see them as the rats they are, but how did it come to be?

Anonymous said...

Bob: Those are good points but why are you dissing on Hauser and lining him up with Republicans? Just because he is pro-rail? Kind of harsh.

Eric Kirk said...

Rose - the point I'm making is that the perceived conflict of interest is couched in layers of speculation as to what impact a train or the lack of might have on some potential future use (which might require a rezoning in an era in which governments are trying to preserve farmland) in which the sounds of a train might add significantly to the detriment of the existing freeway noises. It's just too big of a stretch, and your "simple" solution would set a very bad precedent as a response to a complaint filed by someone who apparently does in fact have a real interest in the matter.

As counsel pointed out in the article, there isn't even a proposal to revive the train in Fortuna on the table, so I would think the complaint doesn't even meet the "specific proposal" requirement Chris Neary mentioned.

These complaints are filed all the time, and really, the only reason this one is newsworthy is that Bill Bertain mentioned it at one of the most-watched BOS hearings of the year.

"Bob" said...

Anon, I wasn't trying to diss Dan. I'm just pointing out that the conservative set, who generally oppose anything supported by any Democrat, are now aligned with them on NCRA issues.
I actually like Dan Hauser, and Wes Chesbro, and John Wooley, I've known all of them for years, but I disagree with them when it comes to the NCRA. And it's not a "whiny mindset," it's simple pragmatism. I think holding out against rail banking and trying to stop rails-to-trails because maybe some day the lofty "can do" attitude will pay off and we will once again magically have a freight line to Humboldt is unrealistic. (BTW, I repeat, to what end? What exactly would we haul on this freight line?) Sure I'd love to take a train to the city, but there's no plan for bringing back a passenger line.

In truth, I am not biased against railroads at all. I love trains: I played with toy trains when I was a kid. I used to ride the holiday trains from Arcata to Eureka and back when they was running years ago. I've ridden AmTrac a few times, and only wish there was more public support for rails. That said, I do not believe that the money is there to rebuild the abandoned rail line through the Eel River canyon, and with state and federal deficits what they are today, and with the general unwillingness to raise taxes in any way, the money is not going to be there in the foreseeable future. IMHO, we could do something else with the right of way in the meantime.

And Rose, returning to the issue you presented here and your contention that Clif needs to step down, here's what it says in the story you link to, but are conveniently ignoring:

"Willits attorney Christopher Neary, NCRA's counsel, said he hasn't seen a copy of the complaint yet, but a general rule for board members having the railroad on their properties doesn't necessarily mean their property is impacted. Clendenen is not the only member with the 316-mile rail line running near or through property.
”We've had board members struggle with this,” he said. “Our general belief is that for most issues, it doesn't present a conflict of interest if your property is adjacent to a railroad.”

The story goes on to explain that the complainant is upset about Clif's lack of support for rebuilding a freight line and his position on rail banking. Clearly they want someone else on the board who agrees with them and this is just a ploy.

As far as my tendency to lump Repubs all into one box, isn't that the top-down Republican Party policy currently? Every Repub pol votes in lockstep as a block - it happens at the federal level and at the state level, and it's screwing things up left and right.

Rose said...

Bob, excuse me? Do you forget Patty Berg being caught on tape? Caucusing, plotting to stymie "the other side' when they were supposed to have passed a budget (CA)?

And, ever since the advent of C-SPAN we have been able to SEE the party-line votes take place.

That's why I say, once elected, your party affiliation is stripped. No more caucuses, period. No more party fundraisers. No more stumping, no more taking sides. ANY SIDE. Except the PEOPLE'S side.

That's why I suggest that the outgoing President and Governors should be kept on in an advisory capacity, not only to provide continuity, but to help put an end to the bullshit partisanship.

But it has to start HERE. And it has to start NOW. That Berg incident was published in your own paper. But nobody held her feet to the fire, just shrugged it off as "they all do it."

In local NON-PARTISAN races, your paper insists on painting it as conservative v liberal. When the local Democrats attack their own, calling lifetime Republicans "stalking-horses" your paper says nothing, when they go after Hauser, that's all fine and perfectly understandable because he's gone to the dark side, I guess.

You cheerlead the trespassing treesitters and you denigrate the "Tea Party."

We're trying to talk about LOCAL, individual and personal interaction - the ability for you to sit in a room with "conservatives" without harshly indrawn breath, and you leap to the US Congress/Senate.

I don't know what to tell you. I am sick of it, have been for more than 8 years, got tired of sitting still and being quiet. Where once we could all sit and have dinner together, now it is impossible. Why?

Rose said...

Split into two - comment too long:
I don't know what to tell you. But people say if JFK were alive today, he'd be castigated as a rightwinger. And so it is with the treatment of Hauser. It seems if you're not for giving away the store, lying and pretending to be a "professor" - you're fair game and branded.

It has reached a point where "your side" has run this state and this nation into such dangerous bankruptcy that now, a party line vote in necessary to stop it, and take steps back towards some kind of fiscal sanity.

It's too bad, as a reporter, that you never asked Thompson some tough questions about the bill he voted for and didn't read. Did he vote to repeal the 1099 thing? If so, why did he vote for it in the first place?

And Chesbro - you know and like him, fine - so ask how he feels about his role in driving us into bankruptcy. And don't let him laugh it off with "oh he's just a Junior Senator/ (whatevertheheckheisthisiterationofthemusicalchairs) - talk about his FULL record. What's he done to fix the budget? Restore the County's money? Maybe he has a good answer.

But you tell me - why is it partisan - it certainly seems like if there is ONE THING ELECTED OFFICIALS ought to do, it is set aside the differences and work together to keep spending BELOW revenues. Had he - and Berg - and the rest - been doing THAT, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

As for the original topic, fine, let Clif stay, and the next conflict that arises, you make damn sure you take the same stance.

Pretending the railroad doesn't affect him directly is stupid. there a re a million ways it could, they could put in a stop so people could buy apples and juice, a high speed rail could not only destroy the buccolic atmosphere, but could distribute a fine dust on the apples, I can imagine all kinds of scenarios without even thinking about it, some years out, some immediate... But even if you don't see it that way - it's bigger than him, those laws were put in place for a reason. The 500 foot thing was there for a reason. And frankly, he ought to choose voluntarily to do the right thing.From both of our perspectives, he has nothing to lose by stepping down from THAT Board.

More time than I wanted to waste on this - but it's nice to at least 'talk' to you again, Bob, maybe someday we really can get past it all.

janelle said...

"I don't know what to tell you. I am sick of it, have been for more than 8 years, got tired of sitting still and being quiet. Where once we could all sit and have dinner together, now it is impossible. Why?"

Rose, I think your answer is in part two of your comment where you take up the blame game.

As for part one, I agree that a better response from Clif would have been, "I didn't think there was a conflict; if the FPPC says there is, then I'll accept that." But I am not in that hot seat and I have no reason to believe that Clif finagled his way onto the Rail Authority board for personal gain.

Now, what do you think of this: This complaint has nothing to do with the fact that Clif recently announced he would be running for re-election?

Personally, I think if the person making the complaint would like to explain why it comes after Clif has been on the board for 2 1/2 years it would be easier to accept that it was not politically motivated.

Eric Kirk said...

I don't know what to tell you. But people say if JFK were alive today, he'd be castigated as a rightwinger.

Funny thing, because on many conservative forums Nixon is castigated as a left winger.

Janelle, I don't think this is about the election. Too early to play the card. I think it's about rattling Clif's nerves and "playing the ref." The commission will probably dismiss the complaint, but the whole exercise is designed to move Clif in their direction.

Paragraph 5 of the complaint basically outlines the crime - having and expressing an opinion. They want to shut him up.

The thing is, Clif really does have a moderate position on the railroad, and if he is ever convinced that it's feasible, he will support it. Anyone who wants to know what his opinion is should talk to him, or actually read his public statements. Why do you think he asked for the delay in the vote? Think about it. Or don't.

Rose said...

Janelle - I agree with you. AND, there are so many Boards that the Sups divvy up, it is a simple matter for him to trade with someone else.

There is NO reason for him to have this be an issue, and Eric, no reason for him to get rattled.

For crying out loud, solve it - and be free of it. As has been pointed out, it isn't going to make much of a difference, OTHER THAN to free him up.

Rose said...

And, Eric, on all conservative forums I have seen - Nixon is castigated for LYING. I've never heard him called a left-winger.

I have heard Bush referred to that way - because of his allowing spending to get out of control, and not reining in the Dems. :)

Eric Kirk said...

Rose - they actually call Nixon a "socialist" because he passed landmark environmental legislation which would never even make it out of committee in the post-Reagan world. And he signed off on OSHA. Plus he instituted price-wage freezes, though it seemed that only wages ever seemed to be impacted.

But I read it in a Human Events article. While JFK's foreign policy might seem hawkish in a post-Vietnam War world, Nixon's domestic policies seem almost socialist in a post-Reagan world.

As for the simple solution, if the commission says he should step down then he'll do so. He's already voted for Kier, so that's a done deal. But to simply resign because some guy filed a complaint would set a very bad precedent.

Rose said...

Eric - he should not resign because someone filed a complaint - he should be able to see for himself that there IS a conflict - IF he has been through any of the ethics training classes at all, or read ANY of the materials.

Not because someone filed a complaint - for crying out loud, not everything is a political game - but because it is OBVIOUSLY the right thing to do. WHY does he need the FPPC to tell him this? That's very troubling.

Is there something I'm missing? Is he a valuable chit in this mess? Then give it to Mark, even if his plate is already full.

Eric Kirk said...

By the way, did you know that Dan Hauser also owns property within 500 feet of the tracks? That is what I've been told by two people today.

Eric V. Kirk said...

Hal Wagonet, who is currently on the NCRA Board, will also have to resign because his property in Willits is within 500 feet of the tracks.

In any case, KMUD had a story on the issue tonight. I haven't yet heard it.

Anonymous said...

You know what Rose, the only way you are going to get Clif (to maybe sort of resign) is hack his Facebook account with some embarrassing photos. Oh wait Breitbart tried that and failed. Damn, if you really had that capability you would have done it to Gags in October of of last year. I agree this is political, lame and stupid. I also noted that you had the complaint and information in "your E-Mail" the day before the story broke. You did a teaser post on it. That's interesting. Why send it to you? Who sent it to you. Gary Philp to promote his campaign for Clif's seat? Have you picked which candidates you will back next year and lose? Newt, Mitt? Michele?

Rose said...

9:58, you are a fool. Not only do you have no clue how Facebook and Twitter interface, but Weiner has admitted he lied. LIED, and then LIED some more. He got his friends to lie, he hired people to LIE, he coached his victim/girlfriends to LIE.

NOBODY hacked his Facebook, his twitter or his Yfrog account.

He contacted women and girls and he engaged in cybersex, up to and including the point of sending them the cumshot evidently.

Now, if Breitbart was as much a scumbag as YOU, he would have helped hide those facts.

As for receiving info - yep, I get alot of that, from a surprising number of sources. Most of it never makes it on the blog because the person is not willing to go public. None of it makes it on the blog unless I can verify it with multiple sources and preferably documents in addition.

You would be shocked at the things I know and have said nothing about. But I know. And I record it.

I don't see any teaser post... where is it?

No. I don't play Salzman's sleazy games, and you are a fool. An ignorant fool.

Stephen said...

"Here's the reality: they are never going to rebuild the railroad so it will never have any affect on anyone's property value, 500 feet away or not."

Here's reality for you, Bob. You Progressives cannot stop history, you Progressives cannot stop the community from seeking economic survival. Anyone who takes the time to study the historical record of port development and human society will come to understand ports are vital and always have been to human social development. For a self-selected elite to try to stop the economic development of the majority of Humboldt citizens is in my book irresponsible as well as incredibly selfish of Progressive activists. There is no doubt that Humboldt County suffers economically--the statistics show this every year. Ports are strategic to community development and jobs and therefore community well-being. Poverty isn't a value that we should protect and that is exactly what Progressives are doing when they post pure propaganda such as the historically absurd notion Humboldt Bay will "never" be developed.

Anonymous said...

What would Salzman do?

Rose said...

This post has been UPDATED. Added prior articles relating to the NCRA topic.

Rose said...

And, 10:57, good question. There'd undoubtedly be a $1,000 bribe in the works.

And thinking of that, maybe Eric's right. Clif should not resign until there is a decision because "to simply resign because some guy filed a complaint would set a very bad precedent."

I wonder if Mark Lovelace would agree.

janelle said...

Rose, I hope we do agree. But just to be clear I need to say that I do not know the conflict of interest laws well enough to say whether he has a legal conflict. I never gave it a thought whether he should be on the board because of the tracks by their property. Heck, I think Clif grew up on that property with trains going by, I don't know if they rejoiced or mourned the last train. I know Clif as a person of integrity, end of issue for me. I believe he understood there was no legal conflict and to resign simply because someone filed a complaint is ridiculous. My understanding of the conflict laws is that they are intended to keep the discussion on the issue, and not get distracted by questions of motivation. I do not know the motivation of whoever filed the complaint, I assume it was political. But it doesn't matter to me, they had the right to raise the issue. Clif should not simply resign, as if "uh oh, guess you caught me." IMHO, if the FPPC disagrees with the authority's attorney then Clif thanks those who brought it to his attention, thanks the FPPC for relieving him of a difficult position, then moves on. If the FPPC finds there is no legal conflict then he still thanks whoever for raising the issue, thanks the FPPC for a quick decision and continues on.


Eric, I wondered too about why now, it seems too early, unless as you say it is about rattling, a response to his early announcement. But that is horse race analysis, which is entertaining, but distracting..

How does filing a complaint move Clif in their direction? I don't get it. If there is a conflict, he resigns, and it doesn't matter that much what his position is. If there is no conflict then they mend fences and get back to work, why would Clif move in their direction because of it?

"The thing is, Clif really does have a moderate position on the railroad, and if he is ever convinced that it's feasible, he will support it. Anyone who wants to know what his opinion is should talk to him, or actually read his public statements. Why do you think he asked for the delay in the vote? Think about it. Or don't."

Time with an elected representative is a precious commodity. I see this as a government transparency issue more than a railroad issue so I doubt I will discuss his position on the railroad with him. But I know Clif well enough to already know he is a moderate, and that I could not imagine him, or any of his family, using his public service for personal gain. So I don't need to think about it; I think I'll go think about something else...

Anonymous said...

Do we need to abandon this site and focus our energies on watchclif.blogspot.com? It appears Rose has abandoned her obsession of hate towards Gallegos and realized that her site helps him get re-elected.

Rose said...

If I decided to abandon this site, anon, you would know it. Sooner or later people are going to wake up - and he is one election away from losing his pot-fucked supporters. They won't need him once it is legalized, and they should be embarrassed at what they have done.

And as for Clif - NO ONE hates Clif, just as NO ONE hates Jimmy. They are good and decent people. If you can read into what I have said that I "hate Clif" you are sadly mistaken. Because what I have said is this is a simple thing to fix.

Anonymous said...

"And thinking of that, maybe Eric's right. Clif should not resign until there is a decision because "to simply resign because some guy filed a complaint would set a very bad precedent.""

The sad and ironic thing is that when Mark L. filed HIS fppc complaints against Tom Herman and John Campbell, the Times-Standard chimed in with an editorial calling for both of their resignations simply because the complaint was filed, and the fppc decided to look into it - just as they will look into the charges against clif.

Due process...for progressives only.