consultants are sandburs

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Conflict of interest - how remote is a tie that conflict is imagined, possible, but too disabling of too many situations if rigidly applied?

KAAL TV, online reporting, here, reference back to here.

Carried to the absurd, would you fault a Ramsey council member for voting on having a VA clinic in Ramsey, without disclosing in writing on the record that he/she is a veteran and hence would benefit from the clinic being near home?

That would mean faulting the mayor, Tossey, and Wise, if not others; and to say such an interest is disqualifying would shrink the number of "unconflicted" decision makers unreasonably. There is an online case on point. Similarly, Tossey would not be disqualified to vote on Town Center stuff while owning a home there, as any such conjured disqualification would impact many citizens' right to run and represent Ward 3. Drawing a line of what's kosher or not is not easy, but the Wise real estate dealings were voted to be problematic while he serves on council. That is both very direct, and with a substantial amount of public money involved. It is not some speculative thing where a speculative small boost in market value of a home in Town Center would disqualify one from voting on minor subsidy to a restaurant, on the argument that another restaurant there would make it a more desirable place to live.

Factors to keep in mind, the public's wanting to discourage likely mischief, the amount at stake, requiring a gap between end of service and taking certain employments, the directness vs remoteness of the conflict, whether suitable advanced public disclosure is given so the public has information it may judge, and whether a decisive vote has been entered by the conflicted person.

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