The City Attorney offered an Opinion and Guidance tonight on the topic of Conflict of Interest. Mayor Ferre was cleared of possible conflict of interest with regard to voting for water payments to the water company her husband sits on the board of the same company. The legal opinion was that if Mayor Ferre was not included in negotiations for services or rates and is only approving the payment of the contracts negotiated there is no conflict.
Using this same standard, Jim Miller did not participate in the negotiation or price setting of the services provided by the Grand Terrace City News. He just approved payment for services negotiated and secured by City Staff. YET... the City Attorney said nothing on the Miller's case at tonight's meeting. However, in a letter much after the fact he said it "May" be a conflict of interest. SO... what is the difference?
Jim Miller is not the owner of the News Paper. Where as Mayor Ferre and every home owner in GT is a part owner of the Water Company, each property comes with a Water Company Share. Perhaps the City Lawyer is unaware of this as it was not stated in the meeting or included in the question that Council Member Walt asked. So if it is a conflict he can fall back and say well, you didn't ask the question that way... Now it "May" be a conflict.
The City Attorney was ill prepared for tonight's council agenda. He should have been prepared to respond to Red Light Contract Questions, and address the proper accounting practice for such designated funds. It is clear that some of the Council Members are interested in the red lights as money makers not just safety makers, and if it isn't turning up a revenue for the city they are interested in having the cameras removed. Following that logic lets all support our city and run the stop lights.
The city only is obligated to pay out fees received. This is not a problem, pay it and don't spend any of the receipts for the remainder of the contract, in order to cover the term of the contract. The Sheriff's department could mark all tickets written in a way that the court records will default to a Hand Written Violation vs a Auto Cop Camera Violation... This is an administration problem the Sheriff / Court should resolve, not the Red light Camera Company.
The lack of professionalism in the Finance and Accounting Department is shocking... just shocking... The most that could be said was the funds overspent were spent for traffic and safety... but there is no way to tell on what without a full audit. Now the truth... stinks doesn't it.