Claremont Insider: Elderkin Conflict

Friday, February 23, 2007

Elderkin Conflict

Reading through the Linda Elderkin piece in the 2/21/2007 Bulletin, we couldn't help but notice Elderkin spoke with much authority but failed to provide any actual documentation for her claim that she would have no conflict of interest in either the Vulcan mining proposal or the prospective sale of that same land to a developer. As we noted, the sale is potentially a $174 million or more deal. Elderkin's husband's employer, Pomona College, owns a 1.25 percent interest in that land, which translates to a $2.17 million or more windfall for the husband's employer.

As we remarked before, the city attorney made a prior recommendation that Llewellyn Miller, when he was on council, had a conflict of interest regarding a city decision on the Sagehen Cafe at Pomona College, which employed Miller's wife Cecilia Conrad. That matter involved a much smaller dollar amount than the potential $2.17 million interest for Pomona College in the possible land sale.

Elderkin presented other troubling signals as well. In her Bulletin piece, Elderkin wrote: " is important to me to share with readers the response of the city attorney...." However, she neglected to include the actual responses the city attorney supposedly gave to her. She only gave her interpretation of those reported responses. Not that we don't trust Elderkin, but she didn't really give any citations that would support her claims of no conflict. What we'd like to see is any actual opinion given by the city attorney.

What exactly was that response? Was it addressed directly to Elderkin as a client? If so, then that might be a violation of state laws governing the participation of government staff in the electoral process. Elderkin, who is a process queen and League of Women Voters member, should be acutely aware of such problems. We'd like to see Elderkin release any correspondences or opinions from the city attorney. That would at least show good faith on her part.

Elderkin made such statements as: "I have no conflict and can vote on General plan and zoning changes." But, as we previously noted, the conflict had nothing to do with the General Plan. It is a pretty simple matter. If her husband's employer benefits above a certain dollar amount from any sale of the land, Elderkin, if elected, is precluded by law from participating in any discussion and vote on the matter. (See the California Fair Political Practices Commission guidelines for these sorts of conflicts.)

Finally, we'd like to know if the city attorney's opinion for Elderkin actually states that she absolutely has no conflict of interest. If it does not flatly state that, Elderkin was not truthful in her Bulletin piece, and she should acknowledge that.

Of course, unless Elderkin or the city releases the city attorney's opinion, we'll never know.