Wednesday, June 5, 2013

To recuse or not to recuse?

    I was a Sun Valley city councilman for 16 years and have an understanding of the ethical requirements related to governing. I have been disappointed in council members Nils Ribi, Franz Suhadolnik and Mayor Dewayne Briscoe’s refusal to address their conflict of interest regarding the proposed Juniper Road augmentation and streetlight.
    During the time I served the people of Sun Valley as an elected official, I observed recusals and while the law may not have specified that these recusals were required, it was the ethical thing to do.
    The council members own homes and the mayor’s fiancee has a rental home accessed by Juniper Road. In a recent article, the mayor has attempted to justify his position by stating neither he nor any relative or friend own property there. He has stated in council meetings how much time he travels Juniper visiting his fiancee.
    I witnessed the mayor recuse himself regarding this matter. Now he has recanted this position.
    The mayor and council members stated there is a public safety issue at this intersection, providing only unsubstantiated safety claims. They have not evaluated any other intersection in the city. Why evaluate only this intersection? If they lived on a different street, would Juniper be a concern?
    The ethical action for the mayor and council members is to recuse themselves from further involvement on this issue. Using a loophole in the Idaho State statutes to justify their actions is wrong. The remaining council members can be entrusted with the decision.
    The attorney general in the Idaho State Ethics Manual states, “Proper analysis of ethical statutes should not be for loopholes or technicalities by which one can take advantage of government, the public, or other interested parties. If your analysis requires that you find a loophole within Idaho’s ethical statutes, then your conduct is likely unethical.”
Kevin Laird
Sun Valley

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