Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Conflict of Interest? Yes or No?

The Nieman Rd corridor project goes from 55th Street south to Shawnee Mission Parkway.

With this in mind, yours truly asked last night at the council meeting that the city attorney make a determination as to whether or not two council members who own commercial properties in the corridor had a conflict of interest.  They are Dan Pflumm (Johnson Drive and Nieman) and Jeff Vaught (5700 block of Nieman).

To his credit, Dan Pflumm indicated that he was in favor of an opinion from the city attorney.  He is to be commended for that. Vaught kept his mouth shut (strange, eh?).

My request was based on a section of Charter Ordinance 40 that makes reference to council members abstaining from actions where there is a real or perceived conflict.  Also, at the May 3, 2016 council committee meeting when the item was discussed Vaught made the following comment(as per the minutes): 

"And, you know, I’ve got a building for lease up the street. There’s a building two spaces for lease across the street from me, and there’s a few other spaces for lease up and down. I’m telling you what, guys, I don’t get the calls. I show my property and the comments I get kind of embarrassing."

It appears to me that he definitely has a stake in this project.

Anyway, in response to Mr. Pflumm's concurring in the need for a legal opinion the city attorney did indicate that as far as he could remember they would not be in violation of state statutes.  I personally feel that an off the top of the head quick response on an item of this nature is insufficient.

As a result, yours truly has requested that a written opinion be provided, since the city's charter ordinance does refer to a real or perceived conflict.

My personal opinion...............they should recuse themselves from any discussions and votes on this project.  Let's see what the city attorney comes up with.