Dependable Erection

Thursday, August 07, 2008

InterNeighborhood Council followup

I've gotten a few emails from current and former board members of the INC taking me to task for my call for the incoming INC president to resign. (Note: i've re-enabled anonymous commenting for the time being to deal with this issue. I'll publish your comments on this topic anonymously if you want.) I've been told that my zoning case example below is inaccurate, and that INC would not take a position one way or another in a zoning case as i described. I concede the point.

I've also been told that the incoming INC president is uniquely qualified for the position by virtue of his education and experience. I concede that point as well.

Those points are irrelevant, however. The key factor is this: According to published reports, neighborhood opponents and adjacent property owners of the Fairfield rezoning filed a valid petition against the rezoning. The result of that petition meant that supporters of the project needed 6 votes on City Council to get it approved, rather than a simple majority. The incoming INC president, who had a financial stake in having the rezoning approved, then lobbied some of those adjacent property owners to remove their signatures from the petition. This lowered the bar for getting the rezoning approved in Council back to a majority.

No one has yet disputed this account of what happened. As i've said, i am not and was not an opponent of this rezoning. My objections to the actions of the incoming INC president are not based on supporting or opposing his position. They are based on the conflict of interest that his lobbying on behalf of his client exposed. This conflict of interest is damaging to the InterNeighborhood Council. The INC board may choose not to see this or act on it. And i suppose that if they manage to keep people in neighborhoods throughout the city from seeing what has happened, they can minimize the damage to the organization. But i'll be honest. Unless someone steps up with a flat out declaration that the published reports are inaccurate, and provides some evidence to support that, i intend to keep pointing out this conflict of interest.

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3 Comments:

  • Craigie Sanders is a lawyer for developers, working for whomever will pay him. I don't know if that precludes INC involvement, but given the typical adversarial relationship between neighborhoods and developers, it does present a conflict of interest.

    That said, the INC members HAD to have known about Craigie and his place at the development trough when they elected him. Even before he became an attorney, Cragie was a pro-development member of the Planning Commission. The only difference is that now he gets paid for it.

    The leadership of the INC has always been a thankless task----maybe Craigie was the only one willing to serve.

    By Anonymous Steve Bocckino, at 1:22 PM  

  • Steve - as i hope i've made clear, i don't see a problem with Craigie Sanders' employment, or his position on development in general or on this rezoning in particular. The conflict as i see it arises when you have a neighborhood attempting to organize around an issue, which the INC is supposed to be supporting and providing assistance to neighborhoods to do, having their internal processes disrupted by someone who is getting paid to disrupt those processes. When that person is scheduled to become the next president of the INC.

    That's a problem in my book.

    By Blogger Barry, at 2:16 PM  

  • The INC was always reluctant to get involved in neighborhood development struggles---they always seemed to be more of an information portal. That frustrated me, but maybe the INC mission has changed over the past few years while I wasn't looking.

    I agree with you----I can't see President Craigie leading any neighborhood crusaders.

    By Anonymous Steve Bocckino, at 2:15 PM  

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