Dependable Erection

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pot, meet kettle

From the Indy's Triangulator blog:
Durham City-County Planning Commission Chair George Brine has told the Indy he plans to sit out tonight’s public hearing on Jordan Lake’s critical watershed boundary, “unless the attorneys tell me otherwise.” The commission is scheduled to recommend whether to incorporate changes resulting from a developer-funded survey of Jordan Lake into the city and county’s Comprehensive Plan.

In a letter dated June 1, 2009, lawyers representing Southern Durham Development, which would financially benefit from the map change, accused Brine of holding a “personal opinion” on the matter, and said his participation in the hearing would “further taint this already deeply flawed process.” When asked if the letter had influenced his decision, Brine said, “That’s part of it. But it’s better for the commission without any clouds hanging over them.”

In an interview, Durham Planning Director Steve Medlin said Brine had no legal obligation to step down from the public hearing, since he serves in an advisory capacity and is encouraged to form, and share, opinions. Brine was one of several applicants who asked the N.C. Environmental Management Commission to reconsider the N.C. Division of Water Quality’s approval of the developer-funded survey.

“He’s not in violation of rules of procedure, or ethics policy, as we read it,” Medlin said of Brine, adding that “he could sit if he wanted to.”

for "lawyers representing Southern Durham Development" read K&L Gates lawyers Bill Brian and Patrick Byker. I don't know much about Mr. Brian, but Patrick Byker was the guy who, a few months ago sought to appoint himself the representative from the Rock Creek neighborhood to the Inter Neighborhood Council so that he could cast a vote in that advisory body in favor of altering Durham's current billboard ordinance. Oh yeah, he also represents to billboard industry in lobbying the city and county to make that change. Current INC president Craigie Sanders also works for K&L Gates, and has had to recuse himself from almost every vote the INC has taken during his term, since he's got a financial interest in the outcome. that's what a real conflict of interest is. Tonight's meeting isn't a criminal trial, and there's no obligation for any of the members of the advisory board to limit themselves to evidence presented at the hearing. Byker's sleaze just gets thicker every time his name appears in the paper.


  • I'm inclined to agree on the Byker analysis. His move to appoint himself INC rep to vote on the billboard ban was pretty sleazy. On this whole conflict of interest issue, Byker would be well advised to spend some time thinking about the glass house he's living in. . . .

    By Blogger Kelly, at 8:56 AM  

  • The tactics of the the 751 assemblage team throughout this whole, ridiculous Jordan Lake redrawing scenario only underscore the fact that the citizens are the underdogs where development is concerned --even in the rare case when they can maintain their momentum and involvement through a lengthy and discouraging process like this one.

    Let's hope the citizens of Durham can keep up their momentum and their ACTIONS long enough to win this one for Durham.

    By Blogger Rooney, at 10:07 PM  

  • Thank you for covering this, Barry. As always.

    It's troubling to see the development industry manipulating Durham's planning process.

    So, a Durham planning commissioner member has expressed an opinion about a large development project in Durham. Imagine that.

    Apparently, the development industry thinks we should not tolerate the head of an advisory body providing, ummm, advice.

    Can't have that. Take away his vote -- industry lawyers demand.

    Of course, this all begs the question, what is the development industry afraid of?

    And, if industry lawyers are truly worried about objectivity, where is industry's demand that planning commissioners with ties to the development industry can't vote?

    Did that memo get lost in the mail?

    By Blogger John, at 9:09 AM  

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