Alan de Jersey, Denis Royer, and David Godfrey voted to spend $50,000 in what appears to be a rather large conflict of interest in the handling of Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) funds.
It appears evident to me (as well as many of those who reside in Union Bay) that Alan de Jersey, Denis Royer, and David Godfrey (the former trustees recently removed from the UBID board) need a little education about the definition of "conflict of interest."
You see, they voted to spend an additional $50,000 of UBID funds to continue financing their lawsuit against Union Bay blogger Mary Reynolds, a lawsuit in which each of these men were (and still are) personally listed as plaintiffs.
That means that each one of them personally benefited from the passage of the motion put forward by then-UBID Chairperson Alan de Jersey. The money for the lawsuit no longer had to come out of their own pockets. It came out of the UBID treasury.
From Webster's Dictionary:
a conflict between the private interests of the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust
Dictionary.com defines it thus:
1. the circumstance of a public officeholder, business executive, or the like, whose personal interests might benefit from his or her official actions or influence.
Personally, I find the Dictionary.com definition to be much more accurate when it comes to the recent antics in Union Bay politics.
Unless your head is completely buried somewhere it shouldn't be, it is obvious that by voting to spend another $50,000 of the UBID's money instead of their own, their personal financial interests were advanced at the expense of all those who pay taxes in support of the Union Bay Improvement District.
That is, simply put, a conflict of interest.
The direct personal benefit to each of these men could not have happened without their votes. That makes this the clearest-cut example of conflict of interest that I've seen in a long time.
In fact two trustees voted AGAINST the motion, but were outnumbered by the three who stood to benefit personally from the motion's passage.
Do I need to point out that the two who voted against the motion were not party to the lawsuit against Mary Reynolds and therefore were not going to benefit personally from this motion's passage?
I should hope not.
From where I stand, the two trustees who voted against this motion were actually looking out for the interests of the Union Bay taxpayers instead of themselves. You know, exactly the sort of thing de Jersey, Royer and Godfrey ought to have been doing...
It is important to note this is not the first money paid out of the UBID treasury that personally benefited Alan de Jersey, Denis Royer, and David Godfrey. This is just the continuing installment that ended up costing Union Bay taxpayers roughly $120,000 before the new board voted to stop funding the vendetta against Mary Reynolds.
Interestingly enough, it was the passage of the vote to STOP funding this lawsuit against Mary Reynolds that first brought this case onto my radar. I hadn't heard of the case before then, and the more I dig into it, the more offensive the stench in the air surrounding Union Bay.
There is a hilarious irony to all of this, of course.
Had their egos not gotten the better of them, they could have avoided this [alleged] conflict of interest quite easily. But that's not what happened. Their egos did get the better of them, and they just had to place their names individually on the lawsuit.
And that's what creates the conflict of interest.
Had they simply left their names (and egos) out of it, there would have been no conflict. If the UBID board of trustees felt so strongly about silencing Mary Reynolds' Right to Free Speech that they wanted to sue her to shut her up, they are perfectly able to give that a go.
Law and court precedent is against them, but who cares when it's not your money that's being wasted, right?
They would have been seen as acting in the interest of the District.
But they were not.
They were acting in their own self-interest and making the good people of Union Bay foot the tab for their [alleged] personal vendetta against Mary Reynolds.
That's what caused all the ruckus at the May elections in Union Bay. The taxpayers were really pissed off at being forced to pay over $100,000 in legal fees for their trustees' personal hatred of Mary Reynolds.
It would seem that taxpayers' anger and resentment towards the people who were supposed to have Union Bay's best interests at heart (and not their own) is what caused Denis Royer and David Godfrey to be voted out of office. It also probably had a lot to do with causing Alan de Jersey to quit in a huff a month later.
Those pesky "citizens" got too uppity for his liking, I guess.
Who can blame them. Really. The average annual after-tax income for the Union Bay area is only $21,000. When their Board of Trustees decides to spend the entire annual earnings of 5 people to sue a lone blogger, it's to be expected that even the most complacent Union Bay Taxpayer will get a little uppity.
The motion put forward on April 8, 2011 and listed as "duly passed" in what appears to be the official record of that motion, reads as follows:
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. UBID pay a further retainer to the Solicitors of $50,000 for the purposes described above on behalf of itself and the other Plaintiffs in Action S-10761 and the Defendants in Action number C1474.
(Note: The "purposes described above" can be read in the full document which interested parties can download from https://christopherdiarmani.com/downloads/UBID-Resolution-2011-04-08.pdf. In short, it is the lawsuit they filed against Mary Reynolds. )
2. The payment of the retainer be made without the necessity of seeking indemnification from the individual Plaintiffs, which claims for indemnity are hereby waived pursuant to section 743 of the Local Government Act;
3. The Board of UBID accepts and ratifies the services received from the Solicitors to date as being efficient and productive and in accordance with the instructions of UBID;
4. The Board of UBID accepts the invoices rendered by the solicitors to date as being fair and reasonable, and waves any right to taxation thereof.
BY THE BOARD:
Alan de Jersey (Chair)
and certified to be a true copy of Resolution #2011-04-08 by B. Fisher
Opposed to the motion were Cleve Goldswain and Bruce Livesey.
I found it interesting that they felt no need to seek indemnification for their actions. They would seem to be getting some poor legal advice since, as I understand it, indemnification only protects trustees when they are being sued, NOT when they instigate a lawsuit.
This view was recently echoed by Carol Molstad, the new Chairperson of the Union Bay Improvement District.
Quoting from the minutes of the July 20, 2011 UBID Board Meeting:
b. Mary Reynolds letter – This letter asked that the Board clarify how the Local Government Act (LGA) applies regarding indemnification. C. Molstad stated that UBID's legal counsel concurs with the information provided. That is, that under section 745 and 287 of the LGA the intent of the indemnification provisions is to provide protection to individual members in terms of the costs associated with actions brought against them while in the course of their duties, not meant to allow for payment of claims they have against other people. (emphasis mine)
In its motions, the previous Board agreed to pay legal fees and not seek back those fees from the individual co-plaintiffs.
That would seem to leave every single one of the people listed in the lawsuit against Mary Reynolds open to a lawsuit from the citizens of Union Bay to recover the funds their past trustees and employees squandered in their zeal to shut up a lone 60-year-old woman.
The lawsuit intended to silence blogger Mary Reynolds and strip her of her Freedom of Speech is not over, either.
That lawsuit is alive and well and winding its way through the BC Courts, and there is currently a "Consent Order" in place that apparently restricts Ms. Reynolds from speaking publicly about pretty much anything in Union Bay.
The one thing of importance to note, aside from the fact this lawsuit is still before the courts, is that Alan de Jersey, David Godfrey and Denis Royer no longer have the luxury of having someone else foot the lawsuit's tab for them.
Along with fellow plaintiffs Brenda Fisher, James Smith, David McDowell, Debora McMahon aka Debbie Prowse and Gloria Royer, they now have to pay for the case with their own money.
That must really piss them off.
Lawsuits are so much more fun when someone else is paying for it, aren't they?