Commissioners Moran, Sanghvi, Montagnino: They see no problem
In the February 14, 2022, edition of the Foothills Business Daily (FBD), with the exception of Public Works Commissioner Scirocco who is out due to illness, Mayor Kim’s other colleagues have come out in support of Mayor Kim stating that they see no conflict of interest in his being both Mayor and City Attorney. Further, they found no problem in relying on him for the city’s legal needs.
Three city council members reached in time for this publication do not see a problem with the mayor in his dual role.Foothills Business Daily
Commissioner Minita Sanghvi told FBD that she has observed no “improper behavior.”
Commissioner Dillon Moran assured the FBD that “he had gotten the legal counsel he needed.”
[Commissioner] Montagnino said there may be times when the mayor would be in a conflict of interest as mayor and city attorney. That would keep him from acting as counsel in a specific situation, “but that’s not a blanket disqualification.”FBD
Conflict of Interest?
Here is a definition of “conflict of interest” from a website called Indeed (they regularly advertise on public radio):
Conflicts of interest have many forms, from financial to personal. They can occur any time someone in a position of power could be motivated to abuse their position to earn money, make connections, build a reputation or otherwise promote their personal goals.Indeed
It would seem that this would cover the mayor’s dual role.
Alice In Wonderland
Mayor Kim appointed himself as the city attorney. He then provided legal advice to the members of the Council in his capacity as the City Attorney confirming for them that he could be and had become their City Attorney. (Having trouble with that syllogism?)
A rigorous and responsible City Council would have sought an independent opinion regarding the dual role. Unfortunately, we do not have that kind of council.
What Is Most Troubling Is Not His Conflict Of Interest
In an example of magical thinking, Mayor Kim continues to assert that he never lied to Judge Wait.
Mayor Kim told FoothillsBusinessDaily.com last week that he did not lie to the judge. He believed the case had been adjourned. He was in City Hall and could have shown up in court within minutes if called, he said last week.Foothills Business Daily
So Mayor Kim sent an email to Judge Wait that stated that he and the attorney representing the defendant had agreed to seek an adjournment.
It has been established that the defendant had no lawyer. Simple logic tells us that he could not have reached an agreement with a lawyer who did not exist. Therefore, the statement to Judge Wait that he and a non-existent lawyer had reached an agreement is demonstrably false.
It is also rudimentary that only a judge can grant an adjournment. As my FOIL for the email is languishing in city hall (it has been more than two weeks) I do not know if the email sent by Mayor Kim requested an adjournment or worse, maybe instructed Judge Wait to adjourn the case. Amazingly though, Ron Kim, a lawyer as he likes to repeatedly tell us, felt no responsibility to check with the court to see if the judge had granted the adjournment before he told the defendant not to show up and decided himself to skip the hearing.
What the record shows is that Judge Wait never granted an adjournment and that the defendant and Mayor Kim were required to appear in court even if only to ask for an adjournment.
Nevertheless, Mayor Kim still insists that it was Judge Wait’s fault that he did not appear in court.
Which brings me to my central point: What is truly scary is that Commissioners Montagnino, Sanghvi, and Moran believed they, and the city, could rely on Attorney Ron Kim for sound legal advice.