[KHTS] – A Hart School District board member contemplating another term on the governing board plans to make a decision before the board next meets on Wednesday.
“I have some information that was brought to my attention this week that could have an impact on my decision-making process,” said Chris Fall, who was appointed to the governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District to fill Paul Strickland’s seat.
Fall resigned to avoid a conflict-of-interest violation in August but was already recognized by Los Angeles County as an unopposed candidate for November’s election.
“I know there’s a board meeting on (Sept. 25), and I’ll be sure to have direction for the board, by that time,” Fall said. “It’s something that was unveiled to me, and i want to talk to my attorney about it.”
Fall acknowledged that after scandals like the one recently in the city of Bell, that there’s a “heightened sense of awareness” of rules and regulation.
“The days of believing you can just recuse yourself due to a perceived conflict are over,” Fall said. “Anyone who puts themselves in a position of being a public servant — there are lines that are drawn, and (those lines) are much clearer now than they were five years ago.”
Fall is a consultant for Republic Services, a company for which he declared income on his Form 700, a statement of financial interests. He also is president of Lighting, Efficiency and Design, a lighting company.
Fall sold his disposal company, Advantage Disposal, to Consolidated Services, a subsidiary of Republic, in December 2012.
Consolidated put in the lowest and, therefore, winning bid at $161,616 for the three-year contract, and was awarded the contract at the board’s Sept. 10 meeting.
Technically, a former Hart district board member is not in any violation by assuming the seat he has been named to, according to a Fair Political Practices Commission official.
And according to Max Huntsman, assistant head deputy of the Public Integrity Division for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, if a need for a contract modification arose, a simple recusal from the discussion would not necessarily indemnify the district from a conflict-of-interest claim.
“Only commenting on the law in general, the conflict of interest law is triggered by amendments and renewals of contracts, it’s not triggered just by the contract,” Huntsman said.
“The contract existing does not create a conflict, but acting on renewing it or modifying it, not just implementing it, does (qualify as a potential conflict of interest),” he said.