October 22, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Opinion: Councilmember Davis on Miramar Recusal

By Gleam Davis, Santa Monica City Councilmember

Prior to receiving any inquiry from any member of the public, I timely sought an opinion regarding whether I had a potential conflict of interest regarding the Miramar development agreement that was set for hearing on September 29, 2020.

Upon receiving a preliminary opinion from the FPPC that I had a potential conflict, I followed the FPPC’s direction and recused myself from the September 29 hearing regarding the Miramar and the second reading of the development agreement ordinance regarding the Miramar.

About a month after the Miramar hearings, I received a final opinion from the FPPC that was substantially similar to its preliminary decision. I immediately provided a copy of the FPPC’s Final Order to the Interim City Attorney.

As the Miramar hearings were completed and I had recused myself from those hearings, I saw no reason to take any further action.

As there seems to be some confusion about it, here is the relevant timeline of the issue:

In April, 2012, when the Miramar float up was first heard by council, my husband was not an employee of Dell Technologies or any of its subsidiaries. After the first Miramar hearing, in the summer of 2012, my husband began a new job with Sonicwall.

After my husband joined Sonicwall, Sonicwall was purchased by Dell Technologies. Thus, he never was hired directly by Dell Technolgies but became indirectly employed by Dell through his job at Sonicwall.

Between 2012 and 2020, the Council was not asked to make any decisions regarding the Miramar project. As a result, there was no need for me to ask for an opinion as to whether or not I had a conflict and would need to recuse myself from participating in any hearing to approve the Miramar.

From 2012 through the present, my husband’s employment with Sonicwall, or Dell Technologies, or one of its subsidiaries was fully disclosed on my annual Form 700 filed with the City. My husband does not know Michael Dell, and his compensation at Sonicwall or Dell Technologies was not and is not in any way affected by the City’s decision on the Miramar project.

After the Planning Commission approved the Miramar project in 2020 and I knew that it would come before Council, I asked the Interim City Attorney for an opinion regarding the potential presence of a conflict. At that time, no member of the public ever had raised the issue of a potential conflict with me.

After I had asked the Interim City Attorney for his opinion regarding the conflict, I received an inquiry about a potential conflict from a member of the public and I told her that I already had asked for an opinion from the City Attorney and that I would abide by that decision.

After that, I received several more inquiries as to whether I would recuse myself from the matter and I told everyone that I had asked for an opinion from the Interim City Attorney and would abide by his decision.

As I said in my statement of recusal on the night of the hearing on the Miramar, the Interim City Attorney did not believe that I had a conflict but he did suggest that I ask the FPPC for an opinion.

I did so and, prior to the hearing on the Miramar, I received a preliminary opinion from the FPPC that I had a potential conflict. Based on that FPPC opinion, I recused myself from the initial hearing of the Miramar Development Agreement and from the second reading of the Development Agreement ordinance.

About a month after the hearing, I received a final opinion stating that I had a conflict. I provided a copy of that opinion to the Interim City Attorney but, as it was consistent with the preliminary FPPC opinion and there were no further Miramar hearings scheduled, I didn’t see a need to publicize the final decision.

Should any further items relating to the Miramar come before council, I will recuse myself from them consistent with the FPPC’s opinion.

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