Conflict of Interest Charges Dog Atherton Interim City Manager
Original post made by Tim J., Atherton: Lindenwood, on Apr 11, 2011
Apparently, the background investigator found little fault with Mr. Danielson's past.
Nonetheless the controversy surrounding Mr. Danielson's failure to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest in his administration continue to swirl.
Mr. Danielson was severely criticized by the FY 2004-05 Sacramento County Civil Grand Jury for his failure to adequately address conflict of interest concerns pertaining to the award of a contract for law enforcement services with Sacramento County.
The Grand Jury's report is most alarming when considering Mr. Danielson may be asked to supervise the issuance of a request for proposal for law enforcement services in Atherton. Additionally, Mr. Danielson has responsibility for supervising an investigation into Police corruption.
Of additional concern is that Danielson retained Wynn Furth's old firm McDonnough Holland for advice. This firm is now defunct after loosing a string of high profile cases.
The following is a section of the Grand Jury's report condemning Danielson. The full text, including the City Manager's rebuttal can be found at
2. The City Manager
The City Manager is the administrative head of the City government, and is responsible for the operation of all City departments. He serves at the pleasure of the Council. The current City Manager, Mr. John Danielson, has served since 2001. He prepares the agenda for the Council meetings, briefs the Council members before the meetings and has great influence over the process used by the Council in its deliberations.
The City Manager was well aware that Mr. Cooper and Mr. Leary were strongly resisting advice to strictly adhere to conflict of interest requirements, and that they were very antagonistic towards the City Attorney with respect to this issue.
In an attempt to address the conflict issue in October of 2001 the City Manager provided an outside legal opinion from the McDonough legal firm. The opinion was prepared without the knowledge of
the City Attorney, so that the two Council members would know that it was independent of Mr. Manzenetti’s legal opinions.
The City Manager knew that conflict of interest problems relative to law enforcement services occurred repeatedly. He was aware that conflict of interest requirements were not being observed. He could have, but did not, establish a process to ensure that conflict
of interest issues were dealt with explicitly and in accordance with the law.
In addition to the many times when the Council explicitly considered issues related to the Agreement for Law Enforcement Services, there were instances in which law enforcement issues were commingled with other budget issues in a single vote. Votes on the law enforcement budget items were included within the total municipal budget on October 4, 2000, July 11, 2001, June 5, 2002, and June 4, 2003.
Each of these appears to have been a violation of the conflict of interest requirements of section 1090. The City Manager should have ensured that issues related to the Agreement for Law Enforcement Services were separated from other Council actions so that the members with conflicts could recuse themselves and avoid voting inappropriately.