Fergusson has no conflict yet, commission says

Sought advice before D.C. trip

The informal opinion of the Fair Political Practices Commission is that a Menlo Park councilwoman at this time doesn't have a conflict of interest by participating in council business regarding high-speed rail and also working for Siemens, a global corporation interested in bidding on the project.

According to emails released to the Almanac by the ethics commission, Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson asked for advice before traveling to Washington, D.C., in early March to meet with legislators regarding high-speed rail after a "political detractor" complained of a conflict of interest.

"The political detractor pointed out on Friday that Siemens promotes itself as a manufacturer of High Speed Trains and rail equipment, and therefore, in that person's mind, I have a conflict of interest," Ms. Fergusson wrote on March 6. "I do not believe that I have a conflict of interest, and request that the FPPC make a determination on that matter."

On March 31, she also told the commission that Siemens was one of 1,100 companies listed on the rail authority's website as expressing potential interest in the high-speed rail project, and that she had voted as a member of the Menlo Park City Council to sue the rail authority.

The ethics commission responded on April 1 that Ms. Fergusson's "decisionmaking could potentially financially effect (sic) Siemens, but it's not foreseeable yet. She should probably request further advice (maybe written advice) if Siemens becomes more involved in the actual CHSRA (request for proposals) down the road."

The response also states that this was not a final decision by the commission, and didn't constitute legal advice.

In a memo sent by Ms. Fergusson on April 8 to her colleagues on the dais, she said she'll keep participating in council decisions related to high-speed rail until a conflict exists.

That might settle one source of consternation regarding Ms. Fergusson's trip to Washington, D.C., but not another the councilwoman still hasn't decided whether to ask the council to reimburse the approximately $1,400 trip. In the days leading up to the trip, residents expressed indignation over her plan to stay in a $400-per-night hotel.

City Manager Glen Rojas said he wasn't aware of a deadline for submitting reimbursement requests, apart from the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

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Like this comment
Posted by citizens
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

Ferguson needs to resign, all she has done is cause embarasement,
over the top drama, and display lack of good judgement. What she
couldn't drive to Sacramento, she had to take a plane, they should
put ineffect a rule 500 miles or less for meetings, you need to drive, no reason she can't sit in traffic like the rest of us. If she
won't resign, the council should censor her. her actions remind us of the guy who served on the fire board a number of years, who was always in the paper for his lack of good judgement and professionalism. he too embarraseded the department and voters.

Like this comment
Posted by concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:42 am

[Post removed. Same IP address using more than one name.]

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

"Remember the Bohannon Project, where she had to have a half of million dollars worth of flowers, other wise the project couldn't move forward ?"
Yep, and at the same time she demanded these funds for flowers she opposed any mitigation for the impact of this project on the Fire District. Real Core Values.

Like this comment
Posted by Tim Wulff
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Tim Wulff is a registered user.

I hope this isn't rude, but I'd like to try to clarify.

Calls for resignation are absurd and futile.

This (generally in the County) is a power conflict.

It is time for the voters to assert their positions via the vote.

This is comparable to a war.

To expect concessions reflects a lack of understanding of what is going on. Concessions by those in power will only occur as a tactic to preserve power when it is clear that power is being lost.

Officials in San Mateo have made a mockery of the electoral process and citizen's rights for a very long time.

The only question is when will those who are not union affiliated (as opposed to financing all of what goes on) wake up and make an effort to represent their own interests.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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