Peter Carpenter, a member of the governing board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, has decided, "in an abundance of caution," to recuse himself from computer purchasing decisions by the board, Mr. Carpenter wrote in a post on the Almanac's Town Square online forum.
The reason: He is married to Jane Shaw, chairman of the board of directors at Intel Corp., a maker of computer chips often found inside computers.
Mr. Carpenter, a resident of Atherton and a local champion of open government, posted the text of an email he sent to Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman and the board.
In a separate email to the Almanac, he confirmed that the post was his.
"I think that any conflict under these circumstances is a real stretch BUT a citizen suggested that possibility and I believe that public perception and public trust trumps the more narrow construction of the law. Therefore, I have chosen to recuse myself," he wrote.
In his original email to the board, Mr. Carpenter asked that any motion that includes spending for computers be isolated for a separate vote, in which he said he would not participate.
"... Given the ubiquity of Intel chips in most computers any vote which I make to authorize (fire) district expenditures which includes computers could be perceived as inappropriate," Mr. Carpenter wrote.
"The law and good governance both require that an elected official recuse themselves from voting on any matter which might have a financial impact on them," Mr. Carpenter wrote. "The degree of separation from the corporate decision making is irrelevant, the issue is the elected official's decision making."