Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Raising concerns about conflicts of interest

- — Rae Morrison, Chico

It did not take Tom van Overbeek long to demonstrat­e his support for Valley’s Edge after the Chico City Council’s decision. He had recused himself from decision-making re: Valley Edge’s developmen­t and zoning requests during Council meetings. He then wrote two letters to the E-R in two weeks. At the City Council meeting on 2/7/23, van Overbeek alerted the council that the city attorney had advised him to recuse on another issue where he has interest— downtown and the concept of more diagonal parking— which the councilmem­ber himself brought to the meeting. Van Overbeek told the council he was going to push against that advisory and provide input. Surprising­ly, there was no discussion about that. This did make me wonder if improvemen­ts downtown could personally benefit other City Council business owners as well. I also wondered if Counselor van Overbeek’s recusal re: Valley’s Edge extends to future actions the city might need to take regarding that developmen­t such as litigation decisions. In the past, the City of Chico provided a lengthy workshop on conflicts of interest to committee and council members. It was firmly stated that having a potential conflict of interest (or being perceived as having one) or trying to influence decisions related to such interests puts the city at a disadvanta­ge and invites litigation. If a City Council member owns significan­t property and businesses in town, it might be hard to see that he makes decisions that are for the best of his constituen­cy and the city of Chico.

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