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Vacant Hart board seat proves tough to fill

Posted: September 12, 2013 6:40 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:40 p.m.
Chris Fall just after he was announced as the appointee to replace Paul Strickland in June. Signal file photo Chris Fall just after he was announced as the appointee to replace Paul Strickland in June. Signal file photo
Chris Fall just after he was announced as the appointee to replace Paul Strickland in June. Signal file photo

SANTA CLARITA - The most recent Hart district board member to vacate his seat may still have a claim to it — depending on whether he wants it or not.

Due to a Mouse Trap game-like series of events, Chris Fall, who tendered his resignation from the board due to a potential conflict of interest, is still considered a board member by the Los Angeles County clerk’s office, William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced Wednesday at a meeting Fall didn’t attend.

It goes like this:

On June 5, Fall was appointed to serve out the board term of Paul Strickland, who resigned effective May 1.

On Aug. 7, county election offices received Fall’s paperwork to seek a full, four-year board term in the upcoming November election.

On Aug. 14, the election was canceled because only three candidates — Fall, board member Bob Jensen and board President Joe Messina — had filed to run for the three seats up for grabs. As a result, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office deemed the three candidates elected.

On Aug. 16, Fall left the board after becoming aware of a potential conflict of interest. He consults with a company that provides waste and recycling services to the Hart district.

But according to the clerk’s office, he’s already elected, according to Hart district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

Now Fall must either renounce his claim to the board seat or decide to continue serving on the board, which opens him up to possible conflict-of-interest claims.

Members of the Hart district board were set to discuss the time line to appoint a replacement for Fall at their meeting Wednesday night but were stymied because they hadn’t heard from Fall, Pinsker wrote in an email.

Calls from The Signal to Fall was not returned Thursday.

Retaining his seat may not be an option for Fall, whose deemed conflict of interest fell under section 1090 of the California Government Code.

That section reads, in part, “Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.”

This means Fall’s membership on the board could be a conflict of interest even if he was not involved in the contract process.

“If a member of a multi-member body with contracting power has a financial interest in a contract, section 1090 generally provides that the contract cannot be made even if the member has disqualified himself or herself from actually participating in the contract,” reads a post on the code on the California Attorney General’s website.

Current Hart district board members voted Wednesday night to give a three-year contract to the company Fall consults for, Consolidated Disposal Service.

That company's bid for the contract was the lowest received by the district, according to documents.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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