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Complaint filed with state against Weste

Newhall resident claims she has a conflict of interests

Posted: August 15, 2008 9:41 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.

A Placerita Canyon resident filed a complaint with a state commission Friday, alleging Councilwoman Laurene Weste's involvement with Newhall redevelopment is a conflict of interest because she owns property in the north Newhall area.

Weste said Friday, however, that she abides by all the rules and recuses herself from all votes relating to the north Newhall area, including the city's North Newhall Specific Plan project.

"I abide by all the city attorney's advice and guidance on what I can and can't vote on," Weste said. "It makes my life a lot easier to get attorney advice and then abide by it."

Resident Ben Curtis said in a news release that he filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday.

The commission regulates financial conflicts of interest among elected officials.

Curtis said that although Weste recuses herself from North Newhall Specific Plan matters that come before the council, it's her committee positions that concerns him.

Like the four other City Council members, Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency. She is also a member of the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan Ad Hoc Committee.

"Her involvement, in any way, with that (north Newhall) development is a violation of the regulations since she has a personal vested interest in the outcome," Curtis said. "She has failed to recuse herself from the entire process and still controls subcommittees that have decision-making authority over that project."

He cited the FPPC government code 87100 that reads: "No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest."

Weste said that although she sits on the downtown Newhall committee, it does not discuss North Newhall Specific Plan matters.

"There's nothing violated because the city attorney doesn't let us go on anything without going through all the Fair Political Practices (Commission) rules," she said.


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