Is Our Legislative Body Performing its Fiduciary Duty?
Are members of the legislative body, the Board of Directors for Orangevae Recreation and Park District performing their fiduciary duty to the residents they serve? As a resident of Orangevale i'm offering you an opportunity to think about the ethical obligations of these public servants and act or be apathetic!
In a representative democracy, when voters of Orangevale elect a "director" residents are putting their "trust" and "confidence" in that person (director's must be residents of Orangevale) to act in the residents best interests. Always putting resident's interests first is the essence of public service ethics. As publicly elected officials, directors make important decisions on behalf of the residents of the district and are legally accountable for how they spend monies of the public agency.
A FIDUCIARY; is a resident of the district who decided (to be elected and to serve residents)to act for and on behalf of another person (residents) in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust. A fiduciary is expected to be "loyal" to residents to whom he or she owes the duty and "must not" put his or her personal interests or bias before that duty.
A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP; is one founded on trust and confidence reposed (to place trust in someone) by one person (a resident) in the integrity and fidelity of another (a director). A fiduciary relationship exists when trust is reposed on one side and there is resulting power and authority on the other side. Thus, the placement of one's trust, confidence and responsibilty in another person or persons is the definition of a fiduciary relationship.
Defining Fiduciary Duties
Because a fiduciary has the power and obligation to act for another, the law imposes on fiduciaries strict standards of diligence, responsibilty and honesty. These are similar to federal law standards for public officials, which impose on them the broad obligation to serve the public honestly. What does this means? According to federal prosecutors, honest public service means being conscientious, loyal, faithful, disinterested and unbiased. Would a public Statement made by Chairman Mike Stickney "at this point in time we like um and that's not going to change" indicate a personal interest and a bias? This statement was made in reference to why the Board of Directors wants Final 9 Sports located on and within Orangevale Community Park.
THE DUTY OF CARE; the law speaks in terms of a fiduciary using his or her best efforts on behalf of residents. This means using all possible skill, care and diligence and availing themselves of all material information before acting on behalf of their residents. That means reading relevant documents, reports and studies.
Values relevant to public service decision-making include trustworthness, fairness, responsibility, loyalty, compassion and respect. Respectfully hearing (during public meetings) from residents of the district about resident needs, complaints, wants and what they don't want is a necessary process for public officials. Directors who require greater engagement can view themselves as stewards of an open public decision-making process.
THE DUTY OF LOYALTY; a fiduciary is "forbidden" from acting in any manner adverse or contrary to the interests of the residents he or she serves. As a public servant, your loyalty (faithful adherence) must be to the residents that you serve. And, not to the district's lawyer, non-residents and certainly not to your own self interests. So, chairman Mike Stickney publicly stating "we happen to believe something different." That public statement was made in reference to the board paying their lawyer and doing what the lawyer said, as the board accepted the lawyer's opinion, as the lawyer's interpretation of Government Code 5786.1. (b) say's its ok for the board to lease district owned, publicly owned real property to the non-resident business owners of Final 9 Sports.
The premise underlying conflict-of-interest law is that when decision-makers are in a position where they might reasonably be tempeted to put their own interests ahead of the public, the best course of action is for them to step aside from the decision-making process. The goal is to erase any doubt about director's motivations, so residents can be assured its best interests will always come first. This is because the law determines that the public's trust and confidence in its decision-makers is more important than the decision-makers participation.
Honesty: Being Open and Transparent
AS A PUBLICLY ELECTED OFFICIAL; a Board of Director is held to a higher legal and ethical standard than the residents they serve. They are subscribed an "oath of office" to "faithfully and impartially" carry out the duties of their office. Thus, certain types of conduct which might be permissible in the context of ordinary (casual) business dealings of residents are off limits to a fiduciary because of the attributes of the relationship. Only registered voters of Orangevale can vote for a director, who must also be a resident of Orangevale, this means "directors have no fiduciary duty to non-residents."
Director Manuel Meraz publicly stating "they were an answer to all our problems" this statement is in reference to why the board wanted Final 9 Sports in Orangevale Community Park. These public statements made by members of the Board of Directors are examples of the "self interests" of these publicly elected officials. As a resident, why take your time to publicly address them, when the Board of Directors will do whatever they want, whatever their lawyer says they can do, and then say they "believe" they are acting in their residents best interests!
Breach of their Fiduciary Duty
What constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty? Would say a written request from the two (2) non-resident business owners of Final 9 Sports to the Board of Directors to put their request on the district's agenda "for a disc golf pro shop" and eighteen (18) months later, the Board of Directors acted on the agenda item by motiom, a second motiom, and by majority vote of the board, (after dismissing residents opposition to this business and the board accepted their lawyer's opinion) voted to approve a lease aggreement between the district and the non-resident business owners of Final 9 Sports to allow them to put their own modular building and their own commercial business on and within Orangevale Community Park for a financial benefit (significant benefit) to the business owners.
A breach of fiduciary duty would apply to the chairman, as the chairman allowed the non-resident written request to become an agenda item and a breach of fiduciary duty would apply to the Board of Directors, as they acted by motion, a second motion and by majority, voted on the agenda item that was not a resident request!
As fiduciaries, directors "shall not" put themselves in a position where their own self interests conflict with the duties that they own to their residents. The accepted view "law" is that good faith must not only be done, but must be manifestly (evidence of) seen to be done, and the law will not allow directors to escape liability by asserting that they "believe" their decisions were in the residents best interests.
The director's loyalty to the two (2) non-residents of the district is "a breach of their fiduciary duty" (the Sacramento county grand jury should be able to determine this issue) and that was in 2001-2002.
In 2011, it turns out chairman Mike Stickney and the Board of Directors were again loyal to the non-resident business owners, as members of the board acted by motion, a second motion and by majority, voted in haste to approve the use of district funds (public funds) to purchase a $40,000.00 Gazebo that was one (1) of six (6) requested park improvements requested in 2009 by the business owners to the Board of Directors, that again became an agenda item and "somehow" (without board approval) ended up on the district's 2009 Capital Project list!
Chairman Mike Stickney and members of the Board have plans for spending more district funds to further give back to these two (2) non-resident business owners. Of the 25,000 plus Orangevale residents, who of you are watching this district, this public agnecy, as residents it is your responsibilty. When you elected these directors did that mean you could turn a blind eye to them and let them do whatever they want, whenever they want? Orangevale residents, you should have been more responsible for what was created for your enjoyment and well being. The district is your yours, the parks are yours, it's all for your enjoyment and for your benefit. It does not belong to district staff or to the casual, informal and self-serving Board of Directors even though they think and act like it is their district, it is definiftly not their district to do whatever they want with. I want to ask all Orangevale residents, what will you do, continue to be silent and apathetic and live your lives or will you step up and speak up?
Sincerely; from a 42 year Orangevale resident and a constituent
Is Our Legislative Body Performing Its Fiduciary Duty?
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