During Wednesday’s online Mountain Accord Debate, Laney Jones, consultant to Mountain Accord was asked a question:
“We heard on our local radio station, KPCW, that a citizen raised questions about conflicts of interest with regard to members of the Mountain Accord’s Executive Committee. Will Mountain Accord commit to publishing on its website all conflict of interest forms from each person on the Executive Committee before the process continues?”
The answer was..
Laney Jones (of Mountain Accord): “I can address that. The executive board is made up of about 20 entities. A lot of them are elected officials and some are private entities. I think the question has arisen as to whether any of the board members have a financial interest in land or ownership around where transit lines may have been proposed where that land might benefit. To date, the decisions that have been made have not made any specific decisions about where those transit lines go or their locations. So, there haven’t been any decisions about where someone may of financially benefitted but we do think it is a good idea for all our executive board members to disclose any of their financial interests. That is going to be the recommendation to the Executive Board that those are going to be disclosed and posted on the website. And they would recuse themselves from any that would have conflict.”
We appreciate Ms. Jones comments. We believe there should be no conflicts and every decision made should be based purely on benefits to citizens. Yet our fear is that people will voluntarily disclose direct conflicts but hide the real ones. The obvious conflicts would be the Mountain Accord buying your land to put a train on it. The less obvious conflict might be if you owned a piece of property between Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon where you could put hotels and restaurants. Would you benefit from a hotel being a mile away from a transit line? Probably. Should everyone know that you have this conflict. Yes.
If we receive a voluntary list of conflicts that aren’t wide ranging it does no good. We need to demand that it is a requirement that all executive board members list all financial interests for them and relatives in Salt Lake, Summit, and Wasatch Counties. Only with a complete list, untainted by their own opinions, will we truly know there are no conflicts. We should also extend this request/requirement to legislators pushing the appropriations of $5 million to Mountain Accord in the legislature.
It’s not that we don’t trust what is happening… we just want to have complete faith that decisions are being made in the public interest.