Saturday, March 10, 2007

When Elected (not appointed) Directors Go Bad


(Updated at bottom to include Port Moody Mayor, and current TransLink Director, Joe Trasolini's response to suggestions that he may be in a conflict of interest over property he owns near the Evergreen Skytrain Line)

Yesterday we speculated on the potential 'shill set' that could come to populate Kevin Falcon's new Fiefdom.......errrrr.....appointed (ie. not elected) board that will run the Republic of LotusLandia's transit network in the very near future.

Anyway, in the comments, Alison pointed us towards something from S.M. Holman which indicates that strange goings on can happen on elected (ie. not appointed) boards as well.

Essentially, it turns out the Port Moody Mayor, and Translink Board member, Joe Trasolini owns a chunk of property along the Evergreen SkyTrain Line.

It also turns out that Mr. Trasolini has been trying to sell the chunk of property, which he bought for a reported $2.6 million in 2004, and which is located about a quarter of a mile from the Evergreen Line's Buller St. Station, for almost a year.

All of which is, at the very least, a mega-whopping perceived conflict of interest, especially since Mr. Trasolini was elected chair of the Evergreen Line's Communications Committee in March 2006 which just happens to be, coincidentally(?), two months before he started trying to sell the property.

In defending his actions Mr. Trasolini said this to Mr. Holman's Public Eye:

On Monday, Mr. Trasolini also said the property didn’t put him in a perceived conflict because, "If you read the definition of conflict, it's if I make a decision that's only for me. And, in fact, (supporting the Evergreen Line) doesn't. It benefits the whole northeast sector."


We would likely to humbly suggest that that is one ethically-challenged public official.

Luckily, when they were informed of the situation by Mr. Holman, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority swung into action and has decided to convene a special meeting in which the perception of conflict of interest will be addressed. Chair of the Authority, Malcom Brodie, told Holman that:

(The) recommended measures "will include the exclusion of Director Trasolini from future board discussions and decisions relating to the (proposed) Evergreen Line project."

Which is as it should be.

We do wonder, however, if the Directors of the coming Fiefdom........errrrr..... appointed (not elected) TransLink Board will be held to such account when there are invevitably perceived conflicts given that the members will be, according to Minister Falcon himself, business people with the 'skill set' to run the operation including, presumably, the new fangled real estate portion (ie. these very fine folks will be players in the big business game).

Or will the Board of the Fiefdom be shielded from such ridiculously restrictive regulatory rulings (ie. public accountability) as is, say, oh, I dunno, the Board of Directors of another LotusLandia transportation asset, that the public no longer controls, which runs on water rather than solid ground?


Mr. Trasolini responds: Asked why he didn't excuse himself from TransLink discussions for pecuniary interests, Trasolini said there was never any direct talk about acquisition of or near his land. "There's nothing that happened that specifically affects me," he said.
Oh, and just for the record, according to the local Tri-City News, Mr. Trasolini's property is currently assessed at approximately $3.5 million.


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