Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to politics in Arroyo Grande. Planning Commissioner John Mack is accused of violating conflict-of-interest laws regarding his vote against the proposed development at Courtland Street and Grand Avenue.
Mack claims no conflict exists. Mack claims the state Fair Political Practices Commission is no longer investigating claims made against him by NKT Commercial developer Nick Tompkins, though the agency stated an investigation is ongoing. Mack claims the city attorney told him he had no conflict because commissioners are supposedly exempt from conflict-of-interest laws. Yet, he couldn’t recall the Aug. 18 email from City Attorney Heather Whitman, specifically stating he has a disqualifying conflict of interest.
On the same day, Mack voted against Tompkins’ development and did not recuse himself.
On Dave Congalton’s Nov. 6 show, Mack insisted his property was at least 1,000 feet from the development, therefore no conflict. Yet, when a caller argued Tompkins’ development would reduce property values in his neighborhood, he agreed.
The controversy is unfortunate but avoidable. There is only one person who could have recused himself or honorably resigned: John Mack.
Mack and the people defending him should feel embarrassed. They are the same people who ousted a mayor and forced a city manager to resign over a sex scandal without evidence. Now that evidence of a conflict involving Mack exists, they refuse to acknowledge it. The underlying irony behind their hollowed pursuit of justice renders their cause illegitimate if not reckless.
Aaron Ochs, Morro Bay