Second panel member resigns

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Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

A second member of the Community Services Commission has resigned because of worries about the conflict-of-interest measure passed by Claremont voters last month.

Commissioner Joan Overturf submitted a letter of resignation to city officials Friday, joining former Commissioner John Seery as those who have left the panel because of Measure A. Seery resigned March 29, the day before the law was scheduled to take effect.

Measure A, passed by 55 percent of Claremont’s voters March 6, makes it illegal for some city officials to take money or jobs from people or organizations benefiting from the officials’ decisions. Proponents say the law will prevent kickbacks, while opponents say Measure A makes it difficult to conduct business in Claremont while serving on a commission.

Overturf could not be reached for comment Monday, but Community Services Director Betty Sheldon said Overturf – a psychologist – was worried Measure A would conflict with doctor-patient confidentiality rules. No further explanation was available Monday.

“It was a little complicated,” Sheldon said. “She was concerned enough to resign.”

Supporters of the conflict-of-interest law scoffed at the need for Overturf’s resignation, saying the Community Services Commission would not be affected by Measure A because the panel is not allowed to award contracts.

Such resignations are just breeding fear of a needed law, said Paul Herzog, a spokesman for the Santa Monica-based Oaks Project. The organization proposed the initiative last year in Claremont and five other California cities. Voters passed the law in five of the six cities.

“This would apply to very few city commissions,” Herzog said. “I don’t understand why someone is resigning when the thing has only been in effect for about two weeks.”

City officials and Measure A supporters have sparred about the possible effects of the law at several meetings in the past year. Claremont officials say the initiative is vague and does not specify which people are affected by the law, while proponents say only the Planning Commission, City Council and certain appointed officials are covered under the measure.

The City Council has said it will file a lawsuit seeking a judge’s opinion on the law, but nothing had been filed as of Monday.

A letter sent to City Hall by the Oaks Project on Monday chastised the city for failing to implement Measure A on time.

“The City Council’s opposition to this measure should in no way impede the implementation of Prop A’s provisions,” the letter stated. “As public representatives, you are obligated to implement Prop A.”

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