Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuesday Night's Conflict of Interest: Car Wash Bill Sponsor Burch Received $1,000 from Car Wash Developer

According to financial disclosure statements on file at the Electoral Commission, the only public proponent of the Car Wash Exemption Bill to rise and speak at the January 2, 2007 Public Hearing on the ordinance contributed $1,000 in July 2007 to the re-election campaign of District 13 Member Carl Burch.

Mr. Burch reportedly will re-introduce the controversial bill on third and final reading Tuesday night, in spite of strong neighborhood opposition to it. The $1,000 contributor, Joe Meeks, told the Metro Council in January (start media counter at 1:00) that he owns land on Murfreesboro Road with the intent of developing a car wash.

Also, according to the disclosure files, a real estate professional whose name has been associated with car wash development, John Hobbs, contributed $300 in July 2007 to the Diane Neighbors campaign and he contributed $500 the same month to the J.B. Loring campaign. Both Ms. Neighbors and Mr. Loring are Car Wash Exemption Bill co-sponsors.

Is the re-introduction of the Car Wash Bill payback for the $1,000 campaign contribution? It sure looks like a conflict of interest to me. And the mere appearance of a conflict of interest seems one more reason to oppose this bill.

UPDATE: Here we on are the day of the third reading on this bill and has there been any attempt by the local mainstream beat writers to check the campaign contributions of the co-sponsors? Not so that I could tell. They're giving "beat" a whole new meaning. If the print editors want to question bloggers again for challenging their system, I'd point them in the direction of the total lack of attention to possible connections between campaign financing and council resolutions. Just because they don't cover it doesn't mean that the conflict of interest does not exist or is not important.

UPDATE: The mainstream media blogs ain't doing much better. These alternatives look lame on this issue.

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