I believe Yvonne Johnson should have been recused from deliberations and voting on the Civil Rights Museum issue, for the same reasons she should have been recused for Skip's Bessemer Center deal.
A direct financial interest by Yvonne Johnson in the Renaissance Shopping Center Greensboro City Council Vote
From yesterday's legal opinion;
I believe Yvonne voted to enrich Skip Alston and Earl Jones, who she has a financial interest via the Simkins Pac, and Skip and Earl stand to profit from the museum after the debt is paid off via the City of Greensboro's bailout, which Yvonne voted for;
Hello Mr. Hartzman: Below are some of the answers to the questions you have regarding the Civil Rights Museum.
Does the Museum’s Landlord stand to earn income from the property under any scenario?
"Possibly, if their museum tour/ticket sales increase."
"Shah-Khan determined that former mayor and current council member Yvonne Johnson did not have a conflict of interest on the museum vote, which involved fellow Simkins PAC and ICRCM members Alston and Jones. Johnson was listed as a manager on ICRCM documents, before having herself unlisted and then advocating for and voting on the “forgivable” loan.
Shah-Khan’s decision not to recommend that Johnson recuse herself from the Museum vote was striking. After all, Shah-Khan had ruled that former Mayor Robbie Perkins could not vote on a pass through subsidy for Roy Carroll from Guilford County because Perkins owned property (of which he apparently was not paying the mortgage payment) in Carroll’s Centre Pointe building.
If the city can’t get any of the money back, I believe Shah-Khan and some current City Council members may be partly responsible for losing $750,000 of everyone else’s money.
Yvonne should have been excused for belonging to a PAC with Skip Alston which paid Skip's kin and possibly Yvonne's, and for being listed as a manager of one of the Civil Rights Museum's legal entities.
"Mayor and Council:
...What must be considered is if a conflict of interest exists either under N.C.G.S. §§160A-75 or 14-234, or the City of Greensboro’s Charter, or the City’s Conflict of Interest Policy. ...Direct or indirect benefits are considered under the City’s conflict of interest policy and typically involve financial interests for the Councilmember, his or her immediate family, their partner, or an organization which employs or is about to employ the member, family member or partner...
S. Mujeeb Shah-Khan
OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY
What's important here is when Mujeeb states; "What must be considered is if a conflict of interest exists either under N.C.G.S. §§160A-75 or 14-234, or the City of Greensboro’s Charter, or the City’s Conflict of Interest Policy."
Before this letter, Mujeeb only quoted §160A-75 as "What must be considered".
Ethical Responsibilities of the Governing Body of the City of Greensboro
As Yvonne Johnson was listed as a manager of the ICRCM, and is a Simkins PAC member along with Skip Alston, and the PAC endorses City Council candidates, she should have been recused from deliberations and votes on this issue.
Mayor Robbie Perkins, whose 2011 campaign paid $3,000 for the Simkins PAC endorsement, was the honorary chairman of a recent ICRCM/Simkins golf tournament. Mr. Perkins advocated Greensboro taxpayer money be spent to save the museum, which would let some Simkins PAC members retain fiduciary control over the museum’s finances.
"No member shall be excused from voting except upon matters involving the consideration of the member's own financial interest or official conduct or on matters on which the member is prohibited from voting...
In all other cases, a failure to vote by a member who is physically present in the council chamber, or who has withdrawn without being excused by a majority vote of the remaining members present, shall be recorded as an affirmative vote..."
§ 160A‑75. Voting.
"Any officer, department head or employee who has financial interest, direct or indirect, in any proposed contract with the city or in a proposed sale of any land, material, supplies, or services to the city or to a contractor supplying the city, shall make known that interest and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in the making of such contract or sale.
...Violation of this Section with the knowledge expressed or implied of the person or corporation contracting with or making a sale to the city shall render the contract void."
Sec. 4.131. - Conflict of interest: Greensboro Code of Ordinances, City Charter
Compromised Fiduciaries: Conflicts of Interest in Government and Business
"The antithesis of conflicts of interest is the fiduciary principle: government and business actors are agents who are supposed to be acting for their principals, not for their own interests (or the interests of others besides their principals). Agents and principals not infrequently have conflicting interests; the agents have both the ability and the incentive to serve interests other than those of their principals, and they sometimes do so at their principals’ expense.1
Government officials ...have an obligation to deal openly and honestly with other people and to use prudence in dealing with other people’s property.
...When government is involved in bailing out or managing a business, the potential for conflicts is pervasive, and some of the conflicts may be intractable.
Government ethics law and corporate law on fiduciary duty both have as their objective to reinforce the fiduciary principle. Persons trusted with positions of responsibility are fiduciaries, charged with serving the interests of persons to whom they owe fiduciary duties, preferring those interests to any other interests.
Officials in all branches of government owe fiduciary obligations to the public...
Any time a government or corporate official acts (or does not act), he could be seeking to advance interests other than those he is supposed to be advancing. These illegitimate interests include self-interest narrowly construed; they also include interests of others with whom the official may feel personal or professional kinship, such as a former colleague, or someone similarly situated to the official or whose favor the official would like to curry. Some of these interests could be characterized as self-interest broadly construed...
The best counterweight to conflicts of interest is a strong commitment to personal and professional responsibility that empowers a business or government decisionmaker to overcome the motivation to advance interests other than those he is supposed to be advancing. Decisionmakers in business and in government should be firmly committed to principles of ethics, not just to obeying narrowly defined rules.
1. See Kathleen Clark, Do We Have Enough Ethics in Government Yet?
An Answer from Fiduciary Theory, 1996 U. ILL. L. REV. 57, 74 (“Numerous
courts have recognized the fiduciary obligation of government employees, even
in the absence of specific legislative or regulatory endorsements of such duties,
and these courts have imposed fiduciary-like remedies in response to violations
of the conflict and influence components of that obligation.”); see also Exec.
Order No. 12,674 § 101(a), 3 C.F.R. 215 (1990) (“Public service is a public
trust.”), as modified by Exec. Order No. 12,731, 3 C.F.R. 306 (1991) (codified at
5 U.S.C. §§ 7301, 7351, 7353 (2006)).
A Comparison of Hartzman's Yes Weekly Column on the Civil Rights Museum and the News and Record's
Dear Steve Bowden, Chairman of the George C. Simkins Jr. Memorial PAC
Yvonne Johnson, Skip Alston and Robbie's self dealing vote for Skip's $150,000; Simkins PAC and money for family members