CSD candidate says he'll remove himself from deliberations about deputies
Steven Mobley, a Sacramento County sheriff’s sergeant and a candidate for the Community Services District board, said Tuesday night he will recuse himself from CSD issues surrounding the use of sheriff’s deputies in Murieta if he’s elected.
“I understand conflict of interest.... A conflict of interest is not something I have,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I have this archaic thing called a ‘remote interest,’ which surprises the heck out of a lot of people, myself included....”
The question of a potential conflict of interest was raised in a forum post late Monday by neighbor Lisa Taylor, who has challenged the current Security operation and pushed the CSD to give the department broader powers. Her husband is Security Sgt. Jim Bieg.
Mobley said Taylor is the one with the conflict of interest. “She’s married to the Security guard sergeant, who is a very nice guy. However, her conflict doesn’t really count because she’s not running for anything," Mobley said. "She has a direct conflict. I have a ‘remote interest.’ Because she’s not running, it doesn’t mean anything.”
The issue came up at Monday night’s “Candidates Night” meeting. Reading a question from the audience, moderator Marion Cravens asked Mobley whether he has a conflict of interest.
“I have nothing to gain personally, financially by being a board member on the CSD as it relates to my employment with the sheriff’s department,” he replied, concluding, “I have no other conflicts.”
CSD candidate Steven Mobley, right, and Security Chief Greg Remson talk with neighbor Jim Villa following Monday night's "Candidates Night" meeting.
Taylor posted her thoughts in the forum at 11 p.m., which Mobley disputed in his own post 45 minutes later.
Taylor pointed to the 2004-05 Sacramento County Grand Jury report, which criticized Elk Grove council members for voting on contracts involving the sheriff’s department when the council members were employed by the department.
Mobley disagreed, arguing no contract exists between the CSD and sheriff’s department and that Rancho Murieta is not a city like Elk Grove.
When asked by RanchoMurieta.com, the CSD on Tuesday released a copy of a 2005 agreement it reached with the sheriff’s department for staffing by off-duty deputies. The document, signed by both parties and approved by the county Board of Supervisors, updated an agreement from 1995.
In the phone interview, Mobley said the document is a memo of understanding, not a contract, signed by the previous sheriff and is no longer valid.
Mobley said he went to the sheriff’s legal affairs department Tuesday for a reading on the situation.
“What I have is a remote interest that would preclude me from voting on anything to do with a sheriff’s department contract....” Mobley said.
“So yes, I would be precluded from participating in discussions, encouraging, discouraging, et cetera, et cetera, anything to do with the hiring of, expansion, discontinue of service with regards to anything with the sheriff’s department as it relates to off-duty hiring.”
Later in the 20-minute conversation, in which he described himself as “more frustrated than angry,” Mobley said, “I have no financial gain. I don’t hide (anything) from anybody. I’m not getting a dime out of this. I don’t represent the sheriff. He’s not paying me to run. I’m a homeowner. And I feel the government, this government code section, has stymied me....
“If I get elected to this position, I won’t be able to vote on any of the security matters as it relates to hiring off-duty deputies to protect my own home. I’m a little frustrated with that right now.”
The grand jury report says the law is designed “to remove or limit the possibility of any personal influence, either directly or indirectly, which might bear on an official’s decision...” and to “not only to strike at actual impropriety, but also to strike at the appearance of impropriety.”
The report says in 2004, then-Sheriff Lou Blanas directed the two department employees who were officials in Elk Grove that they must obey the law, “which makes it a felony for you to participate in any way in [Elk Grove] council decisions affecting that city’s arrangement for law enforcement services.” Blanas’ directive adds, “This prohibition extends to discussion of operational issues, including traffic enforcement, law enforcement funding, selection or removal of the chief of police, memorandums of agreement between the Sheriff’s Department and the city, and proposal for any adjustment in the level of law enforcement services to be provided."
Had he known about this limit on his involvement, Mobley said, he might not have run. But he said he will stay in this race.
“I’m gonna run,” he said. “And if I have to recuse myself, so be it.... There’s other issues out there, it’s not the only issue, it’s just the one I was most concerned about. It’s also the one where I had the most to offer.”
I’m proud of you steve. Your integrity and willingness to serve this community is both refreshing and appreciated. You are exactly who we need as a CSD director for the difficult days ahead.
Thank you Steve for your honesty and integrity. I am reassured now more than ever that my decision to vote for you is the right one.
-- Vote for Steven Mobley for CSD BOD - http://www.stevenmobley.org/
The government code as enacted was a reasonable method to restrict members of local police and fire agencies from running for the governing boards and then setting the terms and condidtions for their own employment including pay and benefits. What occurred in Elk Grove was an unfortunate travesty for 2 fifths of the citizens of that city, when the persons that they elected, in large part because of their public safety backgrounds, were precluded from any discussions of law enforcement in their respective communities.
There was nothing in the discussions with Elk Grove that ever had any remote connection to the employment of either Mayor Cooper nor Councilman Leary, but the law was unfortunately very clear in that instance. While I did suggest a legal challenge, based on the lack of representation issue for the two fiths of the population that elected Cooper and Leary, Mayor Cooper felt it would be too time consuming and disruptive for their city. As a result their expertise and imput was left entirely out of the discussion and the decisions were left to the other three members of the council. Of interesting note, two were removed by the voters in the next election it appears that Sophia Sherman will exit stage left in November.
I do not agree that Mr. Mobley should be precluded from these dicussions if he is elected, but even if he does so volutarily, he would still be a valuable asset to the elected board.