Leftovers Column: Ethical standards often out of focus By Jennifer McLain and Tania Chatila, Staff Writers Article Launched: 09/07/2008 11:03:07 PM PDT
The art of adhering to ethical standards is kind of like walking a tightrope. One step to the right or left, and all of a sudden you’ve got a problem.
For politicians, the craft is especially tricky and it’s sometimes hard to tell where that very thin line is crossed.
We learned last week that La Puente City Councilman Dan Holloway’s daughter did some contract work for the city over a five-month period spanning December 2006 to May 2007.
Holloway hadn’t been elected to the council yet. He still was serving a stint on the Planning Commission at the time.
His daughter, Shannon Holloway, was a contracted photographer and took photos at several city events such as the 2006 holiday parade and the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day senior dance.
Records show the younger Holloway charged $50 an hour for the work and made a total of $775 off the city until she was told she no longer could work for La Puente.
The decision came down last spring from City Manager Carol Cowley, who – among other city officials – worried about a perceived conflict of interest.
City policies state no relatives of an officer or employee can work for the city on a full-time basis. Shannon, of course, wasn’t working full-time. She wasn’t even an employee.
“But it was the perception,” according to Cowley.
As of Sunday afternoon, Shannon Holloway still was listing herself as La Puente’s “city photographer” from “12/06-Present” on her MySpace page. It was corrected by nightfall.
The city has been using a new photographer since around last June and records show original CD’s with all of Shannon Holloway’s photos were released back to Dan Holloway in March.
City officials say Shannon made it clear the city no longer could reproduce her work, although some of it is featured in the 2008 La Puente calendar, but only because that specifically was what the work was for.
Councilman John Solis said the issue caused friction between Cowley – who is retiring at the end of this monthafter less than two years as city manager – and Holloway.
“He put up a fight,” Solis said. “He was really upset that (Shannon) couldn’t work for the city (anymore). That’s one of the issues he had with (Cowley).”
Holloway said he really had nothing to do with issue, and it was a former parks and recreation director who knowingly hired Shannon for the work. He also said officials at the state and federal level agreed her contract work technically was not a conflict of interest.
“I was only upset to the point that I asked (Cowley) specifically who had made the complaint to her and it was not forthcoming,” Holloway said.
The entire incident brings up key questions on when and where to draw the line when serving in office – or if a line even exists.
Some argue La Puente is a small town with small-town
politics, so there’s bound to be some harmless crossover.
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