November 9, 2011
Esteemed members of the Redistricting Commission:
Two weeks ago, you unanimously appointed Mr. Andrew Westall as your Executive Director, which will be your top post, as you engage in the challenge to redraw the district lines for our city.
During your evaluation of Mr. Westall, I’m told you all explored the possibility of a conflict of interest between Mr. Westall’s role as an aide to Councilmember Herb Wesson and his role as your Executive Director, if he was selected.
In addition to the discussions that took place on this issue at the commission level, Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, informed his appointee Ms. Tunua Thrash previous to the appointment, that city employees would not be desirable candidates because of the real or perceived advantages it could create for their favored districts.
Councilmember Parks has been consistent in this belief. He supported Commissioner Helen Kim’s motion that would not allow City Hall staffers to be considered for the commission.
But, despite those concerns expressed by Councilmember Parks and others, you voted to appoint Mr. Westall to the position of Executive Director. It was Councilmember Parks’ highest of hopes that you would view the very obvious conflict of interest as a non-starter and choose someone else for this crucial position.
As it turns out, Mr. Westall’s affiliation with CD 10 is not the only conflict in question. Just today, news surfaced that Councilmember Parks is involved in litigation in which Mr. Westall is a key witness for the competing side. Furthermore, a witness has come forward and raised questions about Mr. Westall’s testimony in the matter.
Those circumstances alone would call for a recusal in any similar matter concerning a City Council Meeting or Committee Meeting. And, it should certainly be the same for this process as well. After all, it would be unfair to the residents of the Eighth District to have their new boundary lines affected by someone who is in the middle of a legal dispute with the person they recently re-elected to represent them.
Additionally, there is some question as to whether or not the details of this litigation were disclosed to you as you prepared to make your decision. Commissioner Thrash informed our office that she had not been made aware of the litigation during the selection process. And after further investigation, your Commission President Arturo Vargas and the Ethics Commission also say they had no knowledge.
With the world hitting seven billion in population in the last week and unemployment at
an all-time high, certainlywe can find someone who isn’t involved in litigation with the Councilmember.
Councilmember Parks is asking this commission to consider this latest conflict before making a final decision.
Bernard C. Parks, Jr.
Chief of Staff
BERNARD C. PARKS