At the 2/14/17 CUSD Board meeting, Anjali Kausar experienced a melt-down from the community’s challenge to her reported conflicts of interest. The following day, a community member sent the email below to Ms. Kausar in an attempt to help with the situation. It appears from Ms. Kausar’s response that she has no interest in resolving the matter expeditiously, which certainly is in the best interest of CUSD students and schools.
To: Anjali Kausar <email@example.com>
Cc: Vogel Phyllis <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Kristen Lyn <email@example.com>; Soma McCandless <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 10:12 AM
Subject: Conflict of Interest
Dear Ms. Kausar:
I’m writing because you seemed genuine in wanting to do the right thing re: financial disclosures and conflict of interest. I wanted to follow-up on a few points made during the meeting.
1) I suggested that you ask the FPPC for informal assistance. Conflict of interest laws are very complicated and nuanced, and the FPPC will provide an advice letter. Rod Sinks from City Council did the same when faced with ethical questions about his interest in Apple, Inc. I found the FPPC’s response to his questions to be very informative, along with the media coverage:
2) You may not believe that your Chamber of Commerce position conflicts with your Board position. The FPPC and/or DA will decide in due time. In my research I found Chris Canning’s case (Exec Dir Calistoga CoC and Mayor) to be relevant. Here are links to a media article and his stipulation with the FPPC.
3) Regarding decisions pertaining to Apple, Inc., you said that you do not recall any contracts which you participated in. On September 8, 2015, CUSD Board approved the purchase of laptop computers from Apple, Inc. in the amount of $1,243,200 from the consent calendar. You “seconded” the motion to approve the contract. But that’s beside the point because the statute defines “participation” very broadly:
“Government Code §1090 forbids financially interested public officials from any participation in the making of a contract, including preliminary discussions, negotiations, compromises, reasoning, planning, drawing of plans and specifications, and solicitations for bids and subsequent modifications to a contract and “follow-on” contracts. A disqualified official must not be present when the governmental decision on which he or she is disqualified is considered, and the official must not obtain or review any nonpublic information about the governmental decision, including participation during a closed session of the agency. (Govt C §87105)”
4) You said an attorney has cleared you of any conflict. I’m not aware of any legal opinion other than DWK’s public response to the petition. That’s beside the point, however, because reliance on the advice of an attorney is not a valid defense as enumerated in statute and case law. Please refer to Govt C §1097; People v Chacon (2007) 40 C4th 558, 570; People v Honig (1996) 48 CA4th 289, 347.
I hope this information is helpful. Now that you’ve amended your financial disclosures, you can take proactive steps to obtain answers to your remaining questions. It’s in everyone’s best interest to reach judgment quickly on whether any of your financial interests pose a conflict, so that you can recuse yourself accordingly. It would be most unfortunate if any decisions you’ve made while serving on CUSD Board were ruled invalid due to a conflict of interest.
Anjali Kausar’s response to the email above:
From: Anjali Kausar <email@example.com>
Date: February 16, 2017 at 1:06:47 PM PST
Subject: Re: Conflict of Interest
We appreciate the time you put into sharing this information and it will be taken under advisement as we move forward.
Board of Education
Cupertino Union School District