Councilwoman Elizabeth Schneider won’t be representing the city on the board of a new public charity foundation.
Schneider withdrew her request to be appointed the city’s representative to the board of the new foundation when council members expressed concern about possible conflicts and lack of information. Founders of the public charity foundation had asked Schneider to represent the city and South Coast Medical Center, where she is employed, which Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly found a little too cozy,
“It just doesn’t have a good look about it,” Egly said. “I love her to death, but I can’t support this.”
Schneider said she had consulted with City Attorney Philip Kohn before submitting the request for the appointment and he had cleared it because foundation board members would not be paid.
The foundation is being formed by Daniel and Francine Scinto, friends of Schneider’s.
“They have decided they don’t want to die rich,” Schneider said. “They are moving to Laguna Beach and they want to donate to the Laguna Beach Seniors [which Schneider champions], the medical center and the city.
“In order to do that, they need representatives from the organizations they want to donate to,” Schneider told the council. “The organizations have to agree to accept the money and must appoint a representative.”
Schneider stepped down from the dais — and left the council chambers — while the council discussed her request.
Kohn said he didn’t know if the law required beneficiaries to be represented on foundation boards, but offered to research it.
Council members do serve on the boards of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Festival of Arts, albeit without voting privileges.
“The difference is those organizations take money from us, this one proposes to give us money,” City Manager Ken Frank said.
Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman said more information was needed about the foundation.
“It would be prudent to have the actual articles of incorporation and the IRS documentation and have Phil [Kohn] give his blessings,” Kinsman said.
Kinsman moved to continue the request to a hearing in November, but Schneider — who was out of the room but listening in on the proceedings — popped her head into the council chambers and broke in on the discussion, informing the council the appointment had to be made by the end of the month.
Egly responded that she was opposed to accepting a deadline set on the council by an outside entity, saying she saw it as an example of the potential for future conflicts.
Schneider then returned to the dais to take her request off the table, to which Kinsman vigorously objected.
The two longtime allies got into a “You can’t — Yes, I can” exchange, ended when Kohn said Schneider had the right to bow out.
A telecast of the council meeting will be re-aired on Cox Cable Channel 30 at 7 p.m. Saturday.