Council members' 'Form 700' documents reviewed

Newport Beach Mayor Mike Henn disclosed the basics of his financial connections to Lido Village in the state Fair Political Practices Commission's annual statement of economic interests: the "Form 700" document, which public officials are required to file.

The Daily Pilot also reviewed the other Newport Beach council members' 2010 forms and contacted each official for comment. Their statements cover income, business dealings in Newport Beach, their spouses' dealings inside city limits, financial investments, loans and gifts.

Keith Curry reported the largest gifts on the council during 2010, a year he served as mayor, which is a largely ceremonial role that rotates among council members. Curry received passes from local and international organizations, including the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce ($270) for the Taste of Newport, from the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel ($150) for its summertime jazz festival, and from the Daily Pilot's parent company, Times Community News, which gave him $50 in tickets to the Toshiba Classic golf tournament.

In total, Curry garnered about $3,300 worth of gifts, all within legal limits. It was less than the $5,400 he reported in 2009. The largest single item in 2010 was $1,114 paid by Antibes, France — Newport's sister city — for a summer trip.

Leslie Daigle disclosed that she consults for Verizon Wireless and other telecommunication firms that occasionally have business before the City Council. In 2006, two years after she was appointed to the council, she voted to approve a Sprint PCS facility. Daigle said that she had no economic relationship with Sprint at the time, and has since decided to recuse herself from all discussions or votes on antennas, cell towers or other wireless infrastructure applications.

Nancy Gardner owned stock in nine companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., whose subsidiary owns some of Banning Ranch in West Newport. The ranch is a roughly 400-acre property that may be developed. Gardner said she was not aware of her Exxon stock, as she lets her family's stockbroker make all investment decisions. She said she was not aware that the company owned part of Banning Ranch, despite conservationists and groups that have invoked Exxon's name as an environmentalist rallying cry. Gardner has been active in environmental causes, and followed Banning Ranch closely.

Exxon Mobil's subsidiary, Aera Energy, and two other companies formed a partnership to develop Banning Ranch into a 400-acre master-planned community with up to 1,400 residences, retail stores and a hotel.

After consulting with City Attorney David Hunt, Gardner said she was unclear if there was a conflict of interest, but decided to sell her Exxon shares anyway. Gardner owned between $10,000 and $100,000 worth of the company, according to her disclosure form.

Rush Hill also owned shares of Exxon Mobil in 2010, according to his form, and has decided to hold onto them while Hunt researches his potential conflict. Like Gardner, Hill said he was unaware that he owned the company's stock; the shares are held by his family's trust. The trust owns about $67,000 in shares, and Hill said he would have to pay a large amount of taxes if he were to sell them now. He said he prefers to pass the stock onto his children, and would recuse himself from Banning Ranch discussions and votes, instead of selling the stock, if Hunt deems the stock ownership a conflict of interest.

To determine a conflict, Hunt said he would analyze how much the city's actions could affect Exxon Mobil. One threshold is $10 million, but Hunt said he didn't yet know if that standard applied to Hill's situation.

Besides stock, Hill owns a mixed-use office and retail building near the Newport Pier; two homes that he rents in the city; and has a small-partnership interest in a self-storage facility off Jamboree Road. He and the other council members are restricted from voting or participating in discussions that could affect the value of real estate they own. The FPPC sets a 500-foot boundary around officials' property, and any real estate matters in that radius might be considered a conflict of interest.

Steve Rosansky sometimes recuses himself when matters could affect the value of homes he rents in Newport Shores. He owns three homes there, in addition to his residence. Besides property, Rosansky reported that he owns a residential real estate brokerage in Newport and a restaurant in Santa Ana.

Ed Selich also has connections to businesses outside of Newport Beach, but doesn't need to report them because the FPPC regulations say officials are required to only report dealings within their jurisdiction. Selich said he "purposely set up my job and my investments so I have no conflicts in Newport Beach and I don't have to worry about anything."

An exception that Selich invoked relates to the income of his wife, Lynne. She runs a magazine, newspaper and public relations firm — all based in Newport.

Selich said that he doesn't have to report Lynne's business-related income on his Form 700 because it's not community property; the FPPC provides that exception.

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