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Mailbag: Catalytic converter thefts can be stemmed with simple procedure

Police etch a vehicle identification number onto a car's catalytic converter.
Los Angeles Police Det. Mario Santana, helped by Det. Lisa Nguyen, etches a vehicle identification number onto a car’s catalytic converter as a preventive measure against theft on Silver Lake Boulevard in Los Angeles in April.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In Fountain Valley many of us had the opportunity to get our license plate etched on our catalytic converters to reduce thefts.

The thieves are less apt to steal if the merchandise can be traced to its owner!

This was a one-day event with many participants, and we were half an hour early and No. 16 on the list!

Tom Kent
Fountain Valley

Addressing ‘conflict of interest’ issue

One does not need to be an attorney to understand “conflict of interest,” particularly in city government. The interests of the city are determined through a political policy-making process. This is a power given exclusively to the City Council by the citizens of Huntington Beach in our charter.

Everyone working in city governance is required to disclose their personal interests. Under rules set by the city council (again, as specified in the charter), the mere existence of other interests requires the person in question to step back from implementing a particular policy question. “Conflict of interest” is by definition avoided when there is only a single set of interests at stake. “Recusal” is the usual term for this, and a recusal can be voluntary or compelled by order of the City Council.

The logic and intent of the charter is clear: The work done on behalf of the city must be motivated by the singular, unitary interest of the city as determined in an agendized open meeting of the council with a public vote carrying majority support of the council.

In turning the nonpolitical, ministerial position of city attorney into a nakedly partisan and political engine, Michael Gates has not violated the charter or any other law as far as I can tell. But in stepping over the line of custom and norm and by proclaiming his own personal partisan political interests as equal to those set forth by the City Council, Mr. Gates can either voluntarily recuse himself from his duties, or he can face the disgrace of the city hiring outside attorneys who have no political hay to make, and who can operate independent of his political and partisan interests.

No matter how the proposed charter amendments are finalized, and no matter how we, the voters in Huntington Beach, decide the issue, Mr. Gates can either operate under flagrant conflicts of interest, or he can recuse himself from virtually every duty for which he had been elected and for which he draws a six-figure salary from our taxes.

Galen Pickett
Huntington Beach

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