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Mayor Votes, Despite Financial Ties (D. Pilot)

Posted on 04 October 2011 by admin (0)
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

Daily Pilot

Newport Beach Mayor Mike Henn has long championed the revitalization of struggling Lido Village.

He led the city’s efforts to improve the commercial area’s streetscape, redesign streets and parking, and bring more shoppers through its stores. When residents or council members suggested they slow down or focus on other struggling parts of town, such as Mariner’s Mile, Henn insisted that Lido Village remain the top priority.

“It’s good for all the residents of Newport Beach,” Henn said in an interview. “It’s a critical issue to move forward.”

Henn’s council district includes Lido Village — a gateway area to the Balboa Peninsula — so his advocacy to improve the area and please his constituents should come as no surprise. But he is also personally invested in the zone’s success.

As a business consultant, Henn is paid more than $100,000 a year by a shop owner in one of the village’s distressed retail centers, according to disclosure forms he filed with the state.

Conflict-of-interest experts, however, say Henn should have avoided voting on or discussing the issue on the City Council because improving the retail center could directly benefit his client and indirectly help him.

“It’s just too close of a financial connection to participate,” said Bob Stern, president of the L.A.-based Center for Governmental Studies nonprofit and co-author of the state’s Political Reform Act, adding that his point of view should not be considered a legal opinion.

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