Position on two boards examined

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Since the appointment of Steven Morgan to the Ridgecrest City Council (see related story, this page) residents have raised the question of whether that poses any conflict with his present service on the IWV Airport District Board of Directors.

The office of the state Attorney General outlines pertinent guidelines in the Doctrine of Incompati-ble Offices, which is defined as a potential clash of two public offices held by a single person.

These conflicts are typically when one board has budgetary or regulatory power over the other and when the offices exercise authority over the same geographical area.

The CEO of the airport and the city attorney both responded to News Review inquiries that they believe no incompatibility exists.

City Attorney Keith Lemieux said that Scott Nave, who works in his office and represents the airport board, is working on a formal analysis.

“But the early analysis is that there are not decisions being made by one of the boards that would materially or adversely impact the other entity,” said Lemieux. He said that a classic example of incompatibility would be a school board member serving also on the board of a water district that sold water to the school district.

“In that case, one of the boards is setting rates that impacts the other board’s bottom line.”

Among the questions raised was Morgan’s concept of having the city partner with the airport board in support of the Cal UAS Portal team. Lemieux declined to offer an opinion on that specific matter.

He also noted that determining incompatibility is a civil issue. “Anyone could come forward and make a claim, but it would be determined in court, which could go either way. And the only remedy is that the officer is automatically resigned from the older office upon being promoted to the new one.

“So in this case, if those offices were determined to be incompatible, Morgan would be automatically resigned from the airport board.”

Story First Published: 2013-09-18