Group asks for Fraser rec board member’s resignation
July 10, 2008
A citizen’s group is calling for the resignation of a Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District board member for her alleged conflict of interest.
On Thursday, through its attorney Mark Rudis, the group asked Elizabeth Sands to resign from the recreation district’s board.
“In her place, I suggest that Kevin Davlin be appointed. As the candidate that was tied (in the election) with John Kacik. I feel he is a logical and fair choice for this position,” Rudis’ letter says.
The group claims she has a conflict of interest because she is employed by Cornerstone Holdings LLC, the developer of Grand Park that plans to donate land for the recreation center.
Sands has denied any conflict of interest in previous interviews with the newspaper, but did not want to comment for this story until she had spoken to the recreation district’s attorney Owen Oliver.
The request for Sands’ resignation was made by Rudis in a letter, written as part of continuing correspondence between himself and Oliver. On Tuesday, Oliver sent documents to Rudis, answering a July 2 letter that demanded the board of directors disclose any “direct conflicts of interest” between their decisions about the recreation center and “their personal financial interests.”
The Sky-Hi Daily News contacted Oliver for comment Thursday, but Oliver had not yet seen the letter. (Rudis’ letter was e-mailed to the newspaper office Thursday morning.)
In documents provided by the FVMRD directors on Tuesday, all five of them, including Sands, denied any substantial conflict of interest involving their duties as directors and the building of the proposed recreation center and in a retail portion of the Grand Park development.
However, in his letter, Rudis interpreted Sands’ response differently.
He wrote, “Elizabeth Sands has responded to standard 6 (Note: dealing with actual or potential conflicts of interest) by admitting that she is currently an employee of Cornerstone Holdings LLC (Grand Park). By answering this question, she has in her own words freely admitted that she indeed has a conflict of interest regarding the decisions that are being made by the FVMRD and her employer Cornerstone Holdings LLC.”
Also in his letter, Rudis wrote that Sands had shown conflicts of interest because she had participated in board meetings where the recreation center was discussed and had spoken during a public forum about the center.
“She has been privy to the negotiations between the board and Cornerstone Holdings,” Rudis stated. “She has knowledge on both sides about location, design, naming, and other factors necessary for the proposed building. She knows which points are negotiable and which are not in these negotiations with her employer. Her paycheck comes from Grand Park for these services. She has not excused herself from any of these meetings nor has this board requested that she do so.
“Elizabeth Sands is in both huddles in the game.”
For her part, Sands admitted both in the documents and in an interview last week with the Sky-Hi Daily News that she is an employee of Cornerstone Holdings LLC, whose president is Clark Lipscomb, the developer of Grand Park.
However, she contends that is not a conflict of interest because she works in Cornerstone’s real estate department and has no involvement with its developments.
She also said she had recused herself from any of the district board’s decisions involving Grand Park.
The accusations of conflicts of interest have arisen as part of the ongoing controversy over the proposed FVMRD recreation center. Its construction was part of a $19.5 million bond approved by district voters during last November’s election.
Part of the controversy involves the recreation center being built on five acres of land donated by the Grand Park development. Residents objected when it was learned that Lipscomb had not yet deeded the land to the district and was asking that the center be named after Grand Park.