There's at least a 50% chance that Wes Perry may be elected mayor of Midland, Texas, on 11/6/07. And he has already put us on notice at his website that he and his companies own a substantial interest in downtown real estate. So if we vote him into office it's going to be hard to complain if/when he wants to use our tax dollars to add value to his property.
He allegedly sought advice from the city attorney about whether some of his past votes as a city council member would have put him in a conflict of interest situation. But there's an easy out. Here's an item the city attorney may have scrutinized before giving him the pass. It's the Texas Attorney General's 2006 Texas Conflicts of Interest Laws Made Easy (pdf). Excerpt:
11. What is the test for conflict of interest regarding real property?
State law provides a two-part test for ascertaining whether a local official has a conflict of interest regarding real property that would prevent the official from participating on that item.28 To determine whether a conflict exists that would prevent that official’s participation, one should follow the following two-step analysis
1) Step One (Substantial Interest Analysis): First, the official must determine if the official has a $2,500 or more legal or equitable interest in real property that would be affected by the local entity’s action. If the official has such an interest or a close relative of the official has such an interest,29 the official must consider the second part of the test for determining if a conflict of interest exists.
2) Step Two (Special Economic Effect Analysis): The official must determine whether the action that the local unit is considering would have a special economic effect on the value of the property that is distinguishable from its general effect on the public.30 If it is determined that the official has a substantial interest in the real property and it is likely that the action would have a special economic effect that is distinguishable from its effect on the general public,31 a conflict of interest would exist. If a conflict of interest exists, the official is prevented from discussing or voting on an issue involving that business entity.32
The fact that an action would affect property close to an official’s own property does not in itself establish a conflict of interest that would prevent an official from voting on that item. The official must consider whether the proposed governmental action would have a special economic effect on the value of her own property that is distinguishable from its effect on the general public.33 For example, if a zoning, variance or platting request would have a special economic effect on a city official’s own property or the real property of a close relative of the official, the official could not participate in the discussion or vote on that matter.
So here's the bumper sticker:
"It is unlikely that my action would have a special economic effect that is distinguishable from its effect on the general public."