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Grocott addresses alleged ethics violations

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
May 10, 2005

San Carlos Vice Mayor Matt Grocott last night responded to recent allegations questioning his ethics and spoke harshly against City Manager Michael Garvey.

In recent days, local newspapers have reported that Grocott did not report his $10,000 stake in Varian Medical, which once co-owned the site at 301 Industrial Road where the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) has proposed building a new hospital. In addition, it has been alleged that Grocott has moved outside San Carlos to an apartment in Woodside.

At last night’s City Council meeting, Grocott said he disclosed those and other holdings when he joined the San Mateo County Library Joint Powers Authority. He believed that he did not need to restate them for the City Council, because the law states that filing a disclosure with an agency that has a larger jurisdiction is sufficient.

“My thinking was that I had covered my bases,” Grocott told the council and public. “If the city attorney wishes me to fill out another form, I am prepared to do that.”

Grocott denied statements made by Garvey that he had said he would obtain a written statement from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) clearing him of any conflict of interest, or that he would share such a statement with Garvey. Grocott said he had called the FPPC hotline and received verbal confirmation that he was in the clear.

He also denied Garvey’s statement that the conflict-of-interest rumors may have been started by someone involved with the PAMF project, saying he did not think anyone in the organization knew he owned Varian stock.

Grocott then tackled rumors that he has been living outside San Carlos city limits since he and his wife, Dina, separated in November. He stated that he maintains his address at the home he shared with her, and is renting an apartment in town.

Grocott closed his report with strident words for the City Manager. “Michael Garvey is not my boss. I don’t take direction from him.”

Resident Pat Bell said Grocott’s statements did nothing to assuage her suspicions. She told the council it has an obligation to conduct a thorough investigation, saying they are the only agency Grocott will respect.

“If it is the responsibility of council members to avoid the appearance of impropriety, he has violated that,” Bell said. “He won’t answer to Garvey and he won’t answer to the press.”

Clint Miller, a member of Trust & Accountability in San Carlos, however, objected to the attacks on Grocott and accused the City Council of acting divisively. He asked Garvey whether he directed City Clerk Christine Boland to tally any 3-2 votes taken since November in which Grocott had been in the majority. Garvey said that he had, and that she did not find any.

“That your behavior was precipitated on the evidence of an article … strikes me as very odd and unprofessional,” Miller told Garvey. “The council made no effort to talk to Grocott and find out what the truth was. This is a lynch mob.”

Garvey said the tally only took a few minutes, and said he would do what it took to protect the city and its taxpayers.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

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Written by Beth Winegarner

May 10, 2005 at 9:08 PM

Posted in Politics, San Carlos

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