City council member John Thomaides declined this afternoon to talk about a meeting in January 2012 between himself and planning commissioner Carter Morris that drew a rebuke from the San Marcos Ethics Review Commission last month.
Emerging from a 50-minute-long executive session, Thomaides announced that the council had instructed city staff to put an item on the agenda for the council’s meeting next Tuesday that would remove Morris from his planning and zoning commission post if he does not resign before then. Thomaides presided over the meeting as mayor pro tem because Mayor Daniel Guerrero was out of town, Thomaides said.
After the meeting, the Mercury asked Thomaides about the council’s decision and how he plays into it. One of the two infractions that five members of the ethics commission found to be “minor” violations of the ethics code involved a breakfast meeting between Morris and Thomaides.
At the time, developer Darren Casey had five large-lot homes near Sessom Drive under contract to buy, the setting for what he envisioned as a 1,000-bed luxury apartment complex with 20,000 square feet of retail space. Morris represented both Casey as the buyer and the home owners as the sellers.
While Morris recused himself from planning and zoning commission votes on the project, he met with Thomaides and most other council members to talk about Casey’s project as well as speaking in favor of the project at a city council public hearing.
Thomaides eventually voted against the project both times it came before the San Marcos City Council.
Here is audio of the exchange followed by a transcript. (Audio quality is uneven).
Thomaides: What was your question?
Mercury: About the removal of the P&Z commissioner. Was that [decision] based on the Ethics Review Commission ruling on the subject?
Thomaides: Well, we discussed it. We had a thorough discussion about all aspects of it and the outcome of the discussion was, I had mentioned in the [meeting], from the council was to take this action and put it on the agenda for a possible removal if the resignation does not occur. … It’s really just a byproduct of the whole discussion that the council had.
Mercury: Since one of the infractions that the Ethics Commission identified involved a meeting with you, where do you stand in this? Do you think you did anything unethically in having that meeting?
Thomaides: We didn’t — that — that [laughs] That wasn’t really the discussion.
Mercury: Sure. But I’m just asking. You didn’t call me back. That was one of the things I was going to ask you on the phone. Since the Ethics Commission determined that meeting was improper and you were one of the people in that meeting, do you think you did anything improper?
Thomaides: If you want to talk about this agenda item, I’d be happy to talk to you about this —
Mercury: — So you’re not going to answer the question?
Thomaides: If you want to talk about something else, Brad, I’ll talk to about it at another time. But that’s not really part of what this is.Email | Print