Friday, March 20, 2009

Oakley council member fined for gift received in 2005

An Oakley council member has been fined by a state agency for basketball tickets he received nearly four years ago.

Councilman Kevin Romick was fined $390 by the Fair Political Practices Commission for accepting tickets to a Golden State Warriors game in 2005 from developer KB Homes after it installed refurbished basketball courts at Oakley School.

Romick said he, his wife and two daughters were given tickets to the game by the developer, which was recognized during halftime. Councilwoman Pat Anderson was also given tickets to the game, which was City of Oakley night.

On a statement of economic interest form filed in 2006, Romick indicated the total value of the tickets was $480, but in 2005, gifts were not to exceed $360 (the limit is now $420). Anderson also filed an SEI form in 2006, which showed three tickets valued at $120 each.

Romick paid the fine the day it was issued on Feb. 19. He said he sought counsel on the legality of accepting the tickets in 2005, but he couldn't make a case for himself to the commission because he didn't have any proof.

"I'm sure there was a reason why we thought this all was OK, but you just to have to hang on to all of your e-mails and information for the future," Romick said. "There's nothing that I can say but I screwed up. I know I talked to legal staff, and something they said probably led me to believe it was OK, but it was all verbal communication."

Commission Executive Director AdvertisementRoman Porter said the fine came now as a result of a new commissioner wanting to clean up cases from the past. Porter said the commission focused on gifts, travel and honorarium pay, which prompted it to look through statements of economic interest.

"The commission receives a large number of complaints each year," Porter said, "but for whatever reasons, some cases continue to stay with us. Having to prioritize cases has sometimes led to having a number of cases that are older than we would like."

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