The recent McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee meeting saw a heated exchange between Planning Commissioner and McMAC member Ben Shepherd and a community member after conflict of interest allegations were lobbed at Shepherd.
None other than would-be Supervisor Sungnome Madrone was on hand to personally level the accusation of a conflict of interest at Shepherd.
Centering around Shepherd’s sale of a property that was permitted for cannabis farming, the Madrone’s accusation alleges that Shepherd benefited financially from a cannabis ordinance that he helped create as a Planning Commissioner. According to folks at the McMAC meeting, Madrone did indeed lodge a complaint with the FPPC, who should be looking into Shepherd’s activities in the near future.
Shepherd, in the fashion we’ve come to expect from many of Humboldt’s politicians, kept things professional – meaning that he threw a hissy fit and tried to walk out of a meeting still in session. If only Madrone had given everyone a heads up, we would have showed up with some popcorn.
Even Shepherd’s colleagues on the McMAC board were surprised at how childish Shepherd’s reaction was, considering that Shepherd not only tried to walk out of the meeting without following proper procedures, but also tried to silence Madrone speaking on a different topic. Which is a big no-no, and kind of fascist, if you ask us.
To be fair, Shepherd called out Madrone for attempting to raise his profile for his upcoming Supervisorial bid, which will pit him against Ryan Sundberg, the person who appointed close friend Shepherd to the Planning Commission in the first place. Come to think of it, we have seen a lot more of Madrone at public meetings over the last few months.
But the heart of the problem is this – does Shepherd actually have a conflict of interest relating to the sale of his cannabis-permitted property? From a logical standpoint, heck yeah he does!
From a legal standpoint, however, he’s probably in the clear. As we all know, logic and legality don’t always mesh.
The real conflict of interest, in THC’s opinion, stems from the fact that Shepherd serves on both the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the McMAC. His participation on issues at the McMAC, which he also often hears about,
So, Sugnome, if you’re out there – an FPPC complaint should focus on that issue, rather than Shepherd taking advantage of a lucrative cannabis property opportunity that affects all property equally.
If you’re interested in more about the actual sale of Shepherd’s property, check out this bit of THC goodness from over a year ago. (We’re expecting a “thank you” sixer of Mike’s Hard from Madrone for providing him the talking points.)