Did Manteca Unified Trustee Sam Fant have a conflict of interest when he voted on an agenda item Tuesday night?
The issue in question was the selection of a non-profit organization to offer after-school program services in Weston Ranch. The choice was between the YMCA of San Joaquin County and the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. The board voted in favor of the Y by a 6-1 vote with Fant casting the lone opposing vote.
The comment about a possible conflict of interest was brought up by Manteca resident Karen Pearsall after Fant, during the discussion, volunteered the information about his “close association” with the Stockton youth organization.
“I’ve worked with the B&G Club (Stockton) for seven years. (B&G) standards are higher; they’re able to relate to the community – but that’s not taking away the good stuff that Y does to the community. So I’m asking the board to support” the Boys and Girls Club, Fant said during the discussion before the vote.
It was that comment which prompted Pearsall to address the issue.
“This is a delicate matter. You admitted to a close association with the Boys and Girls Club (which) gives you the best opportunity to see them in the best light,” Pearsall noted.
That’s “not unethical,” she qualified; however, it’s “kind of walking the line. There might be that perception.”
Pearsall pointed out that Board of Trustee vice president Evelyn Moore similarly has had extensive involvement with the Manteca Boys and Girls Club but has never used that volunteer pulpit in the same manner that Fant was using his own affiliation with the Stockton youth organization during the discussion Tuesday night.
“I don’t think she’s ever used her position” in that light, Pearsall said.
Fant, though, was unapologetic for his action. Saying he has been on the Stockton Planning Commission and is currently on the San Joaquin County Fair Board, “I understand conflicts of interest,” he said.
“I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m not abstaining,” he firmly stated, because he is no longer on the board and neither is he an employee of the Stockton Boys and Girls Club.
Weston Ranch is Manteca Unified’s Area 1. Fant was elected in the November 2012 elections for a four-year term. When the 10,000 residential homes were developed in this area in French Camp, it was incorporated into the City of Stockton. However, it remained a part of Manteca Unified and currently has two elementary schools (August Knodt and Great Valley), one traditional high school (Weston Ranch High), and one continuing school, New Vision High.