Council member wowed by ride in Google's fighter jet Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Jan 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm
City Council members in Google's hometown may be paid only $500 a month by the city, but Mountain View council member John Inks has found another perk to the job -- a thrill ride in a fighter jet owned by the founders of Google.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 1:50 PM
Posted by MV Mama, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm
Seriously, my eyes rolled so far into the back on my head upon reading this. This jet is for the executives at Google? Maybe in case they need to escape the Google campus in a hurry? Give me a break. When is the city going to stop bending over for Google?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm
I don't understand how this isn't a gift of value. If our elected MV officials don't make enough money, the city of MV should pay them more. They should not be able to accept gifts from companies that deal with the city.
At the very least, Inks should recuse himself regarding any discussions or votes that are related to Google. At worst, Inks cannot be impartial. At best, there's an appearance of impropriety.
How many other MV council members have received "gifts" that were considered gifts? Who gave these "gifts"? What were these "gifts"?
Posted by Pilot, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm
Note that "the engine stalled" is almost certainly erroneous. More likely, there was an aerodynamic stall of the wing. Pilots often talk about stalling and it never refers to the engine, always to the wing.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm
Seems like "transportation" is considered a gift.
"Example: An official is given an informational tour of a new facility in order to see how it functions. The tour itself is "informational material." Therefore, it does not constitute a gift to the official.
However, food, beverage, and transportation to and from the site would be considered gifts to the official. "
Also - Moffet Field is reachable by commercial transportation
"... except insofar as such transportation is not commercially
Posted by Petty!, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Until the VOICE started allowing these blogs, I never knew how petty our Mountain View residents were.
Since none of you will actually take on the job of City Council - where they get tons of grief, very little money, and honestly, even less power (it is Mtn View), I think you all should just allow a bit of fun where they are offered it and
Posted by mary, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm
Being a council member is a 2nd job to those elected and most of them work for very high profile companies - they are not broke - they do not need a raise from the City and they need to do their jobs - work for the citizens of Mountain View.
Posted by MSW, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Jan 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm
Why don't some of you "mean spirited MV residents" run for council? Really, anyone in a similar situation would gladly accept the invitation for the flight and learn something informational about the hangar operation........are you just jealous that he got an opportunity that you will never get?
Posted by Dianne, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm
I remember hearing the jets during the time the googlers were flying. Why do they get to have priviledges that the ordinary people do not - when it impacts all of us? These same googlers believe that ordinary people should drive less and buy expensive hybrids when they get to play with jets that burn enormous amounts of fuel?
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2012 at 7:57 am
Here's some more gas to add to the fire for mean spirited MV residents. I hear the council members eat for free at Google. Some of them make excuses to visit Google and then just have to stop by for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Also they get free dinner at council meetings. They extort local companies to provide food.
Posted by John Inks, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm
I agree with those of you that question both official approval and more importantly, any perceived quid pro quo influence regarding Google business with the city.
I supported the Charleston site ground lease and am aware of Google's considerable presence in Mountain View, assistance to schools and science, technology and math outreach. I can claim that I'm impartial, but there's no way I can be completely objective. I'm more reportable to you than the FPPC in that regard. I'm very interested in hearing from any of you further on this matter.
We have an agenda item Tuesday regarding an encroachment permit for Google to build bridges over Stevens Creek to their future Bay View development on Moffett. I have prepared well for this very unique project (concept only, nothing approved). I have numerous questions for staff and Google and think it's important that I participate. However, I am also genuinely interested in hearing you out regarding the permit and/or my participation on the item.
Posted by Rich, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2012 at 9:29 am
Thanks, John for the invitiation to contact you with concerns. We should continue to discuss transparency and ethical actions from our elected leaders.
I disagree with those who claim that discussion about your flight is just sour grapes and jealousy. Like many, I can afford my own flight (if it were available) and as an ordinary citizen I pay for all forms of my travel/entertainment (concerts, meals, and flights.) Like most oridnary Mountain View residents, I don't have insider access to special events....which is fine since offering this special flight to all residents wouldn't be practical.
So my question to John Inks....since there's a perception that you might not be impartial in dealing with Google and Google having many items before the City Council, do you regret taking this free flight from Google? Are you willing to recuse yourself from discussing or voting on Google issues?
Posted by June, a resident of another community, on Jan 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm
So, if we are saying that John is considered tainted by accepting a 'free ride' by Google, does that mean that we should recuse ourselves from voting in regular elections on things that affect Google if we have a free g-mail account &/or use their free city-wide wi-fi network to access the internet?!? Aren't many of us getting something for nothing from Google (do you know how much Comcast charges for internet access!)?
At least John is forward-thinking enough to study up on the issues that will come before the council, instead of just listening to what's presented before the council & making less-informed decisions. And,if nothing else, I'd say this dust-up will probably make him more prone to being very impartial, since he'll probably need to explain every decision he now makes on Google issues to at least one of you!
Posted by The Point, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm
As an elected public official, Mr. Inks has a different threshhold than us on these matters. He's (presumably) taken the conflict of interests course required of public officials, and should've had better judgment. A $3,500 airplane ride isn't something available to the rest of us for free, and I have a hard time digesting that it was truly necessary for research. He should've erred on the side of caution and declined (or offered to pay for) this perk. Considering the uproar when Councilmembers get a few free Shoreline tickets, I'm surprised so many feel this is OK. It's really not...whether by law or by public perception.
I don't want to see him have to recuse himself. Maybe an apology and an offer to pay a portion (can't expect him to now fork over $3,500) of what the ride would normally cost. It's possible the FPPC manuals might describe corrective actions.
Posted by Bruno, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm
I'm not looking to benefit from Google. I understand how they operate and I don't care to use their services. It's my personal choice.
MV Mama, You are absolutely correct. They do not live in Mountain View, and for that we should actually be thankful. Ask our neighbors in Palo Alto how they feel about Larry Page's 3 year secret construction project that has leveled an entire block in a residential neighborhood and is still under way to this day. As you can probably guess, they aren't too crazy about it.
Any professional will tell you that accepting gifts from clients, companies or organizations that you do business with directly is unethical. There's not much to debate here honestly. I'm sure Mr. Inks considered this before he decided to take the ride, but it didn't deter him when it probably should have.