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November 05, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 05, 2004

Council may forego Shoreline perk Council may forego Shoreline perk (November 05, 2004)

Decision due soon on whether to keep free seats

By Julie O'Shea

Seven months after Mountain View City Council members found themselves facing conflict of interest accusations over their free Shoreline concert tickets, they will be asked to decide whether they should forego the perk all together. The matter will be discussed and voted on at either the Nov. 23 or Dec. 7 council meeting.

Currently, each council member receives two VIP season tickets for all events at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The city receives the tickets free of charge as part of the lease agreement it has with Shoreline operators. In addition to getting 20 box seats per show, the city also receives 300 individual tickets.

This arrangement was not questioned during the 18-year lease until last April, when Council member Greg Perry turned down his season tickets. He said he felt uncomfortable taking them since he has to vote on issues concerning Shoreline.

Although City Attorney Michael Martello said the city is not violating state law by accepting the tickets, council members acknowledged the current Shoreline deal may come across as being a conflict of interest.

The council procedures committee, which includes Mayor Matt Pear and Council members Nick Galiotto and Mary Lou Zoglin, was asked to investigate the matter and make suggestions.

Various alternatives were discussed last week, but the group could not decide on one and is sending the matter back to the full council for a vote.

Besides suggesting that council members forgo the free tickets entirely, other alternatives offered by the committee include limiting the number of free tickets and using an admittance badge policy already in place at the Concord Pavilion. Under the badge arrangement, council members would be allowed to go to all concerts at Shoreline in order to observe and monitor the events. However, if they want to sit down and stay for the whole concert, they must purchase a ticket.

The council could also elect to maintain the current ticket policy.

If council members decide to give up all the free tickets they receive from Shoreline, the tickets will be sold and the proceeds put into the city's general fund, Martello said. A four-seat box at Shoreline sells for $17,500 for the concert season.

During a meeting of the council procedures committee last week, Galiotto said he would support keeping some of the city's 300 individual tickets.

"I don't see a conflict with the tickets going to volunteers and employees (doing a good job)," he said.

Pear, on the other hand, said he'd prefer to see all the tickets sold rather than only some of them.

"I think the issue is a perception issue, and it's not limited to the premium seats," Pear said. And besides, he added, what if, for example, Martello ended up pulling a pair of Shoreline tickets from an employee raffle? Wouldn't that be a conflict of interest?

City Manager Kevin Duggan quickly responded, "We can remove anyone from the pool that we want to."

And Martello joked: "I've never been allowed in the pool."

Zoglin was absent from last week's council procedures committee.

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]


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