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  Richmond Councilman Trying to Waive Fines Against Campaign Worker
November 18, 2013

Richmond councilman trying to waive fines against campaign worker
By Robert Rogers
Contra Costa Times
Posted:   11/18/2013 03:43:15 PM PST | Updated:   68 min. ago

RICHMOND -- City Councilman Corky Boozé on Monday acknowledged that he is trying to waive code violation fees levied on a property owned by a former girlfriend who has worked on his political campaigns, saying he is not guilty of a conflict of interest.
Boozé, 69, placed an item on the three-member public safety committee's Thursday morning meeting agenda seeking to wave about $9,500 in fines slapped on an industrial property at 801 Hoffman Blvd.
The property, fenced and containing several dump trucks and piles of building debris, is owned by Laura Baker, a Vallejo resident who owns several properties in the city that have been linked to Boozé.
State conflict of interest laws preclude council members from voting on items with which they have a direct financial interest.
Boozé said he was confident he broke no laws.
"I have no ownership stake in that property, Laura does," Boozé said. "People get married and get divorced, people work for my campaign, like she did as a consultant, but that's that. The abuse of the law is code enforcement using it for a personal vendetta."
While no one has spoken out publicly against Boozé's move, a flurry of emails among elected officials and top administrators revealed that neither City Manager Bill Lindsay nor City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller approved of the item.
"I got an email from Goodmiller on Friday telling me that I shouldn't put the item on the agenda because Laura has not gone through the appeals process," Boozé said. "But that isn't true, so I will bring it to the public safety meeting and we'll deal with it. Goodmiller and the rest just want to make sure they discredit me."
Thursday's clash is just the latest in Boozé's long-running feuds with the city, which date to the 1990s but have become more volatile since he was elected to the City Council in 2010. A former race car driver with a flair for controversy and a penchant for amassing fleets of rusted-out cars and assorted machinery on properties around town -- generally under Baker's name -- Boozé is set to lock horns with his own city government in January over allegations that he has violated court orders in maintaining a junkyard at 22 Carlson Blvd., another site owned by Baker.
Baker could not be reached for comment.
Boozé has long denied the allegations and charged his political rivals with using the Code Enforcement Department as a tool for retribution.
"It's all political persecution," Boozé said. "This is all about trying to keep me from being re-elected. In this city, when it comes to this regime, there are rules for the city and different rules for Corky."
Boozé said the Code Enforcement Department routinely refrains from issuing fines when property owners comply with orders to abate, but that Baker's property is not afforded such leniency because it's seen as associated with him.
Code Enforcement Director Tim Higares said Monday that his staff hit the property with more than $8,000 in fines in 2008 and 2009, mostly for hazardous and unlawful conditions. A new $750 fine was added this year for unlawful fencing modifications, Higares said.
Higares said Boozé's claims that Baker is unfairly targeted are "ridiculous."
"The law doesn't allow me to wipe any fines away. We have an appeal process that gives people time frames to comply, and she didn't appeal," Higares said. "I have no ability to wipe away fines because that would not be ethical nor legal."


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