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Councilman Settle fined for conflict of interest votes 

    The Fair Political Practices Commission has fined San Luis Obispo City Councilman Allen Settle $6,000 for failing to recuse himself from three votes he cast in 1999 while he was mayor. All three votes were related to the controversial Marketplace project on the Dalidio property. According to the FPPC, Settle’s votes were a conflict of interest because he owns a rental property adjacent to the proposed Marketplace site. (Phone calls to Councilman Settle were unreturned as of press time).
    “In this matter,� the FPPC press release reads, “respondent Settle violated the conflict of interest provisions of the Political Reform Act in April 1999 and September 1999, by making and participating in making three governmental decision which had a reasonably foreseeable material financial effect on his interest in real property.�
     In front of an administrative judge, Settle represented himself against the FPPC’s charges last September. The judge recommended to the FPPC that Settle be fined the maximum $6,000 penalty. The commission adopted the judge’s recommendation last week.
     In November Settle, who has said he would appeal the decision, asked the city council to help pay his legal defense bills. The council declined to make a motion supporting the request.
    Settle has previously stated that the FPPC’s definition of a financial conflict of interest, a one-cent gain, cannot reasonably be applied in a small town. "If I vote to approve a public works project that paves the road in front of my house, is that one penny?" Settle asks.
—John Peabody

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