absurd and ludicrous," he said.
The mayor, who was advised against voting on certain issues until he
is cleared by the Fair Political Practices Commission, said he will vote
on every issue that he can, based on the advice of City Atty. Gail
Hutton is forwarding a packet to the Fair Political Practices
Commission, asking them to look into conflict of interest allegations
stemming from the mayor's involvement with the Huntington Beach
Conference and Visitor's Bureau visitors guide and the Local News.
Until the findings come back, she has told Garofalo to refrain from
voting on any items that might involve past advertisers in both products.
Garofalo is the publisher of the Local News and the city-sponsored
Huntington Beach Conference & Visitor's Bureau visitors guide. Garofalo
has held the contract to publish the visitors guide since 1993, two years
before he took a seat on the City Council. During his tenure on the
council, Garofalo has voted more than 87 times on matters involving
advertisers in the visitors guide. Those advertisers include such
* the Waterfront Hilton Beach Resort hotel;
* Hearthside Homes, formerly Koll Real Estate Group;
* Huntington Seacliff;
* Seacliff Village;
* Commercial Investment Management Group, which has proposed a hotel,
retail and restaurant project Downtown.
Garofalo has said he sold the Local News in 1997 to Huntington
Beach-based Coatings Resource Co., owned by former Planning Commissioner
Ed Laird. But county records show conflicting information.
Paperwork filed with the county doesn't reflect a change of ownership
until January 1999, at which time the owner is named as Air Quality
Consultants, a company headed by Laird's son, Jeff Laird. And papers
filed with the county in April name Garofalo as the owner since 1993.
Sitting behind his desk at Coatings Resource, Ed Laird backed up
Garofalo's story about the ownership of the Local News.
"I did initially [own it] a few years back through one of my
companies, but then I transferred it to my son's company [Air Quality
Consultants], my engineering company that my son now runs and owns,"
When asked for proof of the sale, Laird refused to present or show any
"I'll show it to the FPPC," Laird said. "This is a private business,
and it's a private business deal, and it doesn't have to come under
scrutiny of your newspaper or anybody in Huntington Beach."