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In The News

Foust's Bargain on the Saltworks

By Zusha Elinson
The Bay Citizen, 7/13/10

The site in Redwood City where Cargill wants to build as many as 12,000 new units of housing.

The state's political ethics agency has taken an interest in a Redwood City politician's alleged conflict of interest with the big Saltworks project, the Palo Alto Daily News reports.

Roseanne Foust, who's on the City Council, was targeted for her role as the head of a business lobbying group that's backing the controversial project. Opponents of the development, who want the site to be restored to wetlands, say she won't be impartial voting on the plans that would put 12,000 new homes in the salt flats.

Foust is president and CEO of the San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), which formally endorsed the Saltworks plan in January. She joined the group in 2008 and has come under fire from opponents of the development who contend she cannot make objective decisions as a member of the City Council since her day job is to advance the association's interests.

The state's Fair Political Practices Commission sent a letter confirming that it's looking into the matter to Andy Cohen, a Menlo Park city councilman who filed the complaint.

The alleged Foustian bargain has been catching flack for some time. Redwood City resident Marsha Cohen raised the same criticisms last year in an op-ed. Foust has maintained that she followed the advice of Redwood City lawyers and that there is no conflict, saying she didn't vote on the endorsement since she's not a board member at the business lobbying group she runs. Incidentally, an official from Cargill, the owner of the salt flats, is an advisor to the SAMCEDA board.


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