Loomis Town Council: outside the ChambersBy: Steve Archer, Reporter
Know and Go:
What: Loomis Town Council meeting
When: 6 p.m. May 24
Where: Blue Goose Event Center, 3550 Taylor Road
“A small town is like a big family” is the Loomis Town slogan and leaders of the Loomis family come from diverse backgrounds ranging from public service to real estate to running a family business.
Below, The Loomis News looks at the jobs of Loomis Town Council members because conflict-of- interest allegations were publicly made by some community members regarding the Village at Loomis and a council member.
Specifically, community member Connie Mancasola sent an email April 18 to the Loomis Town Council, Town Manager Sean Rabe and town attorney Jeffrey Mitchell. She questioned whether Town Councilman Tim Onderko’s business, Viridi Capital, created a conflict of interest and asked that Onderko recuse himself from voting on the Village at Loomis project.
The town attorney, though, negated those allegations.
In an email memo to Rabe and the Town Council, Mitchell said there is no conflict of interest between Onderko and his business, Viridi Capital, or his California Housing Partnership Corporation job and his council duties. Those council duties include deliberating on the proposed Village at Loomis project. Mitchell is an attorney with the firm, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann and Girard.
“The town has heard from citizens expressing concerns that Councilmember Onderko should not participate in decisions regarding the Village project because of alleged conflicts of interest or bias,” Mitchell wrote in the memo. “I have reviewed these claims and I do not believe the facts provided demonstrate either a conflict or bias.”
“It is important to note that it is common, and neither an inherent conflict of interest nor proof of bias, for decision makers to have a private job or to serve on another public or private board,” Mitchell added. “Nor is it a conflict or proof of bias for decision makers to have opinions regarding policy or a voting record consistent with those opinions.”
Mitchell said a conflict only exists if a council member participates in a decision that would have a material effect on his or her financial interest.
“At this point, no facts have been alleged that show how Mr. Onderko’s outside activities would be financially affected by a decision concerning the Village project,” Mitchell wrote in the memo. “In fact, no facts have been presented that appear to demonstrate any connection whatsoever between these interests and the Village project or the Town of Loomis. Mere supposition and speculation is not evidence.”
What the council members do for work
Councilman Onderko is secretary of the California Housing Partnership Corporation board of directors. He also owns Viridi Capital, a real-estate investment company.
“For over 12 years, I’ve worked through a combination of real estate activities across the investing spectrum ranging from representation of buyers, sellers, investors and borrowers with respect to residential and commercial sales and private lending,” Onderko said. “My company’s core mission is focused on turning blighted and distressed investment properties into attractive real estate holdings for investors and clients. I’m a small business owner and my professional office is located in Roseville where I practice under a real estate broker license issued by the state of California.”
Onderko said there is no conflict of interest between his career and his position as a member of the Loomis Town Council.
“If there was ever a conflict, I’d recuse myself without hesitation,” Onderko said. “Aside from my personal residence, neither I nor my business have any assets, liabilities or business interests in the town of Loomis.”
Loomis Mayor Rhonda Morillas retired from her family business, Nelthorpe and Sons appliance store, after 38 years. Morillas still owns the building where the business is located and currently operated by different owners. Morillas said she also owns six-and-a-half acres in Loomis with three homes on the property.
“My family had the business from 1915 to 2008,” Morillas said. “I’m a homeowner and a mother. I’ve been on the council 25 years and never accepted any gifts. I’m also a charter member of Soroptimist International of the Loomis Basin.”
“I don’t believe I have any conflicts with anything,” Morillas added.
Miguel Ucovich retired from the city of Roseville after 29 years as a recreation superintendent in 1991.
“After that, I had several jobs like working in a nursery, administrator for the Georgetown Park district and my last job was operating a lawn care service for eight to nine years, mowing lawns,” Ucovich said. “None of these positions had any bearing on my decisions on the Town Council or gave me any economic reward.”
Brian Baker said he is the owner of “two small family businesses.”
“For one, I am a manufacturer’s representative dealing with equipment related to the construction industry,” Baker said. “The other business is industrial blacksmithing. We repair pneumatic tools and industrial air systems, like compressors. A good portion of that business deals with the demolition industry.”
Before his two current jobs, Baker said he worked as a Class A truck driver. Baker said the only property he owns is his Loomis home.
Jeff Duncan, the newest Town Council member, said he retired from the state eight years ago.
“I retired from the California Department of Corrections (CDC) in December of 2010,” Duncan said. “Other than being a substitute teacher for the Placer Union High School District for a short time, I have mainly spent time with family and enjoying freedom after 24 years working for the CDC.”
Duncan was a Loomis Planning Commissioner before being appointed to the Loomis Town Council to fill Robert Black’s vacant seat.
“I was appointed to the Town Council this past October so my job now is to represent the people of Loomis,” Duncan said. “I do not have business or real estate ventures of any kind. On the 700 form I filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission, I listed my wife's hairstyling business because she does pay for a business license with the town of Loomis. I am not sure if that is even necessary but I did not want any problems. Other than that, I have no business interests in Loomis other than that of a resident of Loomis since 1986.”