conway photo Lovely Conway, South Carolina

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Let's suppose, hypothetically speaking, that one of the school board members, John Smith, is also a board member of a village business association. This member votes against a proposal to raise funds by purchasing commemorative chairs because he believes it would compete against the business association's program to purchase commemorative bricks. Does this board member have a conflict of interest? In the theoretical sense, yes, but not under our town's policy since there is no profit motivation nor requirement for disclosure. However, what is the right thing for Smith to do in such a situation?

Well for starters, he should fully disclose the potential competing interests. Secondly, he should recognize that his personal interests are subservient to his duties as an insider of the organization he serves, which in this case is the school board. He does not represent his other board when sitting on this board. His sole concern is voting in the best interests of the organization for which he is an elected member. Any other interest is a conflicting interest. If he cannot do this, he should abstain from the vote, but that is strictly his decision. Again, this type of disclosure is not required here. But if it were, all doubt would be removed and "hidden agendas," whether perceived or real, would become largely a thing of the past.

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