The Arlington County Board has rejected a conflict-of-interest charge leveled against one of its members by a fellow member as it prepares to vote on how the county manages public-private partnerships on transportation projects.
Saturday, Board Chairwoman Mary Hynes, along with members Walter Tejada and Jay Fisette, released a statement saying they were "dismayed" that member Libby Garvey had released emails to the news media that requested the board's fifth member, Chris Zimmerman, to recuse himself from Monday's vote.
In the email to fellow board members, Garvey wrote that Zimmerman's consulting work for AECOM Canada East created a conflict of interest and risked embarrassing the board. AECOM, a technical and management support services conglomerate, has worked with the county on parts of the Columbia Pike streetcar project, which the board voted 4-0 (Garvey abstaining) to construct jointly with Fairfax County over the summer. Garvey, who opposes the plan, has called for a independent cost-benefit analysis of the proposed project.
Arlington County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said this week in a memo to the board that Zimmerman's work does not constitute a conflict of interest under Virginia law. Zimmerman has said that he will not recuse himself from Monday's vote, which would require the county manager to keep the board abreast of all unsolicited proposals.