Councilman Frank Quintero and Mayor Ara Najarian said it was too soon to tell whether a conflict of interest existed and cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
Even though a close friendship might raise the perception of a conflict in making an unbiased decision, in a close-knit town, where everyone seems to have extensive contacts, officials need to use caution in determining where to draw the line, Howard said.
But on Tuesday, Councilman John Drayman called Gharpetian’s defense of his participation in an association that has so far remained silent “absurd.”
“No one seems to know what the devil is going on here,” Drayman said.
Since the association is a limited-liability company, it is not subject to the same level of transparency as tax-exempt organizations. Gharpetian has refused to reveal the identities of its board of directors, saying they prefer to remain anonymous.
And until Quintero pressed him on Tuesday to reveal the true purpose of the association, Gharpetian had refused to stray beyond vague references to the group’s online mission statements.
On Tuesday, Gharpetian said members of the group pay a $25 subscription fee for a service that would notify them of possible changes to the city’s zoning codes or development regulations.
“What is wrong with that?” he asked the council.
For most on the council, nothing. But in October, Gharpetian’s colleague on the review board and fellow association member, John Cianfrini, said the group was organized to counteract the influence of the city’s 19 homeowners associations, and that it was made up mostly of developers, architects and other building professionals.