Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Richmond Councilman Uses Position to Avoid Fines

By John Geluardi
Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Richmond Vice Mayor Corky Boozé is attempting to use his position as an elected official to dismiss $9,500 in city fines on a property that he controls through a woman he has claimed to be his decades-long domestic partner.

Boozé, who has ties to oil giant Chevron Corporation, has put an item on the city Public Safety Committee agenda that proposes to waive the fines for unexplained reasons. Boozé bypassed the city manager and city attorney to place the item on the agenda. And he left it there despite warnings from the City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller that he could be in violation of state laws that restrict elected officials from voting on issues in which they have a financial interest.

Corky Boozé
  • Corky Boozé
The city’s code enforcement department levied the fines on the property — mostly in 2008 and 2009 — due to blighted conditions that posed a threat to public health. The small, industrial property, now cleaned up, was jammed with dump trucks, trailers, wrecked automobiles, and an assortment of unidentified drums and containers.

Boozé’s battles with the city over four blighted properties he controls go back to the 1990s. The city has taken court action, for the second time, against Boozé in relation to a Richmond property located at 22 Carlson Boulevard, which has been repeatedly deemed hazardous.

But ownership of the four properties that Boozé controls remains murky. In the 1990s, while Boozé was facing numerous court actions, he deeded the four properties to his son, Kevin. But then in 1997, after losing a lengthy court battle with the city over the blighted Carlson property, Kevin Boozé surrendered any interest he had in the properties to Laura Baker.

Baker, a rather mysterious woman who lives in Vallejo, is, or was, Boozé’s domestic partner of thirty years, according to a letter Boozé wrote to the Contra Costa County Superior Court in relation to another court case. One reason Boozé may have put the property in Baker’s name is the large number of banks, credit card companies, businesses, and individuals who have filed claims against him for failure to pay his debts.

According Contra Costa County Superior Court records, there have been more than thirty filings against Boozé for nonpayment of loans and credit card debt. In one case, a woman named Jacquelyn Wingfield filed a court action against Boozé for failing to pay $124,736 in loans he used to bolster his failed gas station business. The court found in Wingfield’s favor, but she was unable to collect the debt because Boozé’s properties were shielded by Baker’s ownership. In addition, Boozé has further protected himself from creditors by claiming on his statement of economic interests, which all councilmembers are required to file, that he has no reported salary, no business profits and no stocks worth more than $500.

If the committee votes in Boozé’s favor, the decision can be appealed, according to the Richmond municipal code.

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