Crows Landing project foe sues law firm, consultant

A group opposing the PCCP West Park LLC proposed development on Stanislaus County's West Side has filed conflict-of-interest complaints against a Stockton law firm and a transportation consultant.

The complaints were filed with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, and in the case of the law firm, with the State Bar of California as well.

WS-PACE.org, headed by Patterson resident Ron Swift, filed the complaints against the Neumiller & Beardslee law firm and D.J. Smith, the Sacramento transportation consultant.

WS-PACE is a grass-roots group formed to oppose the West Park proposal. West Park, headed by Sacramento developer Gerry Kamilos, is negotiating with Stanislaus County to build a business and industrial park on 4,800 acres in and surrounding the Crows Landing Air Facility.

The complaints against Neumiller & Beardslee contend that the law firm represents West Park, the Stanislaus Council of Governments and the San Joaquin Council of Governments. The conflict comes because StanCOG voted in November to support a West Park proposal to apply for state bond money to build a short-haul rail link between the West Park development and the Port of Oakland, according to Swift.

Representing the two councils of government is a conflict because they are competing for the same state bond money, Swift said.

Tom Shephard, a partner in Neumiller & Beardslee, said representing the two councils of government isn't a conflict, because they are in agreement on a list of projects that should be funded with the bond money.

"The two COGs are on the same side, supporting a common list supported by much of Northern California," Shephard said.

The law firm doesn't represent West Park, Shephard said, and hasn't done any work on the project. It does represent Mariposa Lakes, a Stockton development also headed by Kamilos, Shephard said.

Swift said West Park had listed the law firm as part of its development team in an organizational chart.

The West Park developers apparently listed all the firms that had done work for Kamilos as part of the project, Shephard said.

Another Fair Political Practices Commission complaint sent by Swift contends that Smith, the transportation consultant, has a conflict because he represents the San Joaquin Council of Governments lobbying for state transportation bond money, while serving on West Park's executive committee.

West Park and the San Joaquin COG are competing for the same bond money, Swift said in the complaint.

Smith could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Swift said the complaints were mailed Monday.

"If the law firm is representing both parties, I simply think that's wrong, and that's why I filed it," Swift said.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.

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