The AC Transit Board of Directors voted 5-0 last night to censure board member Joel Young for violating board policies concerning its code of ethics and improperly using district property for personal gain. Board director Mark Williams abstained from the vote. The censure of Young included no fines or penalties, but it represented a significant, and unusual, public rebuke of an elected official.
Young was not in the room as his colleagues voted to approve the resolution censuring him, thereby irritating some board members for his unwillingness to shed additional light on the allegations. Ward Five board member Jeff Davis said he was disappointed by Young’s absence. “To me, his position reflects poorly on us,” said Davis. “Just not what he did, but what he did since then.” Davis added he was uncomfortable sitting in judgment of a colleague, however, Young’s unwillingness to publicly defend his actions made it less difficult. “I would like to hear some contrition and I’m not hearing it,” he said.irst reported, an investigation by former Interim General Counsel Ken Scheidig into Young’s activities found that he had reviewed confidential legal files from AC Transit to help his private legal practice. Young’s law firm — the Tidrick Law Firm of Berkeley — is suing two other transit agencies in cases that are very similar to a case in which AC Transit was a defendant and was forced to pay out more than $12 million.
Approval of the censure resolution was delayed an hour while a list of amendments offered by board member Chris Peeples was added to the resolution, including language rebuking Young for repeatedly participating in closed session meetings pertaining to the lawsuit against AC Transit that closely resembled the two suits later filed by Young’s firm against transit agencies in Santa Clara County and Portland.
Wednesday’s action was the first time the AC Transit Board of Directors used the power of censure against one of its own since 2000 when it reprimanded then-board member Nancy Jewell Cross for misuse of public funds.