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Updated: Chan Recuses Herself From New Vote On Northside Library Location

Elisa Chan
Ryan Loyd
TPR News

(Updated: 4/10/13 1:20 p.m.) Following some discussion, city council has postponed the vote on the library location until May.

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal admonished city staffers, who knew the library location was next to Chan's business.

Chan gave an emotional statement before the council before leaving the dais so the rest of city council could discuss and decide on the issue.

(Original Post: 4/10/13) San Antonio City Council will take a second vote to acquire a building in District 9 following information that a vote taken last week carried a possible ethics violation.

The full council voted to acquire a building, located at 2515 E. Evans Rd., for a new library on the Northside. The building is in District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan’s district and also happens to border her engineering firm, Unitech Consulting Engineers, which is located at 2431 E. Evans Rd.

Council documents say Chan requested the item be brought back for a vote this Thursday, this time without her participation.

The documents also reveal that city staff in the library, legal and Capital Management Improvement Services Department were aware of Chan's ownership in the property adjacent to the library site, but that it was not disclosed at the council meeting last week when a vote was taken.

According to the San Antonio ethics code, to avoid the appearance and risk of impropriety, a city official or employee cannot take any official action that he or she knows is likely to affect the economic interests of themselves.

When the first vote was taken at the council A session, Chan made the motion for the vote. It was later discovered that her ownership interest of her business may be in conflict with a government building next door, as it may have positive implications on property values.

Documents show five sites had been considered for the new library, but the library board chose the Evans site because reusing a building would shorten the project timeline, it is located in a rapidly growing area of town, and the site fits into the library's strategic plan.

No one from Chan's office was able to comment on this story.

It’s unclear what further action will be taken, but the City of San Antonio's Ethics Review Board may meet to discuss the matter.