Carolyn Y. Smith, president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., had dinner last year with Mark T. Burger, one of the principals of Pacific Development Partners, according to documents the agency released last week.
Artie M. “Chip” Owen, the president of SEDC’s board, has reported on his statements of economic interest receiving between $10,000 and $100,000 a year from the company, and last month City Attorney Mike Aguirre opined that any deals inked between the company and SEDC are null and void because Owen’s presence on the board creates a conflict of interest under state law.
The relationship between Owen and PDP has become a major point of contention for SEDC, as PDP has been awarded and re-awarded a controversial deal administered by the agency at the Valencia Business Park. In total, the two principals of PDP have been involved in at least four SEDC projects in the last decade, at least three of which directly involved Owen as either partner or broker.
According to Smith’s expense reports, she rented a car to drive up to the meeting with Burger, which was held in Santa Monica. She stayed at the luxury Hotel Oceania for $450 for the night, including parking, and she and Burger had dinner at TGI Friday’s. In total, the trip cost taxpayers $661.84, according to the expense report.