OAKLAND -- An attorney on the AC Transit board will be on the hot seat Wednesday evening when the board considers censuring him for alleged ethics violations and misuse of district resources for getting information on a district lawsuit similar to cases his private law firm is working on against other transit agencies.
An internal district investigation concluded Director Joel Young of Oakland may have violated district policies and conflict of interest rules by accessing and copying district files on a lawsuit over bus driver pay.
Young's firm, Tidrick of Berkeley, didn't sue AC Transit. But the firm is representing bus drivers in similar lawsuits against Portland's TriMet transit system and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
Young "likely" violated a district policy for using district resources for nondistrict purposes, concluded the May 7 report by AC Transit's office of general counsel.
Board President Greg Harper of Emeryville said he supports the censure resolution to protect district credibility.
"There's clearly enough evidence that an impropriety occurred," Harper said. "It's not for us to say whether this amounts to something like a misdemeanor. We can say, however, the director needs to be more careful."
Harper said he is upset Young didn't tell the board he was involved in the bus driver pay lawsuits against other transit agencies.
Young denied any wrongdoing in a 10-page response last month, saying there is no evidence to support claims that he abused his position or used it to help his law firm.
"There is no conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act or common law," Young wrote in his report sent June 26 to the transit board. "AC Transit has failed to substantiate any of its outrageous claims with admissible evidence."
The board will consider the censure resolution when it meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday at 1600 Franklin St. in Oakland.
The conflict of interest allegation concerns a lawsuit that AC Transit bus drivers filed in 2004, contending they were underpaid for the time between working split shifts.
Young, an AC Transit board member at large since 2009, sat in on closed-door sessions about the case to discuss the transit district's legal defense, according to the internal report written by interim AC Transit counsel Ken Scheidig.
In October, Young got permission from AC Transit General Counsel Vincent Ewing to review case documents on the case at a San Francisco law firm defending AC Transit on the pay issue.
Young inspected and copied the documents, and San Francisco law firm Hanson Bridgett later billed AC Transit $565 for helping Young, according to the internal report.
In an email Wednesday, Young said he had no conflict of interest, and the case files he reviewed were available for inspection by the general public.
"I disclosed these issues regarding our representation of these individuals to the then current AC Transit Board General Counsel and received approval from him that there was no conflict," Young wrote.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.