Lincoln City Council members voted Tuesday that a previously undisclosed personal loan between a council member and the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city is not a conflict of interest in discussing the litigation.
Before an executive session to discuss the case, City Attorney Justin Hagel told the council that plaintiff Lance Hagen’s $5,000 personal loan in 2014 to Council President Erv Fischer raises a question of a conflict of interest.
Hagel also said Fischer gave some testimony at trial in December that was in favor of the plaintiff or against the city's interests. Fischer said he’s been “disallowed” from a previous executive session and said the litigation is over. Hagel said issues remain on attorneys’ fees and possible appeals.
“I don’t owe anybody anything,” Fischer said. “I have no interest in anything. Why is there a conflict when it’s already been done?”
“There’s a lot of things that can still be discussed related to that case,” Hagel said.
Fischer said his testimony was "not even my opinion" and briefly sparred with fellow council member Tom Volk over the perception of Hagen’s loan. Council members voted 2-1, Volk dissenting and Fischer not voting, that Fischer has no conflict of interest. Councilor Karen Daly also read a statement supporting Fischer’s integrity.
Lincoln Mayor Gerarld Wise commended the council’s discussion.
“That turned out very well, I thought,” Wise said Wednesday. “I think some things got resolved.”