In a sign of the times, a top aide to Mayor Mike McGinn was going to attend Monday night’s meeting of the mayor and the National Cannabis Industry Association as a potential investor or entrepreneur, according to the political news web site Publicola.
But David Hiller, a mayoral adviser on external affairs, said his interest was misunderstood. Hiller said that outside of work he showed some colleagues a profit-and-loss sheet and other financial plans he had worked up for a hypothetical 20-acre pot farm. “Some people do fantasy football, we sat down to create our fantasy team,” Hiller said, adding that he’s probably about $1.5 million short of ever realizing that fantasy.
“I’m not going to raise that. There’s no ‘there’ there. It was a miscommunication,” he said. But a news release from the industry group said he was going to attend the meeting in an official capacity, which led the mayor’s office to explain that no, Hiller would be attending because of his private interest.
Hiller did not end up going to the meeting at the Washington Athletic Club. But he could have, and could engage in a legal private business outside of work, according to the city’s ethics director, as long as he stayed clear of any work for the city in that area, and did not use his position to his advantage. Under the state’s new legal marijuana law, pot merchants would be regulated by the state not the city.
“There is no bar on city employees engaging in outside business. They just have to be scrupulous about not using their city positions to their advantage,” said Wayne Barnett, the city’s ethics director.
Hiller said he’s not involved in a pot business, did not use city time in his hypothetical exercise, and has not played a part in marijuana-related policy-making. McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus also said Hiller has not figured in marijuana discussions in the mayor’s office.