Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interpreting the Ethics Laws: No Action Taken by State Ethics Commission

Update on the Ethics complaints filed by Larry Kelley:

Daily Hampshire Gazette:
This just in to the Gazette Newsroom

State ethics complaint against Amherst Select Board members closed without any action taken
By SCOTT MERZBACH Staff Writer

AMHERST -- The state Ethics Commission complaint filed against two members of the Select Board has been closed without any action being taken.

Information obtained from board members Rob Kusner and Alisa Brewer Wednesday morning, who were the subjects of the complaint, as well as from complainant Larry Kelley of South Pleasant Street, reveals that the matter was closed because the appropriate disclosures had been filed by both board members with the town clerk.

Kelley said he was surprised and disappointed by the decision "I'm not overly pleased with it," Kelley said.

The original complaint was filed by Kelley because Kusner and Brewer, who both voted in favor of a waiver on effluent fees for the University of Massachusetts, have connections to the university. Kusner is a mathematics professor, while Brewer's husband is a UMass professor.

Kelley maintains that the Select Board should at least have to do over its vote because the formal disclosures were not filed with town clerk until a week after the vote.

See more about the decision in Thursday's print edition of the Gazette and on GazetteNET.

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Alisa says: Verbal disclosure is sufficient. Verbal disclosure was made at the September 17th Select Board meeting. Case closed. If you're interested in actual ethics violations, check out these enforcement actions.

Ethics Commission

268A:23. Supplemental provisions; standards of conduct.

Section 23. (a) In addition to the other provisions of this chapter, and in supplement thereto, standards of conduct, as hereinafter set forth, are hereby established for all state, county and municipal employees.

(b) No current officer or employee of a state, county or municipal agency shall knowingly, or with reason to know:
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(3) act in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is likely to act or fail to act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person. It shall be unreasonable to so conclude if such officer or employee has disclosed in writing to his appointing authority or, if no appointing authority exists, discloses in a manner which is public in nature, the facts which would otherwise lead to such a conclusion.

Previous posting on this blog:

268A:19. Municipal employees, relatives or associates; financial interest in particular matter.
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(b) It shall not be a violation of this section
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(3) if the particular matter involves a determination of general policy and the interest of the municipal employee or members of his immediate family is shared with a substantial segment of the population of the municipality.

2 comments:

O'Reilly said...

I suspect the ethics complaint, now resolved, was a vehicle to attempt to reopen the issue of the deal between the Town of Amherst and UMass.

If activist town members think the town manager gave away too much in return for too little, why not address it openly and let the deal stand on its own two feet?

If its a good deal, citizens of Amherst will come to see it as such. If it is not, it should not be ratified.

LarryK4 said...

You got it O'reilly. If this travesty is such a great deal then Town Meeting will swoon over it and we can all sing Kumbia with the Umass Marching Band playing back up.

Yeah Elisa, verbal disclosure is okay as long as you can hear it; yours was mumbled and incoherent. And the letter I received from the Ethics folks said you had “filed appropriate disclosure”.

Maybe I’ve been writing too long, but when I see the (written) word “filed” I think in terms of WRITTEN documents--NOT verbal mumbling.