Newtown Board of Ethics Meeting – Special Session
Monday October 22, 2007
The Newtown Board of Ethics met for a special session on Monday October 22, 2007 at 7:30p.m. in the lower meeting room located at Town Hall South. The meeting was called to order at 7:30p.m. by chairman Peter Vanbuskirk.
PRESENT: Chairman Peter Vanbuskirk, Vice Chair Brian Ochs, Neal DeYoung, Sarah Frampton, Mark Streck. One member of the press. Four members of the public, LeReine Frampton of 6 Pebble Road Newtown, Paul Mangiafico of 15 Kent Road Newtown and Robert Hall of 5 Nettleton Avenue Newtown and Joseph Borst of 10 Beechwood Drive Sandy Hook.
ABSENT: Steven Sedensky, Mitch Bolinsky
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Mr. Borst had presented to the Board a packet of information he felt would help in coming to a conclusion regarding the possibility of a conflict of interest.
A. Review complaint received from Mr. Earl Smith.
Mr. Vanbuskirk open discussion to the Board by asking if anyone had any questions regarding the letter sent to Mr. Borst from the Board. Mr. Vanbuskirk then asked the Board if the complaint made by Mr. Smith was valid. Mr. DeYoung responded, yes the formal complaint made clear in the second letter was in fact a valid complaint. Mr. Vanbuskirk added that the first letter submitted by Mr. Borst was not clear and did not specify that the purpose of his letter was that of a formal complaint. Mr. Smith issued a second letter to the Board, at the request of Mr. Vanbuskirk, specifying that he was in fact submitting a formal complaint to the Board. Mr. Ochs was also in agreement that the complaint is now a formal submission by Mr. Smith.
Mr. DeYoung moved to accept Mr. Smith’s second letter dated October 13, 2007 of complaint. Ms. Frampton seconded motion. All were in favor.
Mr. Vanbuskirk stated, now that the Board has accepted the letter as a formal complaint, the Board should move on to the discussion of and planning the possibility of a full hearing. Mr. Vanbuskirk went on to say that, given the situation which is exceptionally public, the special session could have been held as a private session, as Section 36-17 from Chapter 36 – Ethics, elaborates.
Mr. DeYoung questioned Mr. Borst if he had received copies of the letters from Mr. Smith. Mr. Borst responded that he had not yet received the letters via regular mail.
Mr. Ochs added that the Board should discuss the possibility of holding a full hearing on the matter. Mr. Vanbuskirk in agreement, added that the discussion is needed to what ever extent and a well defined sequence of events to decipher weather a full hearing will be justified.
Mr. DeYoung added that the articles published in the Newtown Bee have raised some pertinent issues regarding the Town Code.
Ms. Frampton stated that the second letter from Mr. Smith warrants the Board to discuss the issue in greater detail as well as, in all fairness, to hear what Mr. Borst has to say. Mr. Streck said he felt that a full hearing would be needed at this point. Ms. Frampton, in agreement added that she felt that all information regarding the issue at hand needs to be looked at and considered part of the whole.
Mr. Vanbuskirk said that the information gathered at this special session meeting will determine if a full hearing is needed. Mr. Ochs asked Mr. Borst if he would be opposed to a full hearing. Mr. Borst replied that he would not be opposed and that the original letter he sent in to the Board through Mr. Bolinsky was only because Mr. Bolinsky was the only person he knew as a member of the Board. Additionally, that he has served on the Legislative Council for 18 years and the question was always raised if he would be allowed to participate in voting based on the possibility of a conflict of interest and there was never an issue because Mr. Borst would only be voting on the bottom line figure and not a line item. Mr. Borst added that when he drove for the Board of Education, it was on a part
time basis for the Alternative Education students and was something he did for the children and nothing for personal gain. Mr. Borst made a strong point that he did not take the position for monetary gain as he did not need the money.
Mr. Vanbuskirk added that currently the Board understands Mr. Borsts history with the Town of Newtown and based on Mr. Smith’s letters, right now the Board’s job is to determine weather a full hearing is necessary. Mr. Borst commented on the packet he had distributed to Board members saying that the information it contains is proof enough to dismiss all complaints. Mr. Borst read from his prepared packet of information, citing the monies he had made from his Town position and the reasons why. Mr. Borst also made it clear that his salary as a bus driver was not relevant to the discussion.
Mr. DeYoung question the public attendees if they had anything to add to the discussion. Mr. Hall added that he has had his own experiences with the Board of Ethics some 30 years previous where he was seeking an advisory opinion regarding a similar situation and that currently it seems that the Board is being used for political purposes especially this close to an election. Mr. DeYoung suggested that the Board break to discuss and return to session. Mr. Vanbuskirk responded that leaving session may be construed as a problem and that the last thing the Board wants is to be “used” for political purposes. The Board needs to be careful of that and the best decision may be to schedule a full hearing. Mr. DeYoung was in agreement.
Ms. Frampton added that a full hearing is needed based on Section 5.1 from the Code book, to dismiss even the “appearance” of a conflict of interest. Mr. Vanbuskirk in agreement, stated that part of the code seems to be more demanding.
Ms. Frampton moved to hold a full hearing regarding issues surrounding Mr. Borst.
Mr. DeYoung seconded motion. All were in favor.
Mr. Vanbuskirk addressed the Board in regards to planning the full hearing and who, in terms of witnesses, should be invited to attend. The Board suggested, Mr. Borst, Mr. Smith, Mr. Rogers, Mr. DeLeonardo and Ms. Llodra.
Ms. Frampton suggested for the meeting to be held at the regularly scheduled meeting for December 6, 2007.
Mr. DeYoung moved to adjourn the meeting. All were in favor.
Having no further business or items for discussion, the meeting adjourned at 8:25p.m.
Respectfully Submitted, Cayenne Spremullo, Clerk