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Board of Ethics Members Cheat City Charter?

Shelton resident Chris Panek ponders the party affiliations of the Board of Ethics members.

At the Board of Aldermen meeting on December 8, the Board unanimously agreed on appointing a subcommittee of members to continue working on ’s Code of Ethics. Also discussed but not listed on the agenda (it was put under “President’s Report”) was an interesting “maneuver” regarding the make up of our Board of Ethics which merits further discussion.

Shelton’s city charter requires that the three appointed members of the Board of Ethics consist of one Republican, one Democrat and one unaffiliated representative. This seemingly would keep all things even and hopefully keep political philosophies from entangling the ethics process.

There was a vacancy on Shelton’s Board of Ethics and back in June the Board of Aldermen appointed a new member. The member that left the Board of Ethics was the unaffiliated member. So the Aldermen needed to appoint another unaffiliated member to the position. The Mayor recommended a Republican for the position and the Aldermen approved it leaving the Board of Ethics with one Democrat and two Republicans and in violation of the city charter. Was it just a simple oversight?

So the Aldermen needed to fix this. Logical reasoning would tell you that the fix was simple, find an unaffiliated person to take the open position. But instead what happened simply amazed me. One of the Republicans on the Board of Ethics changed their party affiliation to unaffiliated in order to meet the charter requirements. Now of course there is nothing wrong with someone changing their party affiliation but to do it as a current sitting Ethics board member just to meet a charter required mandate certainly peaks my curiosity.

While I am sure all three current members will do their best to serve the public’s interests it is hard to fathom that someone who is registered with a political party and almost certainly shares that party’s beliefs (hence they are registered with the party) all of a sudden changes their party affiliation and now can represent the position of the unaffiliated position on our Board of Ethics. It certainly appears on the surface to be a quick and easy way to circumvent the city charter. How would Shelton voters like it if our mayor changed his party affiliation to Democrat the day after the election? The answer to that should be easy to figure out.

Everyone is entitled to their own political philosophies and opinions on issues facing our city. We can all debate and at the end of the day agree to disagree on things. But there is a reason our charter stipulates the make up of the Board of Ethics. The decision made here seems to be the easiest way to bypass the very reason our charter reads how it does. It stinks of politics invading what should be a non-political board in our city.

Chris Panek

Shelton, CT

Danielle A. Elwood January 04, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I think whoever changed their affiliation to meet the requirements should lose their seat on this committee. It is completely UNETHICAL what they did, yet they are supposed to be overlooking ETHICS in the city? One word...FAIL!
Fred January 04, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Why isn't the State Attorney General involved with this?
Leah Salomoni (Editor) January 04, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Thank you for your comments on the site and Shelton Patch Facebook page. Please continue to send in your thoughts, as I have contacted the mayor's office for a response to this letter.
Bryan Lizotte January 13, 2012 at 06:48 AM
Why did the mayor appoint a republican in the first place, when it was an unaffliated member that left yhe board?

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