Two Ethics Board members needed: panel can't perform without five members

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:57

    WARWICK-The Village of Warwick Ethics Board has an issue to decide — but the process can’t begin until all five seats on this appointed board are filled. Currently, there are three sitting members of the Ethics Board. Another village resident is needed. One member of the board must be either a member of the Village Board or an appointed employee. Trustee George McManus was the Village Board member appointed to the Ethics Board. However, because the issue before the board concerns the truck lease agreement between the village, Ford Motor Credit and Gordon Ford, McManus’s employer, McManus stepped aside for this proceeding. Trustee Roger Metzger was given the nod to take McManus’s place. Now, Mayor Michael Newhard said no one from the Village Board should sit on the board for this matter because it concerns action by the board. Although no one has been appointed yet, Village Clerk Jacque Mongelli has sent a letter to the board requesting appointment to the Ethics Board. Newhard said the village will appoint both members when a resident volunteers. The chairman of the board had been Claude Prevots, who recently resigned for personal reasons. The other members are the Rev. Scott Barker, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church; Robert Demetry; and Mary Goodman. The Ethics Board meets when an issue is referred to it. The board has received a few a letters but it could not be learned at press time how many times the board has met since its creation. According to the village’s Code of Ethics, the Board of Ethics renders advisory opinions to village employees when requested by the employee in writing. It also makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees, upon the trustees’ request, of any amendments to the Code of Ethics. The code states that “the opinions of the Board of Ethics shall be advisory and confidential and in no event shall the identity of the village employee be disclosed except to authorized persons and agencies.” The result from an Ethics Board query is not made public and only released to the Village Board unless the person in question does so on his or her own. It also is not subject to Freedom of Information Law. Newhard said the code was written many years ago for the village to have an Ethics Board but when he took office as mayor, there were no Ethics Board members seated. It was three years ago that he appointed members to that board. At issue is the Village Board’s decision in June 2004 to enter into a lease agreement with Ford Motor Credit for a 2004 Ford F-350 dump truck, a 2004 Ford F-250 Crew Cab with plow and a 2004 Ford F-350 stake body and plow. The village will pay out about $101,000 over the 48-month lease period. This year in June, the board leased two 2005 Ford F350 4X4s with plow, costing just over $58,000 in total over the four-year period. The village did not go out to bid on the projects. Leo Kaytes, owner of Leo Kaytes Ford here in Warwick, notified the mayor after he heard of the 2005 lease agreement, asking why he and other local dealers did not have the opportunity to bid on the leases. Since McManus is employed by the Ford dealership involved, conflict of interest issues have arisen. McManus has not voted on any measures concerning the leases, recusing himself whenever the matter is brought up. Any Village of Warwick residents interested in sitting on the Ethics Board should contact Newhard at Village Hall.