Ethics commission offers new opinion


SOUTHWICK – The State Ethics Commission has rendered another opinion on conflicts of interest for Selectwoman Tracy Cesan.
This time, the opinion removes a previous restriction placed on Cesan, who serves as both a town employee and a member of the Southwick Board of Selectmen.
General Counsel Deirdre Roney ruled in a Dec. 12 letter that Cesan could participate in evaluating Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart and she is also able to vote on his reappointment.
Selectboard Chairman Arthur Pinell said this morning that he received a copy of the letter today and has not had n opportunity to review it.
“The board needs a chance to review it and speak to counsel about it,” said Pinell.  “I anticipate we will be discussing it at a very near future meeting with the entire board.”
Roney came to the conclusion after reviewing a letter from Attorney Dimitrios Moschos and materials submitted by Cesan.
Roney sad there are precedents that would prohibit Cesan from participating in Stinehart’s performance evaluation and reappointment if he had “direct, immediate power to decide pending matters in which Ms. Cesan has a financial interest,”
Roney said that based on materials supplied from both sides, “it does not appear that he does.”
“Ms. Cesan states that Mr. Stinehart does not set her wages, has no firing or hiring power, has no disciplinary power over her position, and is not a party to her performance reviews. [Moschos’]  opinion of June 19, 2012 lists various powers of Mr. Stinehart as CAO . . . but you do not state that there is any ongoing negotiation or other live issues involving Ms. Cesan’s financial interests over which Mr. Stinehart has decisional power. That being the case, Ms. Cesan is not required by Section 19 to abstain from participating,” states Roney.
Roney further said she recommends Cesan file a written disclosure with the town clerk with respect to her position as administrative assistant at the fire department if she has not done so already. She also offered her personal advice on the ongoing contention of the board.
“The adversarial tone of some of the materials submitted to me prompts me to express the hope that all involved in this matter can endeavor to put aside their personal differences and work for the good of the town,” Roney wrote.
The board’s next meeting is set for Thursday, Jan. 3.

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