In a packed Town Hall meeting room Tuesday evening, the board of ethics dismissed , voting unanimously in favor of a lack of probable cause in the case.
The unanimous determination was made on the grounds that no board member was able to identify a conflict of interest regarding an email Simon sent to baseball parents encouraging them to vote in favor of the town budget and touting the existence of funds within the budget that have been allocated for baseball field improvements.
Prior to voting, board members expressed their individual opinions of the complaint with regard to Simon's email, and each member produced the same opinion; no one on the four-member board believed Simon had anything to gain, other than support on a political issue.
In particular, the board interpreted the town's conflict of interest code to imply that one would have to stand to gain financial benefits to be in violation.
The conflict of interest code, section 2-26, which is based on a similar state statute, reads:
No town official or employee shall accept any employment or have any interest, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature which is in conflict with the proper discharge of such official's or employee's duties in the public interest or which will impair such official's or employees independence of judgement or action in the performance of official duties.
"If Mr. Simon were to receive a commission or some employment favors from an athletic contract because he successfully caused the town to spend money for the benefit of that contractor, that, to me, would be an example of a conflict of interest that's within the scope of this section and the code as a whole," said Board of Ethics Chairman Tim Fitzgerald.
"So I'm having a very hard time accepting the notion that somebody's advocacy, either for the success or the defeat of a budget or any other political question — and even if it's direct contact with voters — that's, in a large measure, the discharge of an official's job."
Although the board's decision on a conflict of interest was based on their finding that Simon stood no financial gain in encouraging support for the town council's budget, the complaint, filed by Windsor resident and former Board of Education President Rosemarie Miskavitch, made no reference to the potential for financial economic gains.
Miskavitch's complaint questioned whether or not Simon violated the conflict of interest code when he sought to gain support for the budget by telling members of a particular group how they would benefit from the budget's passing, and saying he hopes support for similar projects would be financially supported by the town in the future.
Her complaints, Fitzgerald said, are political and not ethical; and, therefore, "the board has not choice but to dismiss the complaint."
Board member Sandy Thompson agreed, saying, "We're here for ethics, but if you're not seeing this as an ethical problem and it is a political problem then it has to go elsewhere, not with us."
"They were pointing to financial gain. That's not the case she was bringing," said Bill Miskavitch, husband of the complainant. "The code doesn't even mention financial gain, it references personal interest."
Despite the outcome, Rosemarie Miskavitch said she was "very pleased with the process and the procedures."
Although she was displeased with the inability to submit evidence at the meeting (she was prepared to present her evidence of probable cause), she doesn't believe the board's finding represents a loss for Windsor residents.
"I do believe issues of this nature help individuals who are serving the residents," Miskavitch said. "...it can only help them be better public servants to the community.
"I'm very happy they heard this (complaint) and arrived at a decision. It's important that Deputy Mayor Simon reflect on what has happened and how he can better serve the people of Windsor."
The board will publish its findings, and minutes of the meeting, which was made public at Simon's request, will be made public.