A review of a possible violation of the town's code of ethics will be held at town hall thanks to a formal complaint letter submitted to the town council by Windsor resident and former board of education president Rosemarie Miskavitch.
Miskavitch's complaint, citing section 2-26 of the code of ethics, specifically targets the manner in which Deputy Mayor Al Simon sought to gain support for the council's adopted budget the morning of the town-wide referendum.
Section 2-26 concerns conflict of interests, and Miskavitch's complaint, which seeks clarification as to "an act that may constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics of Windsor, states:
"Town Councilor Simon responded to an email stating how specific members of an organization should vote on the recent town budget. He provided information on how some of the money would be spent if the budget passed. He also stated how the specific organization would benefit and state, '... hopefully it is just a beginning.' He provided additional information on the importance of voting and tof 'feel free to pass this to your friends.'"
Miskavitch's complaint continues, seeking answers to three questions:
- Is there a conflict if a town councilor contracts a specific organization, tells them how they should vote, and suggestive future benefit if the members of that specific organization vote as they are told?
- Can any member of the town council, as part of his or her official or unofficial duties, engage in communication that promises suggestive future benefits (form of incentive-based voting) to a select or special interest group if they vote a certain way?
- Is the town councilor's action in conflict with the proper discharge of such official's duties to represent the public interest of the majority of constituents?
Since May, when informal complaints and claims of malfeasance were first levied with regard to Simon's e-mail (), the deputy mayor has presented an unwavering defense of his actions.
"If the contention is there was a conflict of interest in my behavior, it is absolutely false," Simon said Tuesday evening. "I wouldn't be surprised if [the board of ethics] simply refuses to investigate the complaint."
A baseball parent for a decade in town, Simon says he was on the e-mail distribution list, and reached out to the group because he shares their concerns.
"I know the concerns about the fields because I've been out there and [baseball parents] talked to a number of us over the years, and there was finally an opportunity because we had a plan to vote on," Simon added.
The groundwork for investing in baseball field and concessions improvements was laid this past spring when the parent group worked with school administrators on a plan that could be presented to the town council," Simon said.
"We ended up getting the support of the town manager once we had a plan in place, and I wanted to make sure that everybody knew that, and that it was something that would be a part of the plan if the budget got approved," he added in reference to the e-mail.
According to Assistant Town Manager Emily Moon, the board of ethics meets on a quarterly basis, but must meet to address Miskavitch's complaint within 30 days.
The board, according to its handbook, will meet privately (with public notice of the meeting) in order to make a determination on three requirements of probable cause:
- Whether the allegations constitute a violation of the code of ethics;
- Whether there is substantial evidence "to warrant further proceedings;" and
- Whether the circumstances, official or employee "are governed by a collective bargaining agreement, personal employment contract, or other agreement policy... which would take precedence..."
If any of the three requirements have not been met, the board can dismiss the complaint, its handbook states.
Upon the board's determination of probable cause and whether or not a violation of the code has occurred, it must notify the deputy mayor, town manager or town council within three business days.
Minutes of its private meeting will remain confidential if the complaint is dismissed, pending a request by Simon to make the determination public. If it is not dismissed, and the board votes that probable cause requirements have been met, minutes of the meeting will be made public, and the board will proceed to vote and nominate to call upon witnesses and materials for examination in a public hearing to occur within 45 days of the board's vote.
The board of ethics is scheduled to meet Tues., July 10, but it has not been determined whether or not it will review the complaint during that meeting, according to Moon.