Welcome To The Easton Massachusetts Discussion Forum
EastonMass.com
Now In Our 18th Year!
Thank you for using EastonMass.com! - Burt Lewis




Monday Nights 7 to 8 PM Live EastonMass.com TV Internet Streaming
Watch Here!
Rebroadcast of Our Latest EastonMass.com TV Show
With Bureau of Selectmen Chairman, Dan Murphy
Monday July 28, 2014

Live streaming video by Ustream

EastonMass.com
EastonMass.com
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
 All Forums
 Easton Issues and Discussions
 Town Boards, Committees and Town Departments
 ZBA chairman conflict of interest controversy

Note: You must be registered in order to post a reply.
To register, click here. Registration is FREE!

Screensize:
UserName:
Password:
Format Mode:
Format: BoldItalicizedUnderlineStrikethrough Align LeftCenteredAlign Right Horizontal Rule Insert HyperlinkInsert EmailInsert Image Insert CodeInsert QuoteInsert List
   
Message:

Smilies
 Big Smile [bg] Angel [ag] Anyone [an] Back Flip [flip]
Bad idea [bi] Bang Head [bang] Barbecue [bb] Bathroom [bath]
Big Dance [bd] Bike [bike] Birthday [bday] Bowing [nw]
Camera [cam] Chicken [ck] Chill Pill [chill] Clap [clap]
cop [cop] Cup Cake [cc] Debate [db] Drink [dr]
Flag [fg] Food [fd] Frisbee [fris] Happy Fourth [fth]
Happy New Year [newyear] Hot Dog [hd] Huh [hu] I wrong [iwrg]
Ice [ice] Idea [idea] Link [link] Link [ln]
Lipstick [lip] Moon Walk [mw] OMG [omg] PC User [pcuser]
Pickle1 [pb1] Pray [pr] Pull hair [ph] rOLLING [RL]
Shocked [shock] Sleep [sleep] Slot [slot] St. Pats [stpat]
Surf [surf] Sushi [sushi] Take a bow [bow1] tennis [tennis]
Thanks [tks] Thanks [ty] Thumbs Down [td] Thumbs Up [th]
TV [tv] Violin [vi] Vote [vt] Vote For Me [vtme]
Welcome [wm]      

   -  HTML is OFF | Forum Code is ON
   Insert an Image File

Check here to subscribe to this topic.
   

T O P I C    R E V I E W
Burt Posted - 09/25/2013 : 6:22:10 PM
Easton board backs ZBA chairman despite conflict

quote:
...Selectmen said they believed Walter Mirrione, longtime zoning board of appeals chairman, would be unbiased is his decision on the Williams Street 40B, even though his sister could financially benefit from its approval...


Read more: Easton board backs ZBA chairman despite conflict - Easton, MA - Easton Journal http://www.wickedlocal.com/easton/news/x1868843395/Easton-board-backs-ZBA-chairman-despite-conflict#ixzz2fwhQ2Z1b
Follow us: @WickedLocal on Twitter | 119311408344 on Facebook
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Burt Posted - 10/03/2013 : 4:32:17 PM
Interesting item on next weeks's BOS Agenda:

--Selectmen’s Agenda Scheduling Policy
Tony Posted - 10/03/2013 : 08:59:46 AM
Disclosure is the responsibility of the participant ....

When the conflict began is an inference based on the facts, and acknowledged by Town Council.
Burt Posted - 10/02/2013 : 8:36:30 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Tony

Issues that are not in dispute:
1. The conflict began from day one of the hearings, not at any other point in time...


Why didn't you file an official complaint when the hearings began if you were aware of it from day one?
Tony Posted - 10/02/2013 : 6:45:24 PM
Issues that are not in dispute:
1. The conflict began from day one of the hearings, not at any other point in time.
2. There was no formal disclosure prior to the hearings, as is required.
3. The appointing board was only recently notified, after one year of hearings.
4. An outside party notified Town Council of the conflict of interest violation.

Issues in dispute:
1. That there was an oral disclosure and that it has any legal weight. The nature of this disclosure has not been revealed.
2. That the appointing board (BOS) has any authority to support participation, considering the circumstances as outlined above.
3. That the proceedings are tainted and, at minimum, the chairman's vote will be negated on appeal.

I have a always had a great deal of respect for Walter Mirrione. He's a strong leader, and volunteered a great deal of his time to public service. But this is a case that has been a mess from day one. Many good people sucked into the unfortunate situation of dealing with a developer trying to shove a a ridiculous project down our throats in the name of affordable housing. It's no wonder bad stuff happens, time and money gets wasted, and people get hurt. But, I didn't create this game ... All I know is we need to win, because its the right thing to do. Thanks to so many people for their support. SAVE WILLIAMS STREET!!



Burt Posted - 10/02/2013 : 2:47:40 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Sunnyday

Yes this is true but you need to post your agenda items 48 hours in advance unless they are considered to be emergency in nature. Which again points back to my original questions of "when this became an emergency item that could not be posted in advance" and does this mean it violated Open Meeting Law?


Listening to the tape, seems that a disclosure form was received but it's not stated when it was received.
Sunnyday Posted - 10/02/2013 : 1:59:22 PM
Yes this is true but you need to post your agenda items 48 hours in advance unless they are considered to be emergency in nature. Which again points back to my original questions of "when this became an emergency item that could not be posted in advance" and does this mean it violated Open Meeting Law?
JerseySurf Posted - 10/02/2013 : 11:06:46 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Burt

quote:
Originally posted by ek1

It's interesting to note that three residents of Williams Street were at the BOS meeting for another agenda item but not informed by the board that an emergency agenda item would come up shortly after they left the meeting. Would it have been appropriate to bring the emergency item up before they left the building so they could participate in the discussion?



From The Attorney General's Open Meeting Law Guide:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/attorney-generals-open-meeting-law-guide.html#Requirements-Post

quote:
What are the requirements for posting notice of meetings?

Except in cases of emergency, a public body must provide the public with notice of its meeting 48 hours in advance, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. Notice of emergency meetings must be posted as soon as reasonably possible prior to the meeting. Also note that other laws, such as those governing procedures for public hearings, may require additional notice.


Looks like this is the key to your answer:
Notice of emergency meetings must be posted as soon as reasonably possible prior to the meeting.

Was it posted at all?



It was NOT an emergency meeting. It was a regularly scheduled meeting in which an emergency agenda item was raised.
Burt Posted - 10/02/2013 : 08:05:30 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Sunnyday
...As for the town lawyer:
"I am reluctant to make a recommendation because it is your hands..."

Really? Reluctant to give your opinion or recommendation? Is this what we want for guidance on these types of issues?...


If he charged for his time to attend that meeting, which he probably did, I would demand a refund. Who ever heard of an attorney saying they are reluctant to make a recommendation to a paying client? I'd fire him, but they all seem to be on a first name buddy buddy relationship.
Sunnyday Posted - 10/02/2013 : 07:04:41 AM
Wow I am surprised with all of this information and a bit disappointed. If there were people there from Williams Street the BOS had to know about it and they probably decided it was "easier" to not inform them of the upcoming "emergency item".

As for the town lawyer:
"I am reluctant to make a recommendation because it is your hands..."

Really? Reluctant to give your opinion or recommendation? Is this what we want for guidance on these types of issues? Well it is obviously what SOME people in this town want as guidance, as it apparently fits their agenda.....................

This whole thing is way out of whack and should not even be an issue right now if things were just done properly to begin with.

Ask yourself this question:

How many other issues such a this that we as citizens really do not know fully about are get handled in this manner? Not just on the BOS and ZBA but throughout the town? If there were not organized people against this who would have been informed?? Scary, scary thought.

Burt Posted - 10/02/2013 : 06:53:01 AM
quote:
Originally posted by ek1

It's interesting to note that three residents of Williams Street were at the BOS meeting for another agenda item but not informed by the board that an emergency agenda item would come up shortly after they left the meeting. Would it have been appropriate to bring the emergency item up before they left the building so they could participate in the discussion?



From The Attorney General's Open Meeting Law Guide:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/attorney-generals-open-meeting-law-guide.html#Requirements-Post

quote:
What are the requirements for posting notice of meetings?

Except in cases of emergency, a public body must provide the public with notice of its meeting 48 hours in advance, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. Notice of emergency meetings must be posted as soon as reasonably possible prior to the meeting. Also note that other laws, such as those governing procedures for public hearings, may require additional notice.


Looks like this is the key to your answer:
Notice of emergency meetings must be posted as soon as reasonably possible prior to the meeting.

Was it posted at all?
ek1 Posted - 10/01/2013 : 10:52:20 PM
It's interesting to note that three residents of Williams Street were at the BOS meeting for another agenda item but not informed by the board that an emergency agenda item would come up shortly after they left the meeting. Would it have been appropriate to bring the emergency item up before they left the building so they could participate in the discussion?
Burt Posted - 10/01/2013 : 6:09:02 PM
I think we might have another conflict folks. Seems that Walter Mirrione was a 2112 financial contributor to Dan Murphy's State Rep. campaign. Seems to be a bit of a voting conflict there?

http://www.efs.cpf.state.ma.us/PrintFullReport.aspx?reportId=157376
Burt Posted - 10/01/2013 : 4:17:53 PM
What really gets me is this. Dan Smith asked Town Counsel Talerman what his recommendation was.

Town Counsel Talerman who the tax payers are paying plenty of money to, says this.

"I am reluctant to make a recommendation because it is your hands..."

Burt Posted - 10/01/2013 : 4:06:05 PM
I just listened to the tape again.

From the mouth of Town Counsel Talerman, "...he has a finacial interest..."
eastonunites Posted - 10/01/2013 : 11:39:42 AM
When one watches the video, it is obvious that the Town Administrator and BOS Clerk were attempting, successfully, to sway the others. There can be a lot of pressure in that room. The Selectmen know that the public is not happy with their decision, we know this because they read and contribute to this very forum. We often hear from boards that they want to hear from the public, well they have and the tool available to them is the motion to rescind. The next selectmen's meeting is on 10/7.
"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." - Maggie Kuhn
VillageFan Posted - 10/01/2013 : 08:22:39 AM
Another question to be considered: what is the risk if Mr. Mirrione recuses himself vs. what is the risk if he does not? It would seem the higher risk scenario is NOT recusing himself, so why wouldn't he proceed down the lower risk path? Is there something to gain?
Sunnyday Posted - 10/01/2013 : 08:06:05 AM
I have to agree with Tony on this one, as soon as this became an issue this should have been brought to the town in writing not "verbally early in the process" but in writing early in the process, like whenever anyone thought this issue was going down this road. That is clear in the conflict of interest laws.

So the questions are simple:
1) When did the project change and become a possible conflict for the Chair? At least a month ago or more as the minutes of the 8/26 BOS meeting discuss it at length but they do NOT discuss the possible conflict which means it was probably not submitted in writing at this point. I think it should have been.

2) If the conflict of interest laws state that there should be a "public meeting" and we knew about the conflict a good month or so ago why did it take so long to have the public meeting and why was it not posted on the Agenda? The only think I can think of is the "submitted in writing part" was very late on the ZBA Chairs part and there was "no time" to put in on the agenda?

Which again brings up the question why was it so late? And was it so late that there was no time to "re-post the BOS agenda to reflect this discussion"? How could this have been an emergency discussion? Was it an emergency or did the BOS just not post it on their agenda and if that is the case why would they do that?

I do not claim to know everything about this particular subject so I am sure there are some basic answers to these questions that will support either argument. These are just the questions that come to mind.
Tony Posted - 09/30/2013 : 4:50:43 PM
Hi mark
The conflict was raised by an opponent to the project to Town councel about a month ago. It was brought to the selectman as a non agenda "emergency" item last week. I guess someone involved needed so much time to think about the issue it could not be put on the agenda. During the BOS discussion Town councel tells the board a story about why the conflict issue was raised. He also acknowledged that the conflict existed despite this story.
My point is the story is not important. Mr. Mirrione's duty was to raise the conflict prior to his participation. That cannot be changed. Conflicts of interst exist between parties. A change of events, like what you describe, will not change the existence of a conflict if the parties involved remain the same. It is true that the degree of financial interest can change. You may believe it did in this case. But, that is why officials need to recuse from day one. You want to remove any question of partiality from the proceeding ... As Ellen points out, perception is the critical issue . Everyone knows instinctually what conflict of interest is. It's very simple, and the depth of it does not matter to most when it concerns public officials.

marktun Posted - 09/30/2013 : 3:29:09 PM
Ellen,

Never thought you were anything but objective. :)


Hello Tony,

Thank you for the conflict citation.

I was under the impression that the conflict did not arise for quite some time in this lengthy process because the developer made a decision well after the process was under consideration relative to his intentions vis-à-vis the sale of the units, deciding to give first dibs to existing tenants, or words to that effect. If I understand correctly, that was the point at which, once disclosed to the board, that Mr. Mirrone had an obligation to act, taking it to his appointing authority. And that just what he did.

Sounds like he advised town council of the possibility of an appearance of conflict well before that time, knowing his sister resided there, but with no opportunity for financial gain for her at that point, there was no reason for him not to participate from the get go.

If that decision took place, say, several months into things (say, while the developer was submitting plans & info), then there would be no reason to recuse or notify up until that point that the developer made that decision, because there was no financial interest.

I look forward to any additional factual information but based on what I see.......Barking. Wrong. Tree.

Best,

Mark
Tony Posted - 09/30/2013 : 11:30:59 AM
This is the law as best I can determine. Note section b addresses the BOS involvement. Disclosure must be given " in advance" of participation. It does not mean in advance of the next meeting, one year into the proceeding, and after an outside party disclosed it first.



§ 19. Municipal employees,
relatives or associates; financial interest in particular
matter



(a) Except as permitted by paragraph (b), a
municipal employee who participates as such an employee in a particular matter
in which to his knowledge he, his immediate family or partner, a business
organization in which he is serving as officer, director, trustee, partner or
employee, or any person or organization with whom he is negotiating or has any
arrangement concerning prospective employment, has a financial interest, shall
be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment in the state
prison for not more than 5 years, or in a jail or house of correction for not
more than 2 1/2 years, or both.

(b) It shall not be a violation of this
section (1) if the municipal employee first advises the official responsible for
appointment to his position of the nature and circumstances of the particular
matter and makes full disclosure of such financial interest, and receives in
advance a written determination made by that official that the interest is not
so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services
which the municipality may expect from the employee, or (2) if, in the case of
an elected municipal official making demand bank deposits of municipal funds,
said official first files, with the clerk of the city or town, a statement
making full disclosure of such financial interest, or (3) if the particular
matter involves a determination of general policy and the interest of the
municipal employee or members of his immediate family is shared with a
substantial segment of the population of the municipality.

EastonMass.com © 2000-02 Snitz Communications Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.36 seconds. Snitz Forums 2000