Clifton Park revises ethics law

The Clifton Park Town Board made changes to the town's ethics code at the Monday, Dec. 1, meeting.

The revisions promise to not only tighten restrictions and potential penalties for town employees, but also provide ethics training for all town, planning and zoning board members, department heads and bureau directors every two years.

We've taken what was a good ethics code here in Clifton Park and made it even better, said Councilman Scott Hughes, who headed up the effort to revise the law. "I think these are common sense provisions, and they make it much stronger."

The updated code prevents the hiring of the immediate family of Town Board members for full-time positions; excludes town employees from bidding on surplus items the town puts up for sale; and lengthens a ban on political party officers taking appointed positions within the town from one to two years to match the election cycle.

In addition, Town Board members will be prohibited from appearing before the town on behalf of another person or company for two years after leaving office in an effort to control "revolving door" lobbying efforts.

Though the relatives of town board members are the only ones restricted, as the entity approving all hirings, the town board will be able to hold other elected officials to the same standards.

A revised penalty structure would allow for a measured response for violations, from written reprimands all the way up to termination. Penalties would ultimately be enacted by the town board.

Hughes' efforts were praised by the rest of the town board, who unanimously voted to adopt the changes.

"I've sat up here for 16 years now and we've had the same code of ethics for those 16 years until Councilman Hughes took it upon himself to look at what we had and make some significant changes, all changes which make a better code of ethics" said Councilman Sanford Roth.

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