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Ethics talks flare up

Discussions of two ethics complaints now before the town board heated up a recent meeting of the Malta Town Board.

Proposed changes in Malta town ethics laws and in the Malta employee manual stoked the already flaring tempers among town board members and Supervisor Paul Sausville Monday night, Feb. 4.

Amicable start

The board meeting, with its signature lengthy agenda packed with presentations and public hearings, began amicably with a pre-meeting workshop that brought board members to one common table to review proposed changes to the town's ethics law. With two current ethics complaints now before the board, both lodged against Sausville, discussions focused on who should comprise the ethics review committee, and how to keep partisan issues out of the mix.

The draft calls for changes including disallowing town elected officials, employees, or officers in any political party to serve on the five-member ethics review committee. Clarifying the committee's authority was also key to the discussion.

Right now, the ethics board is an advisory board giving an opinion back to the town board, which has the authority to act, said Council Member Peter Klotz.

Other specific questions raised included if the ethics committee has the power to subpoena witnesses for a case they're investigating, and what the punishment would be for someone refusing to testify. The board did not get through the entire draft Monday night. Town Attorney Tom Peterson said he would review legal terms for the board to continue its review this month.

Town's employee manual becomes key to complaints

The first complaint against Sausville, lodged Oct. 1, by eight town residents and given confidentially to the town board by Ann Klotz, spouse of council member Peter Klotz, asked the board to review Sausville's public support of Republican candidate Tara Thomas for town council. In a Sept. 6 letter to the editor of The Ballston Journal, Sausville wrote his support of Thomas. The complaint alleges Sausville strategized the endorsement on town time, and used his position as supervisor to ask residents to join him in voting for Thomas.

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