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Group argues for reform to Milton ethics code

A contingent of Milton residents is attempting to build momentum to affect a change in the town's ethics code that would prohibit town employees from sitting on political councils.

The Responsible Government for Milton Group is expected to present a petition with about 150 signatures to the Milton Town Board at its Wednesday, April 22, meeting, after The Spotlight went to press.

Members of the group said the petition is an effort to increase accessibility to the town's government. Political committees make election endorsements that tend to be vital to winning a Democrat or Republican primary.

We feel it's a conflict of interest, when they go to endorse candidates for office, employees on the committee might feel threatened, said Laura Flint, treasurer for the group. "They might be afraid of losing their jobs."

The petition applies to all political committees, said group member Michael Traver, but Milton government is heavily Republican, and that's where the concerns started.

"[Highway Superintendent] Dave Forbes, he has members of his own staff as committee members," said Traver. "Guess who those guys are going to vote for."

The Milton GOP is made up of 28 members, two for each of the town's districts. Traver served for District 1 in 2006-2007.

The petition also asks the town to "address the issue of nepotism, conflicts of interest, disclosures," and to bar town employees from the ethics board itself. The group would like to see restrictions placed on personal gain from town business through regulations similar to those that apply to state legislators.

Traver said Responsible Government for Milton has identified five cases of nepotistic relationships through family ties in town government.

John Romano, chair of the Milton Republican Committee and mayor of Ballston Spa, said that the committee will be interviewing candidates for the 2009 election on May 5 and will announce its endorsements shortly thereafter.

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