Unanimous decision says replacement of Ethics Board attorney was unethical
The Rotterdam Ethics Board unanimously voted at their Wednesday, Feb. 10, meeting that the replacement of Peter Coffey as the ethics board attorney was a violation of ethics codes.
At the 5 p.m. meeting, the board met to discuss a complaint submitted by town resident Frank Salamone regarding the appointment of Linda Leary as the attorney to the ethics board during the Jan. 1 Town Board organizational meeting.
In a letter from Ethics Board Chairman Michael Pasquarella to Supervisor Frank Del Gallo, Pasquarella questioned the manner in which the Coffey was replaced.
The appointment of the attorney for the board is reviewed on an annual basis, with the Ethics Board advertising and conducting interviews of applicants interested in the position. The Ethics Board then submits three or more names to the Town Board to review before making the final decision.
In its unanimous vote Feb. 10, the Ethis Board indicated the appointment of Leary was in violation of the ethics code, and Coffey was replaced without a proposal to solicit names from other attorneys.
Upon receipt of resumes of any interested parties, the committee will reconvene to review, interview and forward any recommendations to the Town Board for final decision, said Pasquarella in his letter.
In the letter, the chairman also asks that once an attorney has been appointed through the proper channels, the language of the code be reviewed and clarified to stop any future issues.
Del Gallo said that during the Jan. 1 organizational meeting, the new board appointed new attorneys and removed the ones appointed by the previous administration as a part of the transition of the new board. Del Gallo also said that the appointments, including Leary, serve at the pleasure of the town board.
`You have the right to hire who you want to hire,` said Del Gallo. `We’re going to put in whoever we think is qualified for the job.`
Del Gallo also stated that the complaint was against the newest members of the board `Nicki Dileva, Robert Godlewski and Matthew Martin ` and Parisi was left out of the complaint.
Parisi said that he had voted against the appointment at the organizational meeting.
Pasquarella said in his letter that he found the opening and review of the letter from Salamone, intended for the Ethics Board, to be `quite appalling.`
According to Salamone, his letter was sent on Jan. 4, but was not received by the Ethics Board until Feb. 20.
The letter, however, was seen prior to Feb. 20 by several attorneys, including Assistant Town Attorney Michael Godlewski, according to Pasquarella. The attorneys even wrote an opinion regarding the letter.
Del Gallo said that the letter was inadvertenly opened by a Town Hall staffer and reviewed before being sent to the Ethics Board, and he called the incident an `accident.`
`The opening of it could have been an accident,` said Parisi. `But the holding of it for three weeks and writing an opinion from the attorney is not an accident.` “