Michael Fallon addresses the Town Board during its November 21 meeting. Photo by Ali Hibbs / Spotlight News
BETHLEHEM — During the Town Board’s second-to-last meeting of the year, Michael Fallon, interim chair for the town’s Board of Ethics, provided an annual update about the board’s activities.
Prior to Fallon’s presentation, Supervisor John Clarkson pointed out a recent Times Union article investigated the practices of more than 20 Capital District ethics boards and found many meet rarely, if ever, provide little documentation as to their activities and make it difficult to even file complaints. In light of that, said Clarkson, Bethlehem, which the investigation found no complaint with, “should be proud” — and residents should feel they can bring any issues of concern to the Ethics Board, which he characterized as “good and independent.”
Fallon explained that the previous chair, Loretta Simon, resigned her position “due to personal reasons” and that, as the position is for one year and he had served as chair the previous year, it was decided that he would step back into the position until a new chair is formally elected in January.
“It’s been a pretty quiet year,” said Fallon. “We held three meetings this year, in January, April and September. And, as of this date, no complaints or requests for advisory opinions have been submitted.” The board has no plans to meet again until January, he said, unless a complaint or request is brought to its attention.
The board has already begun its search to replace Simon, and members Theresa Schillaci and Michael Hutter, whose terms are set to expire at the end of the year. “My hope is that we will not be in a situation in which there are only two of us left,” said Fallon.
Since its inception in 2012, Fallon gave a recap on the work done by the Ethics Board, including: working with Director of Bethlehem’s Human Resources Department Mary Tremblay-Glassman and her staff to provide training to new town employees; providing information on the town website regarding board meeting times and agendas, as well as directions on how to file complaints or requests; and informing town employees about its existence and function. He did acknowledge the board could have done more to reach out to the public and said that steps had already been taken to do so. (Brochures are currently available at Town Hall and Bethlehem Public Library.)
Without a lot of work in front of the Ethics Board, said Fallon, the mission becomes finding ways to ensure that the community knows it’s there as an important resource.
(Anyone interested in applying for one of the opening positions on the board should contact Robin Nagengast in the Town Supervisor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of this Board are not compensated for their service, must be town residents and should have general knowledge of ethics in the workplace. Community involvement and other information, which applicants believe is relevant for consideration, should also be submitted.
Further information about ethics in Bethlehem is available on the town’s website, www.townofbethlehem.org)