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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Opinions > Guest Editorial

Mamakating Ethics Board

Jan 30, 2020

By Janet Lybolt - town of mamakating supervisor

It is important that the public is made aware of the role of the Ethics Board in the Town of Mamakating. First, Mamakating's Ethics Board Code of Ethics was entirely based on the Sullivan County Code of Ethics. Second, Mamakating's Ethics Board was never meant to be an investigative body. The Ethics Board does not work to uncover issues; it investigates issues brought before it.
The current Town Board is not doing away with the people's ability to report a perceived ethical issue within the government. The Town Board is returning the responsibility of investigating ethical complaints to the County.

In accordance with State General Municipal Law §808, the Sullivan County Board of Ethics shall serve as the Board of Ethics for the Town of Mamakating.
The Town Board believes that the further removed the Ethics Board is from a perceived ethics violation, the more likely it is to be as impartial as possible. There is a far greater chance that one or more of the members of a local board will either know or have some relationship with the person making an ethics complaint or the person or persons accused of unethical actions.
If the Ethics Board is so crucial to the Town of Mamakating, then why didn't the former Town Board fill the three out of five vacant board seats nine months ago? This Board did not have enough members for a quorum and could not have acted on any perceived violation reported.
Why was it so crucial to fill vacant seats on all of the Town Boards in the eleventh hour as the former supervisor and town board were leaving office? Another example is that the Planning Board had a vacant seat since June 13, 2019 and had no alternate board members in place for over a year.
In at least one instance in 2019, the Planning Board was unable to conduct scheduled town business for an applicant as it did not have a quorum due to vacancies not being filled by the previous Town Board.
It was quoted in another local newspaper that “the ‘old guard' may now become the loyal opposition ...”
The Ethics Board is not the place for opposition rather it is exactly the setting for impartiality.
Examples of past Mamakating Supervisors and government officials acting unethically have been brought forward as a valid reason why we should have a local Ethics Board. It has been posted on the internet that the current board must have something to hide.
The voters of Mamakating should not be held hostage to the past.
The people clearly voted for a new future and a new path forward. If the voters wanted to keep the status quo then they would have voted for “the loyal opposition”.
Our newly elected Town Board has nothing to hide.
Our Town will still be governed by our Mamakating Code of Ethics. Should the local board be dissolved, any ethics violations will again be handled at the County level which will provide the highest level of impartiality.

Janet Lybolt is Supervisor in the Town of Mamakating. A public hearing will be held at Town Hall on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. to discuss returning the responsibility of investigating ethical complaints to Sullivan County government.





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