GLENVILLE — A controversial proposal to change the town’s ethics law that would restrict town employees from holding jobs with other governments if it could create a conflict of interest has been tabled for reworking.
The proposal has been criticized by Democrats, including the two who are in the minority on the Town Board, as an effort to keep people who may have a municipal job in another community from running for political office in Glenville.
In anticipation of a Town Board workshop next week, a revised proposal circulated Friday by Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle establishes a way of dealing with a conflict other than prohibiting people from having a conflict.
The revision states that an employee or officer holder “shall recuse him/herself from discussing and/or voting on the matter under consideration. The Town Employee shall disclose in writing to the Board of Ethics the nature of the interest when the interest first comes before the Town Employee or when s/he acquires knowledge of the interest, whichever is earlier.”
The Republicans raised the issue of possible conflict last year when Scotia Superintendent of Public Works Andrew Kohout was a Democratic candidate for Town Board. Now, Democratic Town Board member Michael Godlewski, who is a staff attorney with the Schenectady County Attorney’s Office, has expressed concern that the issue could be raised against him when he is up for re-election in 2021.
A public hearing on the proposal was held at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, but just two people spoke briefly. Koetzle said before the meeting that the proposal was going to be reworked in response to criticism, and the meeting was taking place with large swarths of the town without power after the brief but intense storm that passed through the Capital Region late Wednesday afternoon.
If the revised proposal is approved by the Town Board at Wednesday’s workshop meeting, there would be another public hearing. The three board Republicans who have so far backed the proposed change say it has been mischaracterized as election-related.
“The town of Glenville does not have the power to tell anyone they can’t run for office,” Koetzle said.
Scotia Village Trustee George Solotruck, a Democrat and one of the speakers at the public hearing, said he thinks the determination about whether any municipal employee has a conflict of interest should be left to an impartial Ethics Board, rather than being made by the Town Board after receiving an opinion from the Ethics Board.
The proposed change to the town’s decade-old ethics law would prohibit town employees, including elected officials, from holding a job with a municipality “that does business” with the town of Glenville if it would create a conflict of interest.