Niskayuna Ethics Board told to not comment on complaints

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NISKAYUNA — Members of the Niskayuna Ethics Board have been instructed not to discuss ethics complaints under review and instead must direct inquiries to Paul Briggs, the town attorney.

After the board reviewed complaints Wednesday against town board member Denise Murphy McGraw, the Ethics Board’s spokesman —  Briggs — did not return requests for comment.

The board, which met at 8 a.m. Wednesday, reviewed a number of complaints, including two against McGraw.

None of the complaints or the board’s decisions concerning those complaints were made public Wednesday.

The town is implementing a new policy, Rabbi Matthew Cutler, the Ethics Board’s president, said during a phone conversation after the meeting. Cutler couldn’t be reached for additional comment regarding the new policy.

Town Board member-elect Jason Moskowitz filed one of the complaints concerning McGraw, whom he said violated the town’s code of ethics when she voted yes on a resolution that included hiring her daughter as a town pool employee this summer. 

The other complaint, which was filed by resident Steve Benton, alleges McGraw was involved in abruptly ending a contract for the use of town soccer fields by Firestorm FC because of her friendship with the president of the Niskayuna Soccer Club, which also wanted to use the playing fields. 

Benton was notified after the meeting Wednesday that he needed to resubmit his complaint to the town using the proper complaint form available on the town’s website. Benton, who received an email from Cutler on the matter, said he was frustrated, and asked why the board had not notified him before the meeting that he needed to submit a particular form.

“This is why people in Niskayuna are so upset,” Benton said. “There is no transparency.” 

He criticized what he said is a lack of leadership in Niskayuna and questioned whether any improvements will be made after the new board takes office in January. A third party should come in and investigate the town, he said.  

“We need to do a full report on everything,” he said. 

During the meeting, Cutler also announced he would be resigning from his seat at the end of the year due to time commitment issues. 

At the end of October, the town board named three alternates to the Ethics Board after concerns were raised about Ethics Board members Jill LaFlamme’s and Tracy Cazer’s relationship with McGraw.

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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