Legislators review ethics policy

by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee reviewed a draft ethics policy that will eventually be the subject of a public hearing.

Legislator Milferd Potter said he had some concerns with the policy when it came up for discussion during Monday’s meeting.

“I think we are being a little bit tough on elected officials,” he said.

A part of the draft law prohibits legislators from taking a county job for two years.

“I don’t think we need to be more strict on this than what the state law requires,” Potter said. “I don’t think we should have a two year wait.”

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler asked what the state law provides. The county must follow the state’s ethics code and can add more but cannot subtract from.

“I don’t think it needs to be in there,” Potter said.

County Attorney Richard Mitchell said the clause applies more to vendors.

A discussion ensued as to vendor relationships and whether anyone covered under the policy cannot do personal business with the vendor.

Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley used Legislator Doug Malone as an example. Malone owns an automotive repair shop and if a county vendor needed a tire repaired and they were down the street from Malone’s shop,  Malone would not be able to fix the tire, Beardsley said.

Malone said he cannot tow vehicles or work for the county and spoke about work he performed more than a decade ago that he was not allowed to receive payment for because of the conflict-of-interest.

The county had also been sued in the past by a group of taxpayers who objected to the county doing business with employees who own businesses.

There was uncertainty as to how the county’s policy addressed the issue.

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