Huntington ethics board holds annual public hearing
Campaign finance reform, conflict of interest and term limits were the top issues residents raised at the Town of Huntington's annual ethics board public hearing.
About 20 residents showed up Monday night, with seven of them addressing the board. Huntington Station resident Marie Rendely spoke for nearly an hour, dissecting parts of the Code of Ethics of the Town of Huntington, the document by which the board is governed.
"Sounded like we got some good suggestions," Howard Glickstein, chairman of the board, said after the 6 p.m. meeting at town hall. "The board will review a transcript of what was said here tonight and see the various recommendations that were made and see which ones we agree with and then pass those on to the town board."
Those recommendations included making the meeting later in the evening and having an ethics board made up of random residents selected by lottery.
The volunteer board was created in 1998. It is responsible for rendering opinions in response to complaints and requests by employees and residents on issues ranging from employee complaints to misconduct. The board also reviews financial disclosure statements.
The board is required to have an annual public hearing to receive recommendations on how to improve the town Code of Ethics, and provide a means of education and information for town government officials through seminars.
Since the board was created, about 10 complaints from residents have been filed, according to the board's attorney Jim Matthews.
"This board's mission, goal and purpose is contrary to what we in the public want to see," said Peter Nichols, of Huntington, who added he has filed about eight of those complaints. "We want to see accountability and they are, more or less, running interference."
Usually the ethics board is made up of five members who are appointed by the town board for five-year terms. Currently the number is at four because one member, Roger Ramme, recently resigned to become the town's interim assessor, said town officials. One of Rendely's complaints was that not only is the board down one, but some of the board members' terms also have expired.
"Just because your term has expired doesn't mean your authority has expired," Matthews said. "By state law they continue as holdovers."