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Letter: Paper trail in Huntington ethics

Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson talks about his

Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson talks about his business ties to Gary Melius in his Huntington office Aug. 27, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Newsday provides insight on the real workings of local government ["Ties weren't disclosed," News, Nov. 3 and "Huntington ethics probe to be sought," News, Nov. 4].

There's money in them thar elected, official and lobbying positions. This town's ethics board is effective only when it is used as a hammer against the opponents of the people in power. Before Huntington Councilman Eugene Cook pursued a call to the feds to investigate "allegations of unethical practices" against town board members, the ethics board and its legal counsel, he should simply have filed requests under the Freedom of Information Law for two things, both of which should be readily retrievable in Town Hall.

One is the disclosure from Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius that should have been filed with an application for a change of zone for a condominium development. The second is the financial disclosure of Robert Fonti, a property management consultant for the town and chairman of the Huntington Housing Authority. Such a disclosure is required to be filed annually by a town employee or elected official.

Disclosure is a two-way street. Both documents should refer to town board member Mark Cuthbertson, a lawyer who has done work with Melius and Fonti. If they do, Cuthbertson should be in trouble for voting on matters related to Melius and Fonti. If they don't, all three men are involved in trying to hide relationships.

John Condon, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer was a deputy director of the Huntington Planning Department from 1986 to 1998 and served on the town's Board of Assessment Review from 1999 to 2004.