The Ulster Town Board will take comments Thursday on a proposed revision to the town Ethics Law would that replace a version adopted 42 years ago.Pretty neat, huh? This "ethics" law would be entirely under the purview of political hacks controlled by Quigley, who already pulls all the levers in the ToU. Just swell.
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Under the proposed law, elected officials and town employees will be required to file an annual disclosure statement beginning 120 days after adoption of the policy. They’s be required to provide information about any direct or indirect interest in any matter being considered by the town.”
The annual disclosure statement would not be available to the public unless the town Board of Ethics determines that a “conflict of interest or other impropriety exists and only after the affected municipal officer or municipal employee has received written notice ... and been provided a 21-day period to respond.”
The Freeman, however, did a little digging and managed to get a quote out of Robert Freeman (with that last name, you'd think the staff would have him on speed dial), head of the NY State Committee on Open Government:
Robert Freeman, the executive director of the State Committee on Open Government, said the provision that deals with releasing information is at odds with the state Freedom of Information Law.Quigley's spin is that his little "ethics" law is the fulfillment of a campaign promise, which is how he tried to sell it to the newspaper. What the law really does is give Quigley a chance to see his name in the paper again, something that he needs to keep up for the next couple of years if he's going to run against Mike Hein.
“They can’t do that, because it would conflict with a state statute,” Freeman said. “The state statute determines what is public and what is not. A local law cannot diminish what would otherwise be available under FOIL (Freedom of Information Law).”
Freeman said the proposed 21-day waiting period would also conflict with state regulations on access to information.
“The individual’s whim does not determine what is public and what is not,” he said. “Many financial disclosure forms include the ability for an individual to earmark those portions which he or she believes have no material bearing upon the performance of duties.”
And the Freeman (newspaper) did a good job on this story by taking the time to find and quote someone who has some actual expertise in this area. Maybe Quigley could consult with the NY State Committee on Open Government when it comes to making the changes needed in order to comply with state law. Just a thought.