At the April 15 town board meeting, Bob Litzenberg inquired about the status of an Ethics Commission Complaint he’d filed against Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski. His brief one sentence query seemed to stun the entire town board since a surprised look came over the political leadership. It did not appear that any of them knew about the matter, including the Mayor or Commissioner Jablonski.
With a few brief moments of confusion following, Bob brought some clarity back to the situation by asking in his own surprised way, “You mean you people don’t know about the complaint I filed?” At this point, the town administrator and attorney started speaking up. Yes we know about the complaint and it’s been handed over to our ethics commission was generally the way the conversation went. To that a follow up question was tossed at the political leadership but the professional staff was stepping up to handle the exchange for the elected officials.
By the time the next logical query came, “Well have they met?” the professional staff had the ball and was running with it. Someone said no. Someone said yes. Someone added they met but they didn’t have a quorum! As for Someone Noticed, we along with the Cecil Whig, and the public watched all the other official some-ones answer questions or look on with amazement. And that’s the way it was on a Wednesday evening at the Elkton Town Meeting.
The members of the public that were present to see this interaction departed from the room wondering what was going on since none of the elected officials seemed to know anything about the matter. However we noticed a number of interesting side discussions going on after the meeting broke up.
It’s been almost two weeks since that transaction took place and we’ve been looking for a press release from the town, which would at least let the public know the basics, including the status of the ethics investigation.
Although we’ve been working on this important story, which took place in an open meeting, we’ve still got some digging to do since nothing has been released by the town. We assume the Cecil Whig is working on this too since it’s an important public matter (and news story) on the small town beat. But they’ve apparently come up with less than we have at Someone Noticed since nothing has appeared in the daily paper.
While we wait for the report on the Elkton Ethics Commission Investigation, we’ve asked about the process. The town’s professional staff is not involved in the matter according to the town administrator. “If the Town receives an ethics complaint about a Town official, we turn it over to the Ethics Commission, a three-member panel appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Commissioners,” Lewis George said. “As the Town Administrator, I’m not directly involved in the investigation of the complaint, nor do I participate in any deliberations of an ethics question involving an elected official. . . .” When asked about a policy since there seemed to be such confusion, the administrator said to his knowledge “the Mayor and Commissioners have not developed any policy specific to ethics-related issues, therefore only the Town’s Code, Chapter 2.16 – Code of Ethics, governs this particular realm of conduct.”
We’ll get more information out on this story as the town figures out how to handle a complaint and it goes through the process.