Commissioner Jablonski Should Not Participate in Decisions That Affect Her Employment, Ethics Panel Rules

In the matter of Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski before the Town of Elkton Ethics Commission (complaint # 2009-1), a ruling has been issued. The three-member board said that while it did not find that Commissioner Jablonski violated the Ethics Code, she should not participate in discussions or decisions that would address or affect her employment or compensation. The ruling said: “The Commission believes that Commissioner Jablonski would not intentionally violate the code of ethics . . . [but] it could give the appearance of impropriety if she does not recuse herself from voting on the record, regarding any matter specifically pertaining to the Elkton Alliance.”


10 responses to “Commissioner Jablonski Should Not Participate in Decisions That Affect Her Employment, Ethics Panel Rules

  1. Well,Commissioner Jablonski voted “yes” on the 2010 budget. Is this an impropriety? Call the lawyer! Call the Ethics Commission!

  2. Always glad to have Santa Claus stop by the blog as summer time approaches.

    You’re right Santa. Commissioner Jablonski voted on the 2010 budget. We were surprised at the workshop when the budget was being discussed by the elected officials and the town attorney delivered an opinion saying it was okay for her to vote for it wasn’t a conflict of interest. After that discusison in the workshop Commissioner Jablonski thanked the attorney for the opinion.

    That really caught us off guard considering that a complaint on this subject was being investigated by the ethics board. But since the town attorney is also the attorney for the ethics board, we were also wondering how this was going to work out when the ethics board finally got together since their attorney had delivered the opinion to the town board before the three-member commission had assembled to sort through the facts.

    That seemed like an unusual practice to us. But, on this matter, most things have seemed like unusual practices — not at all the way you’d want to smoothly handle this request for a ruling. Thus we were surprised when the three members of the commission delivered a ruling saying that she shouldn’t vote on matters concerning the Alliance.

    We often wondered as this untidy matter unfolded why officials just don’t go far out of the way to deal with the conflict perception. Why not just say, from the start, look I’m not going to vote on these matters because I’m paid by that organization. Why not, especially, if there’s a request for a ruling say I’ll recuse myself on the discussion. Sounds too simple to us.

    In the commission’s decision they cite the town board’s funding of other groups, but in none of the cases that we’re aware of are any of those members paid to do anything for them. They’re all volunteers with those groups and none of the board members are paid to serve in the fire company or what have you. Also the town is not the primary funding source for any of those groups, as they are at the Alliance.

    Enjoy your summer Santa, before you have to get back to work.

  3. Joe you watchin this? Done got that ole Santa watchin us now. Next thing you know you’ll have that ACLU watchin us again. Better start watchin out.

  4. What the HELF. No violation of the Ethics law.

    Santa Claus done got this one right. Call a lawyer. call the ethics commisson. Call Santa. Calll a few more lawyers.

    Remember ole Sam for Mayor. Can’t do anyone worse them this bunch. No ethics violation!

  5. What do you expect from an appointed Commission? The foxes have control to the hen house.

  6. Thanks for your ongoing coverage of this issue, Mike. Sounds like the ethics people did a “on the one hand, on the other hand” split the baby type decision. She shouldn’t vote on it in the future, but well, we won’t pick on her because she did it in the past.

  7. Tea Party Goer:

    They did surprise me by coming up with an opinion saying that she shouldn’t vote on matters concerning the Alliance. Now I realize they hedged the opinion by also saying that she hadn’t violated an ethics ordinance (see comment from Louise), but anyone able to read the decision, as well as the ethics ordinance can easily explain that positioning.

    If you’d ask me to take a bet, especially once the town lawyer (also serving as the ethics commission lawyer), advised Commissioner Jablonski in a town meeting that it was OK to vote on the budget, I would’ve wagered that they’d just go along with the lawyers opinion. I didn’t see them coming up with anything but the same opinion on that matter.

    I might have to see what kind of data I can mine through Freedom of Information Act regulations, now that the decision was done. They certainly made a lot of this get played out in front of the public, when I would’ve thought they would’ve tried to move as much of that as possible behind the scenes.

    The Kent County News uses the Freedom of Information Act all the time. In fact whenever a governmental body down there holds a closed door meeting, they actually report the fact and the reason. Don’t know if their politicians are less straight-forward than ours or if it just a difference in media!

    Never know what you’ll come up with when you go fishing. Heck you’d think the Whig would start using that method to get some real news.

  8. Exactly Lousie. She won’t vote on matters going forward. But oh, there was not a violation of the Ethics Code. By that logic, I guess it would still be okay to vote on things!

  9. Anybody see downtown getting any better? Look at it now. Hardly anything left after those politicians spent all that money. We didn’t get anything for it thats for sure. Just more taxes. Hardly anyone I know goes downtown anymore so I don’ think it makes much difference. Now that she cant approve all the money she wants to for downtown, whats going to happen. People start thinking.

  10. Harvey:

    Downtown certainly has its challenge and recent happenings haven’t helped at all. To start with, the loss of 200 officer workers and the untold number of visitors they generated each week was a major loss to the central business district’s economy. Then you add to that the turn in the national situation, and the obstacles are even greater.

    Nonetheless, it is important that health communities have vibrant town centers, a place where people will go to dine or shop. In Elkton’s case we need to continue trying to build broad, wide-spread community support and make sure we properly identify the elements of Elkton that we can leverage to the town’s advantage, in order to create a market on Main Street.

    One of the distractions that comes out of all of this is that this ties the very important revitalization effort directly into town politics. You can sense it now at the town meetings. And it is hard to build relationships, which one needs to strengthen, when the politics of things gets mixed up in the professional activities of revitalization.

    Anyway thanks for posting your thoughts.

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