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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 2, 2010

New Scotland ethics to wait for the new year

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — The bulk of the town’s new ethics law has been lifted until January.

In June, the town board unanimously adopted the law to take effect on Aug. 1, but, after hearing complaints, largely from members of the planning board, the town board voted, 4 to 0, on Tuesday, with Councilman Richard Reilly absent, to hold all sections of the law until next year except for those relating to the creation of the ethics board, which was appointed last month.  It has yet to hold its first meeting.

Also on Tuesday, the town board retained Justin Corcoran as the lawyer for the ethics board, to be paid $200 an hour with a cap of $3,000 for the rest of the year.

The ethics board, which is charged with interpreting the ethics law, already has questions to answer from people who sit on municipal boards.

“I regret, in some way, the we will lose, for the next few months, some components” of the new ethics law, Councilman Daniel Mackay, who helped to draft the law, said on Tuesday.  He named the recusal guidelines specifically, explaining that he and town attorney Michael Mackey, saw no way to maintain that part of the law while the rest of it is lifted.

“It was the issues raised by the practicing professionals and how their work product was going to be treated,” Supervisor Thomas Dolin said yesterday of what motivated him to support a suspension of the ethics law until the ethics board can convene to answer questions about how the law is to be interpreted.

At a meeting of the town board last month, Cynthia Elliott, a surveyor who sits on the planning board, said that she had already begun work for clients of hers who live in New Scotland and had concerns over whether they would be able to use her surveys if she kept her seat on the planning board.

She and fellow planning board member Robert Stapf, also a surveyor, had raised concerns over sections of the ethics law that would effect the ability of those with professional licenses who serve on municipal boards to work in town, representing residents.

The issue of whether or not residents would be able to use the work that they had paid for from professionals who sit on municipal boards was Dolin’s primary concern, he said.

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