Press-Republican

Thursday

April 3, 2014

Ethics-policy revisions to begin

MALONE — Franklin County wants to see how Essex County formed its Ethics Board before getting too far into revising its own 44-year-old policy.

And officials discussing the topic at a recent meeting were divided on whether to hand pick people from each of their districts to serve on the panel or ask all interested parties to apply to serve.

State law requires all counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts with populations of 50,000 or more to adopt a code of ethics to ensure no conflicts of interest exist between public officials’ duties and their private interests.

METROPOLITAN POLICIES

Franklin County legislators spent about 90 minutes at the session discussing portions of the existing law, which was adopted in December 1970.

They also got an overview from County Attorney Jonathan Miller on policies enforced in metropolitan areas, like Orange, Albany and Suffolk counties.

Then Legislator Barbara Rice (D-Saranac Lake) offered up brief details about Essex County’s practices.

She said she’d like even more information on what their neighbor did before Franklin County moves on, and she wants as much separation as possible between the County Legislature and any future ethics board.

‘LAYER BETWEEN’

Her view was the opposite of Legislator Gordon Crossman (D-Malone), who at first thought legislators would be seated as ethics-board members.

He said he wants each legislator to choose a representative, but the person wouldn’t necessarily have to be from that particular legislator’s district — much like how selections are made to the Industrial Development Agency or Solid Waste Management Authority boards.

Miller said legislators should select members since an ethics board would be merely an advisory panel — like the Tourism Advisory Committee.

Rice said 27 people applied to serve on Essex County’s panel and that, in the case of Franklin County, members should not be actively involved in politics in order to serve.

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