Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clearly A Conflict

Amherst Select Board August 15

State Ethics Commission
Enforcement Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA 02108-1501
1/12/2016


To Whom It May Concern,

I wish to file a formal complaint concerning a violation of state ethics law — especially as it relates to the “appearance of a conflict of interest” — by Amherst Select Board member  Doug Slaughter at the Select Board September 26 regular Monday night meeting.


Five hours into said meeting the Select Board briefly discussed taking a position on a $65 million Debt Exclusion Override question for a new elementary school that appears on the November 8th ballot.  

Member Connie Kruger made a motion to support passage of the Question, it was seconded by Doug Slaughter, and then all five voted in favor. 

Although at that time of night (11:30 PM) no member of the general public was still at the meeting it is broadcast by Amherst Media thus available for your perusal.  

Since Mr. Slaughter is a full time Amherst School employee he should have abstained from the vote, or at the very least made a public announcement of his school affiliation to avoid the "appearance of a conflict of interest."


 
Sincerely,

Larry J. Kelley
596 South Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002


 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. There is no conflict of interest. He wasn't voting on a pay raise. The debt exclusion is to fund a facility that will be owned by the town, so he's only voting on something that has the same status for everyone on the selectboard.

Larry Kelley said...

Well what if he gets a pay raise from a grateful temporary Superintendent?

Anonymous said...

Public School employee Doug Slaughter's vote and deliberation to increase the income of his employer is absolutely and undeniably a conflict of interest as it relates to the “appearance of a conflict of interest”!

Anonymous said...

No, Larry.

Some days there is no story.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Larry, you are basically saying that because DS is a school employee, he should recuse himself from all decisions concerning the schools. That's not an ethics violation. It would only be a violation if it gave him a benefit greater than the benefit to the general public.

If you really sent that letter you are no better than the cranks you are always complaining about. Possible that the ethics board hits you with a sanction for making a frivolous complaint.

Nina Koch said...

Doug Slaughter is one of the most ethical people I know. He's also intelligent, kind, and highly competent. I imagine most people in town are thankful for his service on the Select Board.

Why don't you run for Select Board, Larry? Some year when there are no other contenders, so that you won't lose? Or better yet, run for School Committee.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes Nina, and as such I've seen Doug abstain from voting on school related issues at least a half-dozen times over the past three years, not just as a Select Board member but also Finance Committee and Joint Capital Planning Committee.

So we did he screw up this time?

Because they were FIVE hours into a meeting and Chair Alisa Brewer (a former School Committee member) was hurriedly ramming it down their throats.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Larry - for remaining on the ball - this is another of the teachers union booster cabals blatant forms of unethical transgressions against the tax paying community - wether it' a voting for his own salary - lily Kippy Fonshes refusal to recuse himself serving both as teacher - union boss - local/ regional school board representative - or writing the Gazette letters that open meeting law violations are " For the kids " - I think after this Gardner / Geryk debacle the public should be alarmed to protest this oppressive injustice !!!$$$&@

Laura Quilter said...

It was a unanimous vote, though, right? With only 5 minutes discussion? So the vote outcome wouldn't have been any different, unless the discussion was greatly swayed; and with that little amount of discussion, it seems like it wouldn't have made any difference. So basically, the Select Board's superficiality of proceedings insulates them from conflict of interest. They showed basically no interest, conflicted or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Not so clearly a conflict to all of us who don't have an axe to grind with the schools. Maybe you should take up golf and learn how to relax a little bit. Cherry Hill offers some lovely views this time of year.

Anonymous said...

Nina and your observations completely miss the boat - the law was broken - how " educated / enlightened is defending ignorance - anyhoo??? Just Say'n !!!$&@

Larry Kelley said...

Or wait until pot becomes legal.

But even being stoned that would leap out as an exceeding clear conflict of interest.

Now pass the cookies.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the conflict. The vote merely allows the town's voters to decide the issue.

Anonymous said...

This seems like a conflict to me. This seems to be the way this whole issue has gone under the cover of darkness and subject to interpretation. Why can be clarity and open conversation on this subject. Clearly this issue still needs discussion and planning not reasy
For a vote

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, the DESE website states that he is the DISTRICT Data Coordinator for the AMHERST School District (00080000)!

This is important because the Regional District is 06050000, 00080000 is considered to be the Amherst Municipal School Department, a subdivision of the Town of Amherst no different from the DPW, Police or Fire Departments. (He's also the Data Coordinator for 06050000, that's a grey area, 00080000 is not.)

(Hint: Ignore the first & last four digits, in this context, they will always be zero.)

Let me clarify: 00080000 officially is the Amherst Town Government -- DESE says so and that's important because the Massachusetts Constitution requires "The Selectmen" (i.e. THE SELECTBOARD) to provide education for the children. Such an obligation predates the 1780 MA Constitution, John Adams himself having taught school (in Worcester) three decades earlier. (It goes all the way back to when the Selectmen hired the Municipal Minister, with teaching children how to read the Bible being one of his duties.)

Now the Amherst Selectboard can meet it's legal obligation in one of two ways -- running its own school department, or belonging to a Regional District which is a separate legal entity -- or a combination of both, which is what it does. Hence 00080000 & 06050000 (Pelham is 02300000, with the PES itself being 02300005) -- the "Union" is irrelevant.)

And you can't recuse yourself from an obligation imposed upon yourself by the MA Constitution.

QED he can't be a Select AT ALL!, no more than an APD officer could be, no more than any town employee could be -- 0800 makes him a municipal employee, notwithstanding the even greater conflict of interest explicitly created by the MA Constitution.

Larry, he can't be on the Selectboard!

Dr. Ed said...

Doug Slaughter is one of the most ethical people I know. He's also intelligent, kind, and highly competent. I imagine most people in town are thankful for his service on the Select Board.

Nina, this is irrelevant -- he can't do both jobs at the same time, no matter how much people may wish him to.

Why don't you run for Select Board, Larry? Some year when there are no other contenders, so that you won't lose? Or better yet, run for School Committee.

And that's even less relevant, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Larry Kelley said...

At least she didn't bring up my kids.

Anonymous said...

WRONG ....as can be - he was approving use of expansive taxpayer funding ( that's us) for himself and union flunked ( violates conflict of interest) ...and NO ... it wasn't " For the kids" abject total BUSKA !!!?$&@

Anonymous said...

Fire him immediately!

Anonymous said...

So, I guess if I was an abutter to the current DPW, I would have to recuse myself from any potential town meeting vote about putting a fire station there.

Oh, wait. Conflict of interest laws don't apply to Town Meeting. Hypocrites all.