By Lisa Scagliotti
and Mike Donoghue
The Shelburne Ethics Committee met for two hours Tuesday night to investigate a complaint in a closed-door session and decided against taking any action on it.
After the special meeting of the committee – which typically meets the third Thursday of each month – it released draft minutes Wednesday morning that did not reveal who filed the complaint or against whom it was made. The minutes said the committee “unanimously decided that the Complaint failed to identify sufficient specific facts and circumstances to enable the Committee to form a reasonable belief that the Respondent violated any of the provisions” of the town’s ethics ordinance.
The complaint did not ask the committee to take any specific steps beyond its initial review, the minutes said.
The minutes say that the committee considers the complaint and file closed.
Committee Chair Lee Suskin said he could not discuss details of the complaint or the closed-door session. He said that only Ethics Committee members and the town clerk were present at the start. According to the meeting minutes, committee members Bill Deming and Peter Gadue both recused themselves when the executive session began, and left along with the town clerk.
After the meeting ended, Suskin acknowledged to the Shelburne News that the committee held the meeting without the appropriate advance public notice. Under Vermont law, meetings of town government boards must be warned on the municipal website before they are called into session. Regular meetings must be on the web at least 48 hours in advance, while special meetings must be warned at least 24 hours ahead, according to Vermont’s open meeting law.
The Tuesday meeting notice did not get posted until sometime Tuesday afternoon. Suskin said he was unhappy to hear Tuesday morning that the committee meeting was not posted yet on the Shelburne town website. He said the Ethics Committee had agreed last Thursday to meet on Tuesday and requested that it be posted on the town website, but that did not occur before the holiday weekend. He did not say why the meeting could not wait until the appropriate time period for notice passed.
The law also says that agendas must be posted in or near the municipal office and at least two other designated public places prior to a meeting taking place. Suskin said he understood a paper copy was posted at the town offices.