Ethics committee rejects new complaint, considers changes

The Shelburne Ethics Committee decided this week that a new complaint it received did not merit a hearing or public disclosure.

At a special meeting Monday evening, the committee said it actually received two new complaints last week. One was withdrawn, but the other needed to be discussed.

The committee met in executive session for almost an hour and returned to announce that the complaint would not go further.

Committee Vice Chair Tom Little said the complaint was “dismissed for failure to state and support a clear violation of the ethics ordinance.”

The ethics committee has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as it has fielded complaints between town officials. Last week, with the help of a mediator brought in by the selectboard, Shelburne Volunteer Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet and Selectboard member Dr. Colleen Parker withdrew claims they made against each other to the ethics committee. Parker also agreed to withdraw a lawsuit she had filed against the entire ethics committee and Ouimet.

According to the rules of the committee, the details of the new complaints —who made them, who they target and why —were not made public before the committee met Monday.

The committee reviews complaints in private to determine if they merit formal review in a public setting.

If the committee decides to pursue a complaint, it schedules a hearing and the specifics made public. Should the committee determine a complaint does not merit review, it goes no further and details are not revealed on who filed the complaint, against whom, and the reasons for it.

While the specifics of the newest complaint were not shared by the committee, during the executive session period Monday night, Davies Allen told members of the public waiting for the committee to reconvene that he was responsible for the latest complaints.

Allen, a regular observer and participant at local government meetings in recent months, said his complaints were related to the previous matters before the committee.

The ethics committee meets again Dec. 19 and Chair Lee Suskin said it will begin to discuss possible amendments to the town ethics ordinance and the committee’s procedural rules.

Suskin said the committee “welcomes and appreciates” comments from the public on those topics and encouraged people to attend next week to offer suggestions.

At Tuesday evening’s Selectboard meeting, board Chair Gary von Stange also brought up possible changes in the ethics ordinance and rules. The board discussed whether and how it might participate in reviewing the existing ordinance and rules and offer amendments. Von Stange noted that the original ordinance was adopted after a public vote and suggested a town vote may be required to change the ordinance.

The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.

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