By Ed Harris
The Board of Ethics has dismissed ethics complaints against two Democratic Town Councilors.
During the Town Council vote on the Board of Education budget allotment last month, resident Art Cyr publicly declared that he was going to file ethics complaints against Councilors John Barry and Chris Palmieri for conflict of interest.
Ethics complaints are typically kept anonymous, as it is up to the Board of Ethics to determine the legitimacy of the complaint. Cyr was chastised by Town Attorney Mark Sciota for airing the complaints in public.
Members of the Board of Ethics also took concern with how the complaint was handled. According to the May 30 meeting minutes, the Board of Ethics members unanimously stated that they were very concerned that the complainant chose to disregard the specific procedures in the ethics code and that in the future they hoped they would hear about an ethics complaint when it was forwarded to them by town staff, not through the media.
Barry has maintained that the filing of the ethics complaints was political in nature, something that Cyr vehemently denies.
“I’ve been speaking out at town meetings for over ten years,” Cyr said. “Nothing that I’ve ever spoken about has been politically motivated. I don’t answer to the Democrats or the Republican Town Committees. I work for the taxpayers and citizens of Southington.”
In his complaint against Barry, Cyr said that Barry should have disclosed that his wife was employed by the Board of Education, as an employee at the Southington High School Vo-Ag building, prior to his vote.
In the complaint against Palmieri, Cyr said Palmieri should have disclosed that he, as the vice-principal at DePaolo, was employed by the Board of Education.
In both complaints, Cyr requested that the Board of Ethics rule on whether a Town Council member is exempt from a conflict of interest because the Board of Finance and/or the Town Council do not have line item control over the Board of Education budget.
“Art Cyr is consumed by the negative bickering and small minded politics that doesn’t solve problems,” Barry said. “Cyr’s deliberate attempts to smear my volunteer service and use my family for his cheap political attack shows his lack of character. The over the top rhetoric where Cyr purposely lied about me and my family is inexcusable.”
This issue has dogged Palmieri in the past, but he has been deemed free from conflict as his votes on the Board of Education were for the overall dollar amount, not his salary specifically.
“I’m pleased with the ruling of the board,” Palmieri said, adding that he has always acted in the best interest of the community.