Athol Daily News – State Ethics Commission sends public education letter to chairman of Winchendon planning council
Posted: 11/22/2021 13:48:57 PM
Modified: 11/22/2021 13:48:53 PM
In a press release, the State Ethics Commission today issued a public newsletter to Winchendon Planning Council Chairman Guy Corbosiero after finding reasonable grounds to believe Corbosiero has violated conflict of interest law by acting on behalf of a private company in connection with its application for a special permit to operate a retail marijuana facility in the city.
According to the letter, the Winchendon Planning Board is the authority that grants special permits to operate marijuana facilities in the city and its members are special municipal employees. In June 2018, Corbosero applied for a marijuana retail license on behalf of Toy Town Alternative Health, a private company he had formed with three partners.
The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Corbosiero violated conflict of interest law when he acted as representative of Toy Town in July 2018 by speaking to the Board of Directors in support of Toy Town’s request and signing documents on behalf of Toy Town as part of a host community. Agreement between Winchendon and the company. The letter explains that although Corbosiero did not participate as a member of the town planning council in matters involving Toy Town, his private actions on behalf of Toy Town nonetheless violated the prohibition in the Conflict Law Act. ‘interests against municipal employees acting privately on behalf of anyone other than the municipality. in the context of matters involving the municipality. The purpose of this ban is to prevent municipal employees from sharing their loyalty between their public employer and private parties.
The letter says Corbosero filed a disclosure with the Board of Selectmen detailing his involvement in Toy Town and his claim, revealing that Toy Town would appear before the planning board as part of his claim, and stating that he would not participate. as town planning council. member in any matter involving Toy Town or the retail sale of marijuana. The Board of Selectmen did not raise any questions at that time that Corbosero was acting privately on behalf of Toy Town in connection with its special permit application, according to the letter.
The Commission seeks to correct a common misconception about conflict of interest law and to ensure that municipal employees understand that they cannot act as an agent for a private party in any matter involving the municipality. , even if they do not participate and stay completely away from the material in their official capacity. The letter explains that this ban applies to special municipal employees when they have official responsibility for it, as Corbosero has done for marijuana retail licenses as a member of the planning board.
The Commission chose to resolve the allegations against Corbosiero through the publication of the public newsletter rather than through court proceedings, as it determined that the public interest would be best served by publicly discussing how the law on conflicts of interest applies to the alleged actions of Corbosiero. Corbosero agreed to resolve the allegations with the public education letter and waived his right to a hearing before the Commission. The Commission expects the letter to provide officials in similar circumstances with a better understanding of how to comply with the law.
The publication of the public education letter is the second public enforcement action the Commission has taken on Corbosero. In an unrelated case, Corbosiero entered into a disposition agreement with the Commission in 2010 and paid a civil fine of $ 2,000 for violating conflict of interest law by participating as a member of the planning board in a case in which a member of his immediate family had a financial problem the interest.
The Commission encourages officials to contact the Legal Division of the Commission at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have questions about how conflict of interest law may apply to them.