Jim Franco’s March 16 article illustrated that there are continuing ethics problems in the Town of Colonie government. He pointed out that the Office of the New York State Comptroller issued an audit on Dec. 30, 2020, which illustrated that the Town of Colonie Ethics Board is doing a poor job in running a financial disclosure program for Colonie.
Colonie elected officials and employees are required under the Town of Colonie Ethics Code to file financial disclosure forms so that potential conflict of interest problems can be evaluated. The audit illustrated that many Town of Colonie employees failed to file financial disclosure forms as required.
There have been numerous other issues concerning the Colonie Ethics Board since 2009. For instance, the members of the Ethics Board regularly contribute monetary funds to the campaign accounts of elected town officials. They are not, therefore, independent Ethics Board members as they should be. Also, Town of Colonie employees can redact information from their financial disclosure forms under the terms of a local law passed in Colonie during 2010.
Ethics Board management could be improved in the Town of Colonie government if three common sense items are implemented. First, the Town of Colonie should establish a formal Ethics Board working group consisting of the town attorney, the town comptroller, and the town human resources director to assist the Ethics Board in reviewing the financial disclosure forms. Second, the Colonie local law from 2010 should be amended so that Town of Colonie employees and elected officials can’t redact information from their financial disclosure forms. Third, Members of the Town of Colonie Ethics Board should be prohibited from making campaign contributions to any Town of Colonie elected officials or political parties involved with Town of Colonie officials.
As the Spotlight has pointed out we are going to have a new group of people running the Town of Colonie after the 2021 election. Hopefully, they will provide proper Ethics Board management and remember two simple words as they proceed: Good Government.
Kevin M. Bronner, Ph.D.