I have read the article entitled “Bethlehem Highway czar accused of ethics violation” and am writing to highlight what appears to be a common response to determinations made from a complaint filed against an individual. Instead of taking ownership and responsibility, Mr. Dorsey called the complaint reviewed by the Ethic’s board “a political hit job,” and I presume his answer is intended to make the entire situation appear minor in nature.
While I’m not certain if Mr. Dorsey believes it was the complaint that was political in nature, or if it was the boards determination which was the “political hit job,”, I would like to offer my opinion on his reply.
I read the Town of Bethlehem’s Ethic’s Code, which is in Chapter 16 of the Town’s Code, and available on the Town’s website for everyone to read, and it is very clear. Particularly Section 16-4, Subparagraph N; Standards of Conduct, “No municipal officer or employee shall solicit, accept, or receive a gift of any value.” I believe that if the Highway Superintendent had taken the time to read this, he would understand that the board only applies the set of facts presented to them against the code and ultimately makes a determination. It is clearly written in an atypical fashion, and requires a mechanical application of the code to a set of facts without regard for a person’s political affiliation. I would have to question how Mr. Dorsey considers political in nature? The only thing this demonstrates is the Highway Superintendent’s inability to follow the same set of rules that every town officer and employee are bound by. If Mr. Dorsey believes the Ethic’s Board determination was a political hit job, he should be aware that the Bethlehem Town Board members are the ones that appoint the Ethic Board members and I believe the majority of the Town Board members are in his own political party. I also believe that all of the Town of Bethlehem Boards act professionally, ethically and make decisions and determinations only after considering the facts and applying them to the procedures, rules, and regulations they are charged with upholding.
Mr. Dorsey also admits in the Spotlight article that he had been violating the Ethics Code since he was first elected in 2019, and since he got away with up until now, it was being used as a political hit job two weeks before an election. Perhaps someone should explain to Mr. Dorsey that sometimes people get away with things for years before they get caught. That doesn’t make it political. Accusing the complainant or the Ethic’s Board members of a “political hit job” is not an ethical response – rather it is an easy smoke screen that has unfortunately become an all-too common response in today’s political environment. I think the question to ask is did Mr. Dorsey ever read the Ethics code, because certainly he seems uncertain of the detail. I am also concerned if this clear breach of the ethics code seems so minor in nature to Mr. Dorsey, what else is there that he considers beneath his own definition of what is ethical or not. Ethics are not a gray area, they are black and white; and the adherence to them is not discretionary.
Another high-ranking official in New York State attempted to use Mr. Dorsey’s same excuse after a fact-based determination was made by the NYS Attorney General, but the residents would not accept it. I believe the residents of Bethlehem won’t accept that excuse either, we deserve transparency. And we deserve the transparency prior to the upcoming election.
Editor’s note: This letter will appear online only. Our policy is we do not run political or voting issue letters in print the Wednesday before election day.