Brian Pugh: Ensuring Ethics in Local Government

To the Editorbrian-pugh-group-cropped:

For many years, our Village has had a Code of Ethics for public officials. The code covers such issues as disclosure of interest in legislation, investment, and employment that could potentially be in conflict with official duties. However, the Village of Croton does not have an independent Ethics Board to help local officials navigate the code.

The establishment of a local Board of Ethics is optional. Nevertheless, many neighboring municipalities (such as Ossining, Irvington and Hastings) have chosen to establish their own Ethics Boards. Recent controversies in our Village support the establishment of such a board.

NYS Law authorizes the governing body of any municipality to establish a Board of Ethics. State law empowers communities to give such boards an array of powers. Ethics Boards can render advisory opinions to municipalities concerning conflicts of interest. They may also make recommendations on amendments to the ethics code. Some even have investigative and enforcement authority.

Deciding whether to establish an Ethics Board is an important municipal decision. Our Village should begin the public discussion of whether and how to establish such a board.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

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