Ethics board clears Highway appointment

WEVERTOWN - In a controversial decision, the Johnsburg Town Board delivered a 3-2 vote in support of Highway Superintendent Daniel Hitchcock's bid to appoint William Mosher to a vacant Highway Department position.

The Jan. 6 vote was required under the Town's Ethics Code. The code stipulates that an appointment by a town official of a relative, in this case Hitchcock's brother-in-law, must be reviewed by an ethics panel comprised of the Town Board.

Hitchcock has recently been under considerable scrutiny and criticism for his decision to appoint Mosher to the position.

Mosher's employment with the Highway Department was terminated late last year amid allegations of misconduct. Earlier this month, a series of posters critical of Hitchcock and the majority of the Town Board have been posted in the community.

Hitchcock has stated his belief that despite what occurred (with Mosher) before he took office in November, that his choice for the position represents the highest qualified candidate. He also maintains that Mosher is deserving of a "second chance" similar to one extended to another town employee.

Following Hitchcock's formal announcement at the meeting of his desire to hire Mosher, the board initiated an ethics review discussion.

Supporters of the appointment sought to define the issue strictly within the framework of the ethics review process. Councilmen Stevens and Arsenault criticized Supervisor Goodspeed for taking a broad approach to the issue by revisiting the Board decision in favor of Mosher's termination in 2008.

Goodspeed reiterated his belief that a vote of support could place the town in legal jeopardy in the event another act of misconduct occurred.

The sometimes heated debate also involved the audience as both sides argued their points.

Hitchcock supporters expressed their concern that the Board was essentially blocking him from carrying out the duties for which he was elected. Others noted that the ultimate responsibility for the appointment rest with Hitchcock and his ability to run the Highway Department effectively.

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