Essex County ethics board officially takes oath of office

ELIZABETHTOWN -The Essex County Board of Ethics has officially been formed.

At the April 4 meeting of the county Board of Supervisors, the five board members and one alternate were introduced to the board.

"This is something that we have been working toward since I was first sworn in as the county chairman," Jay supervisor Randy Douglas said. "It was not as cut and dry as I thought it was going to be, but this shows that we are transparent as a county and that we are trying to do the right things."

Ken Doyle, Phyllis Klein, Alex Shmulsky, Michael Oticelle and Frank Kearns were sworn into their positions after receiving the unanimous approval of the board of supervisors. James Hermann was also sworn in to serve as the alternate.

County attorney Daniel Manning said that he was confident in the selection of the board. Manning did address the fact that one member, Doyle, was an employee of Adirondack Community Action Programs.

"They are not a county entity and it would not be an ethics violation in anyway," Manning said. "We have worked hard to make sure that none of the board members have any ties with Essex County."

The original board will serve staggered terms between one and five years, with each member receiving a full five-year term when they are appointed.

Manning said that there would be some time needed for training and policy institution. Douglas said that he hopes to get the board together soon after they are approved to start the learning process.

"I think that we should have them ready to start by early May," Douglas said. "I am sure that Dan will want them to be up to par on everything before they start."Manning said that once the names are accepted by the board, there would be some time needed for training and policy institution.

The county ethics board will be charged with overseeing ethics complaints and issuing opinions, according to Manning.

"It will hold hearings regarding ethics violations and issue advisory opinions on ethics issues," Manning previously said. "They will field complaints and look into allegations in complaints. If the board determines merit or probable cause, they will initiate a hearing and make any recommendations regarding county code."

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