Montville won't act on ethics complaint

Montville - The Town Council on Thursday opted against acting on an ethics complaint filed against council Chairwoman Candy Buebendorf.

Town Councilor Dana McFee filed the complaint, which alleged that in 2007, Buebendorf solicited the town attorney for a legal opinion as she considered whether it would be appropriate for her to apply for a job in the town's public schools.

McFee argued that Buebendorf, who was first elected to the council in 2005 and works as a civics teacher at Rham High School in Hebron, requested the opinion for her personal use and had it mailed to her residence. The 2007 opinion surfaced recently when there was a question as to whether Town Councilor Laura Tanner, a paraprofessional in the town's schools, could sit on the council and vote on the Board of Education budget.

Five councilors met Thursday without Buebendorf or McFee present and voted 4-1 against taking up the ethics complaint. Councilor Rosetta Jones cast the only dissenting vote.

The five councilors - Billy Caron, Chuck Longton, Gary Murphy, Tanner and Jones - interviewed Town Clerk Lisa Terry and former councilor John Geary about the complaint. They met in executive session for a little more than an hour and did not make any public comments pertaining to the details of the complaint.

McFee on Thursday called Buebendorf's actions a misuse of taxpayer money and said the council's vote was unsurprising because it came along political party lines. McFee is the lone Republican on the council, Jones is unaffiliated and the other seats are held by Democrats.

"Candy Buebendorf got an attorney's opinion that benefited her," McFee said. "No matter which way they cut it, what she did was wrong."

Buebendorf did not return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

The ethics complaint follows two others filed with the council about a year ago against two members of the Board of Assessment Appeals. The first complaint was filed by Jones, then a board member, who took issue with Ann Mattson, another board member, accepting free tickets to a home show from a taxpayer who appeared before the board to dispute his tax assessment.

Murphy and Buebendorf then filed a subsequent ethics complaint against Jones for leaking the first complaint to the media. They eventually dropped their complaint because of the escalating legal costs of the investigation.

Both ethics complaints cost the town $18,763 in legal fees, as the town's attorney spent more than 50 hours on both complaints. It was unclear Thursday if any legal fees would be associated with the latest ethics complaint.

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