Montville to ask COG to consider regional ethics commission

Montville — The Town Council on Wednesday night voted to direct Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. to approach the town’s regional planning agency about forming a regional ethics commission.

The council voted 4-2 in favor of asking McDaniel to explore the possibility with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, which comprises elected officials from 20 regional towns. Councilor Chuck Longton was absent from the vote.

The town charter currently calls on the council to investigate ethics violations. Town Councilor Dana McFee has argued this system becomes problematic when the council is asked to investigate and rule on one of its own.

The council recently considered an ethics complaint McFee filed against council Chairwoman Candy Buebendorf. He alleged that in 2007 Buebendorf, a high school civics teacher, improperly solicited an opinion from the town attorney for her own personal use when she considered applying for a job in the town’s schools. Buebendorf has been a councilor since 2005.

The council found no probable cause for the complaint to move forward. McFee and Buebendorf were removed from the proceedings as it was investigated. When considering ethics complaints, the council has the power to remove officials from town boards or commissions.

The vote Wednesday came after a contentious discussion that featured McFee and Councilor Gary Murphy shouting at each other. Buebendorf called the debate ugly and uncivil.

— Jeffrey A. Johnson

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