Montville vendors ordinance prompts second ethics complaint

Montville — Independence for Montville Chairman James Andriote Sr. filed a second ethics complaint against town officials Friday, this time singling out Town Council Chairman Joseph Jaskiewicz and Town Attorney Matthew Auger for not handling his original complaint properly.

Andriote's original complaint was against four Democratic councilors - Billy Caron, Chuck Longton, Tim May and Laura Tanner - who voted in favor of a change that decreased the required distance between street vendors and businesses that sell similar products. Andriote believes the changes were designed to benefit one individual vendor and are not in the best interest of the town.

The original complaint is now in the hands of Auger, said Jaskiewicz. Andriote believes the use of Auger is a conflict of interest because he works for the council and said the town should use an unaffiliated attorney to investigate his complaint.

Montville's code of ethics gives the Town Council authority to investigate ethics complaints filed against a town official. Jaskiewicz, a Democrat who was absent for the vote that prompted the original complaint, asked the town attorney to investigate Andriote's concerns because the majority of the council was implicated in the complaint.

"This is something that is unique (and) I did what I thought was in the best interest of the town," said Jaskiewicz, explaining that the normal investigation process would be impossible because only three members of the Town Council would be able to participate and the code of ethics requires at least four members to vote on the issue. He doesn't recall ever seeing an ethics complaint filed against the majority of the council before.

"That's why I did it that way," said Jaskiewicz. "I wasn't trying to be openly defiant."

Both Jaskiewicz and Mayor Ronald McDaniel said they are unaware of any precedent for the town using an outside attorney to handle an ethics complaint.

Andriote also accused Jaskiewicz of not notifying him of the receipt of his ethics complaint within the required five-day period. Andriote received a letter dated seven days after his complaint was filed.

"Joe (Jaskiewicz) apparently doesn't take this seriously enough," said Andriote.

Jaskiewicz said the late notification was an honest mistake on his part. He said he misread the regulations for ethics complaints and sent certified letters to the councilors and only realized later that he needed to send one to the person who filed the complaint as well.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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