Montville Town Councilors' alleged golf outing with WPCA official prompts ethics complaint
Montville — Republican Town Councilor Thomas McNally filed ethics complaints late Monday asking that the town "please look into the legality" of the Water Pollution Control Authority donating $2,500 to a nonprofit to cover four town officials' alleged participation in a golf tournament fundraiser.
McNally said he believes that Democratic Town Councilors Tim May, Billy Caron and Joe Jaskiewicz and Water Pollution Control Authority Administrator Brian Lynch may have violated the town's Code of Ethics by playing golf on the WPCA's dime, which he said could constitute accepting a gift valued at more than $25.
McNally said that when you "put it all together," the four "basically received a gift they shouldn't have received."
He said that if the WPCA were to make the donation and send four people who were not town officials or employees, he would think that was ethical. He also said he would not have filed a complaint if Mayor Ronald McDaniel had warned the WPCA not to do something similar again.
McDaniel said he would not comment directly on the new complaint, but noted that recent ethics complaints from the Independence for Montville Party were politically motivated. He said the Republicans and Independence for Montville work together.
Caron and Jaskiewicz both said they didn't play on the WPCA team at the tournament, which was held May 9 to benefit Project Graduation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that raises money for a sober celebration for graduating Montville High School seniors. Caron said that he had planned to volunteer at the tournament but not to play, and had been unable to make it due to a scheduling conflict.
"How can you file ethics charges when it's all on hearsay?" said Jaskiewicz.
"It's not true, that's all I can tell you," he later added.
Project Graduation volunteers said that the complaint tarnished the image of an organization that benefits children. They also questioned McNally's motivation for filing the complaint and say that he approached the issue in an unethical way.
Project Co-Chairman John Valliere, who works as an attorney, and project volunteer Danielle Butzgy said they believe McNally is trying to get back at the WPCA, which fired him from his assistant superintendent position in 2012. McNally alleged political motivations behind the firing and WPCA cited workplace accidents.
"It all goes back in my opinion to him having an ax to grind with the WPCA," said Butzgy.
McNally maintains that his complaint has no relation to his being fired.
Butzgy claimed that McNally threatened her when attempting to file a Freedom of Information Act request with her to find out the names of those playing on the WPCA team.
"I feel that he tried to coerce me with his title of town councilor," she said.
McNally said that he received the names from another team's player, whose name he would not reveal. He requested in the complaint that an outside attorney perform the investigation, as is occurring in one of two other ethics complaints currently filed with the council.
Valliere, who said he was not acting as an attorney for Project Graduation, said he planned to complain to the town council at its meeting next week. He said he may push for the council to oust McNally.
Jaskiewicz, Valliere and Butzgy all suggested that the town form an Ethics Commission.
Editor's note: This version corrects the headline and Independence for Montville Party's name.
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