Additional ethics complaints filed in Montville

Montville - Independence for Montville Chairman James Andriote filed two new ethics complaints Friday, against town Water Pollution Control Authority Administrator Brian Lynch and Democratic town councilor and WPCA Chairman Tim May. The town now has four open ethics complaints, all from Andriote.

The complaints pertain to the WPCA's donation of $2,500 to nonprofit Project Graduation, which organizes a sober party for graduating Montville High School seniors every year.

Mayor Ronald McDaniel called the newest complaints "nothing but political posturing." May said of the recent string of complaints, "They're really unfounded. They're kind of like background noise that we have to deal with."

Andriote said his motivations were not political. He said he filed the complaints to put a check on town corruption that he said is "getting worse and worse and worse."

"I'm involved in town politics. I'm not political. I don't play politics with people's lives," said Andriote, who has run for Town Council multiple times.

He claims in his complaints that May acted on a conflict of interest, because May's son participated in the Project Graduation party.

He accused Lynch of violating the town charter through his involvement in dispersing the donation, because "based on my knowledge, no one from the WPCA Commission has been appointed to Project Graduation's Board of Directors either from the Town Council or the Commission."

The town charter states, "The Town shall make no contributions to any organization or private corporations unless so authorized by General Statutes. No such contribution of more than $1,000 shall be made to any such organization or corporation unless the Town is represented on its board by one or more members nominated thereto by the Town Council."

McDaniel said that the section of the town charter to which Andriote was referring is "just not pragmatic," and commented that the town sets aside funds during budgeting that go toward other organizations without town representatives on their boards.

He also commented that the WPCA has an interim policy requiring that the entity publicly vote on any potential donations. He said the policy, which he presented to Republican town councilor Tom McNally in order to convince him to drop his complaints pertaining to the WPCA donation, still has to be approved by the WPCA.

May said the WPCA made the donation to Project Graduation after the organization wrote the WPCA a letter requesting a donation, and that he, Lynch and WPCA Vice Chairman Robert Thorn agreed to make the contribution.

Andriote requests in his complaint against May that an outside law firm investigate May's involvement in the donation. The council normally investigates ethics complaints against town officials, but Andriote claims in the complaint that a council investigation would pose a conflict of interest because other councilors also have children and relatives who participated in Project Graduation.

Andriote's two complaints from earlier this year are still being investigated by an outside law firm and Democratic council Chairman Joe Jaskiewicz said he expects the results of the investigation to be ready by the end of the month. The complaints deal with a council vote that decreased the required buffer between vendors and businesses that sell similar products.

McDaniel said Monday that the town was in the process of sending Andriote notification of receiving the complaints and that he was not sure if an outside firm would conduct an investigation of May. The mayor's office is responsible for handling the complaint against Lynch because Lynch is a town employee.

t.townsend@theday.com

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