There’s no telling when the panel will render its advisory opinion on an allegation of conflict of interest against Town Attorney Michael Jones Jr.
The Ethics Board interviewed town Attorney Michael Jones Jr., Supervisor Leslie Bamann and two Town Board members in a closed-to-the-public meeting that lasted just over three hours last night.
The meeting at the temporary Town Hall started at 7 p.m. and ended just after 10 p.m., with Ethics Board members leaving the session and making no public comments. The panel will put in writing an advisory opinion on concerns raised over Jones’ representation of the town in a case involving a developer, and turn it over to Bamann.
Ethics Board Chairman Kevin Merriman this morning gave no indication when that opinion would be offered.
“Our proceedings are pretty confidential, so I can’t say, exactly, when a decision will be rendered,” he said. “When it is rendered, our process is to give it to Leslie in a written form. It will be confidential as far as we’re concerned, and what she does after that is up to her.”
Bamann said she was questioned by the Ethics Board, as were Town Board members John Accorso and John Palomaki. Jones was called in to speak twice, she said.
“There were a number of us there,” Bamann said. “They took us in one by one and they interviewed us.”
A few community members had attended the meeting but had to stay in a separate room.
Bamann called on the Ethics Board to convene after Planning Board member Dawn Grosso suggested that Jones would have a conflict of interest in representing the town in a lawsuit filed by Benderson Development Co. Benderson sued after the Planning Board rejected its plan to add a Kohl’s store to its Victor Crossing project on Route 96.
Grosso said Jones should not represent the town because his former law partner, Jeff Morris, now works for Benderson in Florida. Though Jones and Morris are no longer partners, the firm name remains Jones & Morris, and Morris’ name appears on letterhead and other materials.
Jones defended himself in a letter to town officials last week, saying he is not violating any legal codes by keeping Morris’ name on the firm and that he does so because of Morris’ longevity and name-recognition for his many former clients.
Jones later suggested that the town find an attorney other than himself to handle the Benderson suit. Both the Town Board and Planning Board are planning to do so.
Last night was the first time the five-member Ethics Board has convened since it was formed last year.
Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at email@example.com.