Saturday, March 21, 2009

BOF Member Alexander Should Not Participate in BOE Budget

Mr. K.P. Cofgs. I met this mnemonical individual in biology class the same year that I learned that the ability to reason and the existence of conscience are the province of homo sapiens. That was a long time ago and it wouldn’t surprise me if the definitions of “reason” and “conscience” have evolved such that the concept is now outdated and, just maybe, I didn’t get it right then.

What I do know for sure is that we are each endowed with a moral compass, a compass that is superior to laws and regulations, neither of which can promise good behavior. Similarly, ethics codes cannot promise ethical behavior. The interpretation, application and enforcement of laws and ethics codes, no matter how well written, are subject to political influence and the whim and caprice of those who take an oath to uphold and enforce. Not so the moral compass.

Our personal moral compasses guide the decisions that we make in life. Though we may be influenced by laws or regulations or enlightened by religious practice, education, books and wise people, ultimately our decisions are so extremely personal and, ultimately, one’s moral compass is located between one’s self and one’s pillow.

I have attended Town meetings in which a member, faced with a potential personal conflict on a matter before the body, turns to his fellow members and says, “I will participate in this discussion unless there is an objection from you.” Town Councilman Ray O’Brien has done this. Similarly, Town Councilman Mary Jane Lundgren recently asked the Town Attorney if she had a conflict and shouldn’t vote on a matter. Neither question is appropriate because the decision to recuse or not is personal and must be made based upon one’s own moral compass.

Board of Finance Member Gale Alexander is registered with the BOE as a substitute teacher. Mr. Alexander thus has a contractual relationship with the School and a direct financial interest in the BOE Budget. Mr. Alexander has, in years past, participated in discussions and deliberations about the BOE Budget and voted on it.

My moral compass tells me that that financial interest is incompatible with the proper discharge of his duties as a Member of the BOF and that it could impair his independence and impartiality of judgment in the performance of his public duty.

Mr. Alexander, what does your moral compass tell you...should you be doing these things? I think not and I ask you, to preserve the faith of the hard-working taxpayers of this Town in these extremely difficult times, to recuse yourself from these matters.

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