Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
The Invisible Ethics Policy In Hamilton
In Feb 2013, Hamilton's mayor asked the town council to abolish Hamilton’s ethics panel and turn enforcement of the code of ethics for public employees and officials over to the state’s Local Finance Board. She did this for good reason. So that her staff could run amok. One of her directors has been named as taking 69 free rounds of golf as a government employee. This same employee never disclosed this information on the required Federal disclosure forms. The rules are for everyone except the Mayor of Hamilton and her staff.
- Public official, directly or indirectly offers, confers or agrees to confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another any benefit as consideration for a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion of a public servant, party official or voter on any public issue or in any public election, or any benefit as consideration for a decision, vote, recommendation or exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding (Bribery in official and political matters)
- Acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant for official behavior
- Official misconduct
Max. imprisonment 3-5 years; max. fine $15,000
Max. imprisonment 5-10 years; max. fine $150,000
- Public servant , while performing his official functions on behalf of a governmental entity, knowingly transacts any business with himself, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which the public servant or an immediate family member has an interest (Unlawful official business transaction where interest is involved)
Max. imprisonment 18 months; max. fine $10,000
- Representation, appearance or negotiation, directly or indirectly, for acquisition or sale of property by state
- Representation of state agency in transaction involving pecuniary interest
- Disclosure or use for personal gain of information not available to public
- Solicitation, receipt or agreement to receive thing of value for service related to official duties
If Hamilton really wants to have "teeth" in their law they will formally prosecute all the people involved with destroying government records over the years. The now retired employee who during his employment thought it was ok to take 69 rounds of golf for free should also be prosecuted. All of the digital files and email prior to July 2010 have been destroyed. There was no certification done to formally destroy these records. This is against the law, a serious violation of the law. One that should not be ignored as well. Why is the township clerk, mayor and her administration not being held accountable? The same person who took 69 free rounds of gold was the same person in charge of all of the IT (internet and computers) for the township.
This tale is all too familiar in Hamilton, Mercer County. The last mayor went to jail. The new one looks like she is on the runway ready to take off to the land of orange jumpsuits. She cannot possibly state she knew nothing of her directors lack of integrity. This is a mayor who dilerately ignores numerous public safety issues, allows her directors to break the law, has 15 double dippers on the payroll who are draining the pension system. She has also has hired her family members, allowed the destruction of public records with no certification for the destruction of the records, the list goes on and on.
When residents asked the Hamilton mayor what happened to the calming measures that were supposed to be installed in residential neighborhoods, they got zero response. The contractor who was hired to do the work has financially supported the mayors campaigns with thousands of dollars in the past. The contractor is also personal friends with the mayor. The calming measures were never installed and the contract given to the contractor was over $400,000 higher than the other bids given to the town. Today, residents are dealing with tractor trailers speeding through their neighborhoods with toxc with anything from gasoline, explosive materials, oversided loads, etc.
A North Carolina legislator sponsored and voted on a bill to loosen regulations on billboard construction, even though he co-owned five billboards in the state. When the ethics commission reviewed the case, it found no conflict; after all, the panel reasoned, the legislation would benefit all billboard owners in the state — not just the lawmaker who pushed for the bill.
Tennessee established its ethics commission six years ago, but has yet to issue a single ethics penalty. It’s almost impossible to know whether the oversight is effectively working, because complaints are not made available to the public.
When representatives of a biotech company took Montana legislators out to dinner, they neither registered as lobbyists nor reported the fact that they picked up the bill. They didn’t have to — the law only requires registration upon spending $2,400 during a legislative session. And in Maine, one state senator did not disclose $98 million in state contracts that went to an organization for which he served as executive director. The lack of disclosure was not an oversight; due to a loophole in state law, he was under no obligation to do so.
The stories go on and on. Open records laws with hundreds of exemptions. Crucial budgeting decisions made behind closed doors by a handful of power brokers. “Citizen” lawmakers voting on bills that would benefit them directly. Scores of legislators turning into lobbyists seemingly overnight. Disclosure laws without much disclosure. Ethics panels that haven’t met in years.
State officials make lofty promises when it comes to ethics in government. They tout the transparency of legislative processes, accessibility of records, and the openness of public meetings. But these efforts often fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption.
That’s the depressing bottom line that emerges from the State Integrity Investigation, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. Not a single state — not one — earned an A grade from the months-long probe.
We give the town of Hamilton, Mercer County an F-- for integrity and an A++ for wasting taxpayers dollars and forgetting what public service really means. It does not mean.....steal all you can from taxpayers, hire your family, ignore public safety, etc. Wake up Hamilton leadership, residents are tired of your stupidity, greed and ignorance to the law. You are on the same road as the prior mayor.