Town group floats more ethics reforms

Town group floats more ethics reforms
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth speaks at a previous town board meeting. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Town of North Hempstead officials are seeking to strengthen its ethics code and create rules for situations when family members are employed by the town.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town’s ethics working group, which was formed last year to “come up with ways to improve” the town’s ethics procedures, met over the past few months and recommended changes to the town’s ethics code.

“These resolutions will include numerous amendments to our current code of ethics, as well as establish rules for situations where members of the same family are employed by the town,” Bosworth said. “These significant changes are necessary in order to maintain our transparency and to keep our progress moving forward.”

The town board voted to set public hearings on the proposed ethics code and “anti-nepotism” code amendments for its Feb. 28 meeting.

Bosworth said that the laws are still being drafted but would be distributed to board members “well in advance” of the public hearings.

A town synopsis of the first public hearing states that the law “would amend various provisions of the town’s Code of Ethics including, amongst other things, conflicts of interest, interests in contracts, gifts, disclosure, recusal, use of town resources, private employment and the composition of the Board of Ethics.”

The town’s synopsis of the second public hearing states the law “would establish regulations addressing the employment, supervision, transfer or recommendation of relatives of town officers or employees.”

The town began taking steps last April to address corruption and conflicts of interest after the former town Democratic chairman, Gerard Terry, was found to have $1.4 million in tax debts and a former employee, Helen McCann, was arrested for allegedly stealing $98,000 from the Solid Waste Management Authority.

The town board approved a package of revisions to its ethics code in March, requiring contractors and more officials to file financial disclosures and adding family members who work for the town to the list of information that must be disclosed.

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