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Ethics Commission Minutes 05/01/2018
Minutes of Regular Meeting
Town Hall
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
5:30 p.m.

Meeting called to order by R. Staab at 5:31 p.m.
Members present—R. Staab, M. O’Brien, D. Basler, R. Paine, and P. Trainor
  • No press was present.
  • Marylin Clark, Ethics Commission Ombudsman, and John Collins, Town Attorney, were present.
  • Minutes of October 26, 2017, meeting unanimously approved; motion made by M. O’Brien, seconded by P. Trainor.
  • Mr. Collins addressed the Commission.  On behalf of the Town, he requested a conflict of interest waiver. His presentation is summarized below:
  • Mr. Collins explained that the Town is currently represented by the law firm of Robinson & Cole, LLP, in a matter dealing with the Volunteer Incentive Pension Plan.   As such, Robinson & Cole is a “paid consultant” pursuant to Section 43.3 of the Code of Ethics which defines “paid consultant” as “[a] person, firm, or corporation hired by the Town to provide services to the Town for a fee.” The Town is very satisfied with the representation provided by Robinson & Cole.
  • In a separate matter, Tesla Motors, Inc. applied to the Zoning Commission to install a charging station at 90 Halls Road.  The application was denied, because the Town’s zoning regulations do not address charging stations.  There is no indication any member of the Zoning Commission opposes the installation of a charging station; the denial, as far as Mr. Collins is aware, was based solely on the fact that charging stations are not included in the zoning regulations.  
  • Tesla Motors’ legal recourse after the denial is to file suite in Connecticut Superior Court, challenging the Zoning Commission’s decision.  The Town, however, would prefer to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation, particularly because there is no opposition to the installation of charging stations.  Tesla Motors has offered to provide the Town with sample zoning language allowing installation of charging stations that may be adopted by the Town if it amends its regulations.
  • The Town would like Robinson & Cole to represent it in pursuing resolution of the issue with Tesla Motors.  The pension matter addressed above will likely be resolved shortly, and the attorney representing the town in that matter would not be the same attorney acting for the Town in the Tesla matter.  Nonetheless, there is a conflict of interest in that Robinson & Cole could potentially be representing both the Town and a party opposing the Town (i.e., Tesla).  The Town is seeking a waiver from the Ethics Commission from Section 43-5A of the Code that states:  “No paid consultant of the Town shall represent a private party in any action or proceeding against the Town.  This restriction may be waived by the Ethics Commission.”
  • The Commission members discussed the request by Mr. Collins.  The Commission unanimously approved the waiver; motion made by M. O’Brien, seconded by P. Trainor.
  • The Commission determined there was no need to go into Executive Session.
Motion to adjourn made by M. O’Brien at 5:33 p.m., seconded by D. Basler; motion passed unanimously.
Submitted by P. Trainor, Secretary
May 3, 2018
Next meeting of the Ethics Commission—October 2018 (date TBD)

52 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371  (860) 434-1605

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