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For more details on a specific meeting, see the Meeting Minutes.

 

The Ethics Commission held its 9th meeting of 2015 on July 21, 2015.     

The Commission took the following actions:

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-29 to Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, opining that he is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from accepting a gift from the University of New Haven.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-30 to Bruce Ogni, a member of the Lincoln Town Council, opining that he is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Town’s “50/50 Sidewalk and Curb Replacement Fund Program,” available to all homeowners in the Town, whereby the Town pays for half of the cost of replacing the curbing and sidewalks on a residential property. 

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-31 to Michael C. Swistak, a member of the Jamestown Planning Commission, opining that he is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Planning Commission’s consideration of the Jamestown Fire Department’s fire station development plan review application, provided that there is no corresponding financial impact to himself as the co-insurance broker for the Jamestown Fire Department’s group life insurance policy. 

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-32 to Michael Cochran, a member of the Jamestown Planning Commission, opining that he is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Planning Commission’s consideration of the Jamestown Fire Department’s fire station development plan review application, provided that there is no corresponding financial impact to himself as a volunteer firefighter with the Jamestown Fire Department. 

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-33 to Geoffrey A. Marchant, the Director of the Community Development Consortium, opining that he is prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Consortium’s approval of payments to the Washington County Community Development Corporation, given that he is a member of the Washington County Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. 

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-34 to Catherine DeNoia, a member of the Westerly Planning Board, opining that she is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Planning Board’s consideration of a major land development application for a proposed postsecondary education campus in Westerly, notwithstanding that she is a member of the Board of Directors of Greater North End Community Development, Inc., and representatives of that organization will likely provide public comment during the public hearing for that application. 

Unanimously voted to approve an Informal Resolution & Settlement in the matter of In re: Johanna Harris, Complaint No. 2014-9. 

Unanimously voted to initially determine that the facts alleged in In re: Ronald J. Areglado, Complaint No. 2015-5, if true, are sufficient to constitute a knowing and willful violation of the Code of Ethics and authorized an investigation.

 

The Ethics Commission held its 8th meeting of 2015 on June 16, 2015.

The Commission took the following actions:

Unanimously voted to approve an Informal Resolution & Settlement in the matter of In re: Susan Cicilline-Buonanno, Complaint No. 2015-3. The Respondent utilized her Cranston School Department email account in furtherance of her campaign for state office by sending two separate emails to members of the Narragansett Democratic Town Committee, in violation of Rhode Island General Laws § 36-14-5(d). A civil penalty of $500 was imposed.

Unanimously voted to initially determine that the facts alleged in In re: Henry F. Winthrop, Complaint No. 2015-4, if true, are sufficient to constitute a knowing and willful violation of the Code of Ethics and authorized an investigation.

Held an adjudicative hearing in the matter of In re: Eunice D. DeLaHoz, Complaint No. NF2014-1. The Commission unanimously found that the Respondent, a former member of the Central Falls City Council, violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16 by failing to timely file a 2013 Financial Disclosure Statement with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. The Commission imposed a fine of $1500.

Held an adjudicative hearing in the matter of In re: Natalia Rosa-Sosa, Complaint No. NF2014-3. The Commission unanimously found that the Respondent, a former member of the Providence School Board, violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16 by failing to timely file a 2013 Financial Disclosure Statement with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. The Commission imposed a fine of $1500.

 

The Ethics Commission held its 7th meeting of 2015 on May 19, 2015.

The Commission took the following actions:

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-23 to William L. Bernstein, Esq., the former Assistant Solicitor for the Town of Burrillville, opining that he is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from representing clients before the Burrillville Zoning Board and the Burrillville Planning Board within one year following the end of his tenure with the Town of Burrillville.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-24 to Michele H. Kazarian, Esq., the Probate Judge for the City of East Providence, who also works part time as an attorney for the Rhode Island General Assembly, opining that she is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from: (1) engaging in political activity for various state and local candidates, provided that she does so on her own time and without the use of public resources or equipment; or (2) participating in matters before the East Providence Probate Court in which a current or former employee or member of the General Assembly is the attorney of record, provided that there are no other facts that would implicate the prohibitions within the Code of Ethics.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-25 to Robert Kempenaar II, a member of the Middletown Town Council, opining that he qualifies for a hardship exception to the Code of Ethics’ prohibition on representing himself before the Middletown Zoning Board and the Middletown Planning Board in order to construct a new gate lodge/lobby at a Howard Johnson Inn that he owns, which will bring the motel into compliance with the Howard Johnson brand specifications.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-26 to Frank Caprio, Esq., the Chief Municipal Court Judge for the City of Providence, opining that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit him from allowing his brother to videotape Municipal Court Proceedings for commercial purposes and for which his brother will receive compensation, provided that: (1) the Petitioner does not receive any financial compensation from the commercial broadcast of these court proceedings; (2) any member of the public is permitted to videotape such proceedings; (3) the Providence Municipal Court posts its videotaping policy in a place that provides notice to the public; (4) the Petitioner’s brother is not granted any special access to confidential information or Municipal Court facilities, or given advanced notice of the docket that is not available to any other member of the public; and (5) the Petitioner’s brother does not use any City of Providence resources or equipment for the videotaping of court proceedings.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-27 to Amy M. Grzybowski, the Director of Planning, Code Enforcement and Grants Administration for the Town of Westerly, who is also temporarily serving as Interim Town Manager, opining that she is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the Town of Westerly’s review of a non-profit entity’s development proposal that may involve the Community College of Rhode Island, notwithstanding that she is an online adjunct faculty member of the Community College of Rhode Island.

Issued Advisory Opinion 2015-28 to Steven M. Hudak, Esq., a member of the Town of Bristol Zoning Board of Review, opining that he qualifies for a hardship exception to the Code of Ethics’ prohibition on representing himself before his own Board, for purposes of obtaining a dimensional variance to construct a second-story bedroom on his personal residence.

In the matter of In re: Bonnita Van Slyke, Complaint No. 2014-21, unanimously voted to find that probable cause does not exist to believe that the Respondent violated the Code of Ethics as alleged in the Complaint.  Therefore, the Complaint was dismissed with prejudice. 

In the matter of In re: Daniel P. Reilly, Complaint No. 2014-18, unanimously voted to find that probable cause does not exist to believe that the Respondent violated the Code of Ethics as alleged in the Complaint. Therefore, the Complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

In the matter of In re: Paul Rodrigues, Complaint No. 2014-8, unanimously voted to find that probable cause does not exist to believe that the Respondent violated the Code of Ethics as alleged in the Complaint. The Complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

Unanimously voted to initially determine that the facts alleged in In re: Susan Cicilline-Buonanno, Complaint No. 2015-3, if true, are sufficient to constitute a knowing and willful violation of the Code of Ethics and authorized an investigation.