Bradford Trustee Jocelyn Pickett is back to business as usual after a conflict of interest charge last month.
Her accuser, Trustee Chairman Robert Feuerstein, has submitted his resignation from the board.
Pickett attended executive session discussions about the police chief and constable & #039;s salary at the joint village trustee and selectmen & #039;s meeting last night. She has been dating Gene Martin, constable and chief of police in Bradford, for about a year.
Citing concern last month about their personal relationship when it comes to talking about money matters, Chairman Feuerstein publicly asked Pickett to withdraw from parts of the Nov. 29 meeting.
Feuerstein resigned by letter to Town Clerk Louise Allen at last night & #039;s meeting, citing the need to spend more time on domestic matters.
Nobody at the meeting brought up the conflict of interest issue he raised except Joe Sampson, chairman of the board of selectmen.
"The way I understand it is that it is up to Jocelyn," Sampson said, adding that neither the town nor the village have the right to tell her what to do on the subject.
As it turns out, there are no laws preventing Pickett from sitting in on discussions and voting on Martin & #039;s salary.
A letter dated Dec. 6 from attorney Richard A. Cawley to Sampson states that because there is no statutory mandate regarding conflicts of interest, the decision to withdraw rests with the individual.
But there are also suggestions within the document for public officials to withdraw from any appearance of influencing a situation that will financially impact a family member or business associate.
Cawley attached text from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns stating that any appearance of impropriety should be avoided when the public official will decide on matters with a financial outcome to affect a spouse, household member, business associate, employer or employee.
Citing a relative lack of involvement with the situation, Cawley said Tuesday he would not talk to the press without being directed by Sampson to do so.
Pickett submitted a letter defending her decision to participate on matters concerning the police chief. The letter states, "I was inappropriately asked to recuse myself from all dealings, discussion and decision making regarding the police department. This is in direct violation of my rights as an elected official."
The letter also stated her personal relationship with the police chief will not get in the way of her attempt to benefit the taxpayers as a whole: "As an elected official, my first responsibility is to the people."
In private session last night, the trustees and selectmen voted to give town employees a 3 percent raise in salary. In a second executive session, trustees and selectmen gave Martin a raise.
Cash In Lieu Of Insurance
Martin, like all town employees, no longer has a cash in lieu of insurance option, as discussed last month. There were only three full-time people and one half-time person receiving cash in lieu of insurance, not eight people as incorrectly stated at the Nov. 29 meeting.
Selectman Joel Moore reiterated his disagreement with the option of taking cash in lieu of insurance away from those employees already receiving it.
"It looks like a 26 percent cut in income," he said. "I don & #039;t think anyone of us would want to take that cut."
Selectman Roger Courtemanche disagreed, saying, "I don & #039;t feel we & #039;ve taken anything from anyone. We have a much more equitable situation now."