Enfield official rules town ethics ordinance does not apply
By Anne Pallivathuckal
ENFIELD - An investigation prompted by Mayor Patrick L. Tallarita, a Democrat, into the conduct of Republican Town Chairwoman Mary Ann R. Turner has found Turner did nothing wrong when she spoke to a contractor renovating the high schools' athletic fields.
In a Sept. 25 memo sent to Tallarita and Town Council members, Town Attorney Christopher Bromson said that the town's ethics ordinance does not apply to local party committee chairmen.
For Tallarita, the question of misconduct arose from a conversation Turner had last April with the contractor working on the renovation of the high schools' athletic fields.
In the memo, Bromson wrote that the town ethics ordinance applies only to public officials and municipal employees. Public officials include elected officers and individuals appointed by the council, school board, or town manager.
"Accordingly, holding the position of party committee chair in and of itself would not fit either of the descriptions above," Bromson said in the memo. "Therefore, the ethics ordinance would not apply."
Turner responded to those findings today saying, "I was pretty positive that I hadn't done anything wrong. I was surprised by the investigation in the first place but I'm satisfied that the town attorney did his job."
She added, "I'm just glad it's taken care of and my name is cleared."
Tallarita said today that while Turner can't be held accountable under the town ethics ordinance, he still believes she overstepped her boundaries and put the project in jeopardy.
Tallarita added that he would not be pursuing the issue further.
Last week, Tallarita had asked Bromson and Town Manager Matthew W. Coppler to determine whether Turner acted inappropriately when, during a conversation with an official at the Atlantic Lining Co. - the contractor doing the field renovation of the athletic fields - she reportedly degraded a town employee who is also working on the project.
Turner admitted that she did contact an official at Atlantic Lining Co. after reading in the newspaper in April that the firm had been awarded the contract for the high school renovations. She denied, however, that she spoke about a town employee.
Republicans had characterized Tallarita's move as political, with the municipal election less than two months away.
Tallarita said today that he "had every right to look into it" and said that it was no different from any council member asking the town manager and attorney to investigate any other issue, such as citizens' complaints.
District 3 Councilman Scott R. Kaupin, the Republican minority leader, said today the investigation was not an official one because that requires the approval of the majority of the council.
"It has always only risen to the level of a political ploy," Kaupin said. "At this time of the year when parties are campaigning, people try to create headlines and in this case it's a headline."