Letter: Don't support changes to ethics procedures
To the Editor:
Consider the following scenario.You are accused of violating the Trumbull Code of Ethics. You believe you acted in good faith and are prepared to defend yourself before the Trumbull Ethics Commission. Before your hearing, the person accusing you withdraws the complaint but the commission moves forward anyway. You issue a valid subpoena to the accuser whose testimony is critical. That person refuses to honor the subpoena and does not show up. The commission moves forward anyway and rules against you even though the complaint was withdrawn and you were unable to confront your accuser. Does this sound fair?
It isn’t fair and if you vote yes on Charter Question 2 that is the nightmare scenario you may face. One element of Question 2 is the proposed ELIMINATION of the Charter protection where you have the right to confront your accuser in an ethics proceeding. Some argue that the Ethics Commission is not a criminal proceeding and this fundamental 6th Amendment right does not apply. While that may be legally correct, the Ethics Commission, by its ruling, could have a negative impact on your reputation and livelihood. I believe principles of fundamental fairness and due process must apply in an ethics investigation including the right to confront your accuser.
Our Code of Ethics must be updated and the proceedings of the Ethics Commission must be revamped. However, reducing the protections afforded a Town official or employee is not the answer. Protect your rights, vote fairness, vote NO on Question 2.