DISPOSITION AGREEMENT

 

The State Ethics Commission and Priscilla Baez ("Baez") enter into this Disposition Agreement pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(j).

On July 17, 2009, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into Baez' possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. The Commission concluded its inquiry and, on December 18, 2009, found reasonable cause to believe that Baez violated G.L. c. 268A, § 19.

The Commission and Baez now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 

Findings of Fact

1. Baez was during the time relevant an elected City of Lawrence School Committee member. As such, Baez was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, § 1(g).

2. As of August 21, 2008, Baez' brother was employed by the Lawrence School Department in the position of Urban Affairs Liaison at a salary of $54,105.

3. On August 21, 2008, the Lawrence School Superintendent sought approval from the School Committee to create the paid position of Special Assistant to the Superintendent ("Special Assistant position").

4. The Superintendent planned to hire Baez' brother into the Special Assistant position and eliminate the Urban Affairs Liaison position.

5. On August 21, 2008, Baez knew that the Special Assistant position was being created for her brother.

6. On August 21, 2008, Baez voted as a School Committee member to approve the Special Assistant position.

7. On September 11, 2008, Baez voted as a School Committee member for final approval and adoption of the Special Assistant position.

8. When Baez voted on August 21 and September 11, 2008, she knew that the salary of the Special Assistant position would be likely higher than the Urban Affairs Liaison position.

9. On September 30, 2008, the Lawrence School Superintendent hired Baez' brother for the Special Assistant position at a salary of $69,104.

 

Conclusions of Law

 

10. Except as otherwise permitted by exemptions to the section, [1]  § 19 of G.L.c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from participating [2]  as such an employee in a particular matter [3]  in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family member [4]  has a financial interest. [5]

11. The request for approval of the Special Assistant position was a particular matter.

12. Baez, as a Lawrence School Committee member, participated in that particular matter by twice voting to approve the job description for the Special Assistant position.

13. Baez' brother is a member of Baez' immediate family.

14. Baez' brother had a financial interest in the particular matter because it involved a paid position that was being created for him with a salary that was likely higher than his Urban Affairs Liaison position.

15. At the time of her participation, Baez knew that her brother had a financial interest in the particular matter.

16. Accordingly, by participating in the particular matter concerning the Special Assistant position that the Lawrence School Superintendent had created for Baez' brother, Baez violated § 19.

In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Baez, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings, on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by Baez:
 

(1) that Baez pay to the Commission the sum of $2,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, § 19; and,

(2) that Baez waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.

 

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

 

By:

    //signed//                        12/18/09     
Priscilla Baez                         Date

 

    //signed//                        2/24/10    
Karen L. Nober                     Date

 

I, Priscilla Baez, have personally read the above Disposition Agreement. I understand that it is a public document and that by signing it, I will have agreed to all of the terms and conditions therein including payment of $2,000 to the State Ethics Commission.

 

    //signed//                        12/18/09    
Priscilla Baez                         Date

 

 


 

[1] None of the exemptions applies.

[2] "Participate" means to participate in agency action or in a particular matter personally and substantially as a state, county or municipal employee, through approval, disapproval, decision, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation or otherwise. G.L. c. 268A, §1(j).

[3] "Particular matter" means any judicial or other proceeding, application, submission, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest, decision, determination, finding, but excluding enactment of general legislation by the general court and petitions of cities, towns, counties and districts for special laws related to their governmental organizations, powers, duties, finances and property. G.L. c. 268A, § 1(k).

[4] "Immediate family" means the employee and his spouse, and their parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A, § 1(e).

[5] "Financial interest" means any economic interest of a particular individual that is not shared with a substantial segment of the population of the municipality. See Graham v. McGrail, 370 Mass. 133 (1976). This definition has embraced private interests, no matter how small, which are direct, immediate or reasonably foreseeable. See EC-COI-84-98. The interest can be affected in either a positive or negative way. EC-COI-84-96.