Docket No. 606
In the Matter of Patricia A. Doyle
Date: August 24, 2000
The State Ethics Commission ("the Commission') and Patricia A.
Doyle ("Doyle") enter into this Disposition Agreement ("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, s.40).
On May 12, 1999, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c.
268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into
possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A,
by Doyle. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on December
15, 1999, found reasonable cause to believe that Doyle violated
G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Doyle now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Doyle was, during the time relevant, an elected member of
the Weymouth Park Commission. As such, Doyle was a municipal
employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1.
2. The Park Commission is responsible for overseeing the Parks
and Recreation Department ("the Parks Department") for the town of
Weymouth. The Park Commission has the authority to hire and fire
all Parks Department employees. The Park Commission also has the
authority to recommend salaries and personnel changes for the Parks
3. In 1998, Doyle's brother Mike ("Mike") was the park ranger
for the Parks Department; he worked at the town-owned Great Esker
Park and was then at the top step of his pay scale, with an annual
salary of about $36,000. The Park Commission had appointed Mike to
his position about ten years earlier.
4. In January 1998, the Park Commission began discussing a
number of personnel issues regarding the Parks Department staff.
Among their concerns were expanding Mike's duties and increasing
his compensation. Ultimately, the Park Commission decided to
recommend to the town that two new positions be created. One new
position was recreation coordinator. The other position was
essentially a reclassification of Mike's park ranger position, to
be called park superintendent. The park superintendent position was
intended to incorporate Mike's duties as park ranger and utilize
Mike's other abilities, while appropriately compensating him
therefor. Thus, the intent behind the reclassification was to
promote Mike from park ranger to park superintendent.
5. Doyle spoke at the January 13, 1998 meeting of the Park
Commission when the Commission began discussing these 'personnel
changes. Doyle emphasized that they would need to justify their
presentation before the personnel board and appropriation
committee, because the Park Commission did not make very good
presentations to the town boards and, as a result, did not always
get what it wanted.
6. At its January 19, 1998 meeting, the Park Commission,
including Doyle, again discussed the personnel changes. Doyle
stated that she supported the new recreation coordinator position;
she also supported informational talks first, so that they could
convince the personnel board to agree to the positions requested.
There was further discussion on presentation strategy. The chair
felt that the recreation coordinator position was more saleable to
the town than the park superintendent position; he was also in
favor of combining the park ranger and park superintendent into one
position, setting it at Level 12.
7. At the meeting, Doyle then moved to create the position
entitled "park superintendent" which would include the duties of
park ranger, with the pay scale set at Level 12. The motion passed
unanimously. Another commissioner then moved to establish the
position of full-time "Recreation Coordinator," also Level 12.
Before voting on the motion, the Commission discussed
reclassification "which would allow the Board to hire from within."
The motion passed unanimously.
8. On January 27, 1998, the Park Commission reviewed draft job
descriptions for the coordinator and superintendent positions. The
Commission (including Doyle) voted unanimously to approve the job
9. On March 17, 1998, the personnel board met with members of
the Park Commission (including Doyle) to discuss the Park
Commission's request to reclassify the park ranger to park
superintendent and recommend an additional full-time position of
coordinator. The board suggested that the Park Commission include
funding for the staff changes in the budget in anticipation of the
special Town Meeting that summer or fall, and then create the new
position and reclassification in conjunction with the new personnel
10. In or about November 1998, Town Meeting approved funding
for the Parks Department staff changes. After filling the new
recreation coordinator position, the town through its personnel
board reclassified the park ranger position as park superintendent,
with a salary of $39,000. The Park Commission, with Doyle
abstaining, promoted Mike into the reclassified position.
Consequently, Mike received a significant raise and advanced to the
first step on a new pay scale.
11. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee
from participating as such an employee in a particular matter in
which, to her knowledge, an immediate family member has a financial
12. The town's decision to reclassify Mike's park ranger
position as park superintendent in late 1998 or early 1999 was a
13. Doyle participated in that particular matter as a
member of the Park Commission in early 1998 by recommending that
the town implement the reclassification. Specifically, Doyle
discussed the proposed reclassification on January 13 and 19, 1998,
made the motion on the park superintendent position on January 19,
voted in favor of the motion on January 19,1998.
14. As Doyle's brother, Mike is a member of Doyle's immediate
15. Mike had a financial interest in the particular matter
because the new park superintendent position was essentially a
reclassification of his park ranger position. If Mike were promoted
to fill the park superintendent position, he would immediately
receive a raise in salary and advance to a new pay scale.
16. At the time of her participation, Doyle knew that the park
superintendent position was designed to reclassify Mike's park
ranger position and increase his duties and compensation. Thus,
Doyle knew that Mike had a financial interest in the particular
matter in which she participated.
17. According to Doyle, however, when she so participated she
did not view her brother as having a financial interest in the Park
Commission's actions because no reclassification or raise could
occur unless and until the personnel board reclassified the
position and town meeting approved the funding. Moreover, Doyle was
not thinking of her brother's interests when she so acted, but was
concerned about doing what was best for the town. Nevertheless,
Doyle's brother had a reasonably foreseeable financial interest in
the Park Commission's actions, even at this early stage and even
though the Park Commission's recommendation of the personnel
changes was not the final determinative step in the
18. Accordingly, by participating in the particular matter
concerning the reclassification of her brother Mike's position, in
which Mike had a financial interest, Doyle violated s. 19.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Doyle,
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 Doyle:
(1) that Doyle pay to the Commission the sum of five hundred
dollars ($500) as a civil penalty for violating s. 19; and
(2) that Doyle waive all rights to contest the findings of
fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in
this Agreement in this or any other related administrative or
judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a
 "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, s. 1(k).
 "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, s.10).
 "Immediate family" means the employee and his spouse, and
their parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A,
 "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 ECCOI-84-98. The interest can be affected in
either a positive or negative way. EC-COI-84-96.
End of Decision