Uxbridge Conservation Commission Member Michael Potaski Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Represented the private Uxbridge Housing Associates before the Conservation Commission in a matter involving Mumford River Condominium Trust
The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which Uxbridge Conservation Commission (“ConCom”) member Michael Potaski (“Potaski”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by appearing on several occasions before the ConCom and by sending an email to the state Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), on behalf of Uxbridge Housing Associates (“UHA”), which owns the 66 unit Crown and Eagle housing development. Potaski paid a $2,500 civil penalty for the violations.
According to the Agreement, Potaski is the unpaid UHA vice president. At the November 5th, November 19th and December 3, 2012 ConCom meetings, Potaski abstained as a ConCom member and then spoke on behalf of UHA to oppose an application for a notice of intent filed by the Mumford River Condominium Trust (“Mumford”), which was seeking a permit to dam and divert a watercourse that flowed underneath its building. The Crown and Eagle housing development is located downstream from the Mumford building. Potaski also sent an email on November 29, 2013 to the DEP in an effort to have DEP intervene in the matter.
Section 17(c) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from, otherwise than in the proper discharge of his official duties, acting as an agent for anyone other than the municipality in connection with a particular matter in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. The Agreement states that Potaski violated section 17(c) by representing UHA at ConCom meetings and by sending the email to the DEP, all in opposition to the Mumford notice of intent.
“The conflict of interest law seeks to prevent divided loyalties”, stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. “Municipal employees therefore cannot represent private business interests before their own municipal boards, even if the private representation involves a non-profit business organization and even if the employee is not paid for that representation.”