Related to:
Settlement

Settlement In the Matter of Marilyn Mondeau

Date: 03/11/1996
Organization: State Ethics Commission
Docket Number: 545

Disposition Agreement

The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Marilyn Mondeau ("Mondeau") enter into this Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") pursuant to s.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.4(j).  

On November 15, 1995, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Mondeau. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on February 14, 1996, found reasonable cause to believe that Mondeau violated G.L. c. 268A, s.19. 

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

1. Mondeau has been an appointed member of the East Bridgewater Wage & Personnel Board (the "Board") since July 1994. As such, Mondeau is a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1. 

2. The Board has jurisdiction over wage and personnel issues affecting non-union town employees.[1] (Policies affecting unionized positions are determined by the Board of Selectmen.)[2] 

3. Jeanne Bennett ("Bennett") is Mondeau's daughter. Bennett has been the Police Department administrative specialist since 1990. 

4. During a Board meeting on March 15, 1995, Mondeau seconded a motion to maintain an existing wage pay grid for non- union administrative positions.[3] The motion carried unanimously. The Board also voted to increase each step in the grid by 3% to reflect a cost of living adjustment. Mondeau participated in the discussion and voting of these matters. 

5. The 3% increase would allow anyone below step 6, the highest step on the grid, to receive a step increase and the 3% increase until they reached step 6. Other than the director of Elder Affairs, Bennett was the only employee who had not yet reached step 6. 

6. As of March 15, 1995, Bennett was at step 4 in her position. Under the amended wage grid, which first had to be approved by Town Meeting, Bennett's pay would increase between 6% and 7% (from $25,348 to $27,277). 

7. When she discussed and voted in favor of maintaining the grid and approving a 3% across-the-board increase, Mondeau was aware that her daughter was one of the employees not yet at the highest step. 

8. The grid was approved by town meeting vote in June 1995. 

9. General Law c. 268A, s.19, in pertinent part, prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such in a particular matter[4] in which to her knowledge a member of her immediate family[5] has a financial interest.  

10. The decisions to maintain the wage grid and to approve an across-the-board 3% increase for non-union administrative employees were particular matters. 

11. Mondeau participated[6] in those particular matters by discussing both issues, seconding the motion regarding the grid, and voting in favor of maintaining the grid and approving the 3% increase. 

12. Mondeau's daughter had a financial interest in those decisions by virtue of the fact that as the Police Department administrative assistant not yet at the top step on the wage grid, she had an interest in the grid being maintained, as well as an obvious interest in any across-the-board increase. 

13. Mondeau was aware of her daughter's financial interest in these matters. 

14. Therefore, by acting as described above, Mondeau participated as a Wage & Personnel Board member in a particular matter in which to her knowledge a family member had a financial interest, thereby violating s.19.[7] 

15. Mondeau cooperated with the Commission's investigation. 

In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Mondeau, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings, on 

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the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by Mondeau: 

(1) that Mondeau pay to the Commission the sum of five hundred dollars ($500) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19; 

(2) that Mondeau 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 party. 

[1] Planning Board clerk, Police Department administrative specialist, Water Department administrative assistant, Elder Affairs director, and selectmen administrative assistant (as of October 1, 1995).  

[2] The three members of the Board of Selectmen also serve as members of the Wage & Personnel Board. 

[3] This grid consists of six grade steps. 

[4] "Particular matter," 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).  

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

[6] "Participate," 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.1(j). 

[7] In her defense, Mondeau observes that she believed she could participate because these matters involved several people, and not just her daughter. Mondeau was mistaken in her understanding. The Commission has made clear that a municipal employee may not participate in a raise affecting an immediate family member even if it also involves many other municipal employees. In re Goudreault, 1987 SEC 280 (disposition agreement in which a Haverhill city councilor paid a $500 fine for violating s.19 by participating as a city councilor in approving a two-page schedule of proposed salary increases for city employees, including her brother as mayor). 

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