MILLINOCKET, Maine — Though he is an education technician employed by the town school system and the school’s contract negotiating team, Town Councilor Michael Madore will not violate any ethical standards by voting on school matters as a councilor.
That was the opinion Maine Municipal Association lawyer Michael J. Stultz issued late last month. Madore requested an MMA review of his situation almost three weeks ago to ensure that he complied with common ethical standards, particularly regarding conflicts of interests.
Stultz said his review of Millinocket’s charter, state statutes and common law shows no inherent conflict.
“Mr. Madore does not serve on the Millinocket School Board. He is one step removed from the conflict of interest that often characterizes the relationship between a school board and a board of selectmen,” Stultz wrote in his letter dated March 25.
“Further, Maine’s statutory conflicts of interest law even provides that a teacher is not prohibited from making or renewing an employment contract with a municipality while holding the office of selectman. Accordingly, I find no statutory conflict with Councilor Madore from serving on the council.”
As an example, Stultz said that Madore would have a conflict of interest if he served as a school board and council member, “because of the conflicting duties and interests of the school board relative to” the council.
However, Stultz wrote, Maine’s conflict of interest law provides that all municipal officials attempt to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest, so “it may be advisable for Councilor Madore to refrain on occasion from any school issues that tend to arouse community passions.
“Likely these would be budgetary matters, given the council’s budgetary authority under the charter,” Stultz added.
Stultz recommended that Madore abstain from some council discussions and votes — presumably those involving school budgets — though his letter does not state that specifically.
Madore accepted the letter at the council’s meeting last Thursday without comment.