September 22, 2018
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City council says ethics vote could have been handled better

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
File photo of Bangor City Hall
By Alex Acquisto, BDN Staff

A public meeting last month over whether to trigger an ethics investigation into a city councilor’s actions could have been handled better, some council members said.

The Bangor City Council met on Tuesday to discuss the city’s code of ethics following its vote to launch a formal investigation into whether Councilor Cary Weston broke city rules by failing to disclose financial conflicts.

The January city council meeting was fraught with tension and finger-pointing — a process many councilors said they regret.

Some councilors said they wish they had met one more time to answer questions before holding a vote over whether to forward the case to the city’s ethics board, which later cleared Weston.

“We are all peers, not political enemies, but that’s how it came across. That sort of decor needs to change,” Councilor Sarah Nichols said. “It felt like the way it was set up was very judgmental.”

Weston did not violate conflict of interest rules when he failed to disclose his marketing firm’s ongoing relationship with a local tourism board that receives city money, the ethics board ruled.

The council should have had an additional workshop to discuss the case before sending it straight to a formal meeting, Nichols said. By having more time to talk about it, some councilors believe the inevitable decision to send it to the ethics board could have been less tense.

Weston requested last month that the council schedule the Tuesday workshop to talk through the city’s rules involving disclosing conflicts of interest and ethical behavior. He did not attend the workshop, saying he had to watch his children.

His absence was briefly noted.

“This was kind of pushed forth to have a discussion by Councilor Weston, and it’s unfortunate he couldn’t be here,” Councilor Gibran Graham said.

It is unclear whether the council will hold another workshop on the ethics issue.

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