Ethics Board Chair: Mea Culpa


A purported ruling by the Weston Board of Ethics that Selectwoman Amy Jenner had violated the town’s Code of Ethics was, in fact, a draft that the board had not met to consider or to hear Ms. Jenner’s defense. At the moment, the complaint stands, but the ethics board, as a result of the error, cannot take further action on it.

In the following April 2 letter to the Selectmen, who intend to consider discharging all or some members of the ethics board, its chair issues a mea culpa.

RE: The potential removal of current members of the Weston Board of Ethics

Dear Selectmen:

I made a singularly stupid mistake. In my haste to deliver our Ethics Board’s advisory opinion on the matter of Mark Harper’s ethics complaint against Selectman Jenner, I unintentionally overlooked two important details of our Weston Code of Ethics. My Board had nothing to do with these two violations — it was my error alone.

Firstly, upon receipt of Mr. Harper’s complaint, I should have notified Ms. Jenner of that filing and secondly, I did not give her an opportunity to meet with and respond to the complaint with the Board prior to our determination. I’m the one who pressed “send” — the Board did not know I was going to do it.

I am very sorry for this breach and apologize to Ms. Jenner for the denial of her rights. I hope the Selectmen conclude that the rest of the Board were entirely innocent in this affair. It would be very wrong if pejoration is passed on them purely by association with me and my error.

In all of this, there was no “Willful malfeasance, willful neglect of duty, inability to serve, conviction of a felony, abandonment of office.” I can see, however, that it could be considered on my part only, a “material violation of Article 10 or the Town’s Code of Ethics.”

My error came not from any unethical, political or personal bias, but from 40 years as a business owner with 50 employees, where I acted swiftly on all manner of issues with the wisdom of Solomon. Now retired and a private citizen volunteering in the public sector, that former management muscle memory affected my judgment and had me acting too quickly without reviewing those two key procedural details of the Weston Code. The Board’s opinion was derived and delivered improperly because of my inattention to those details.

In our politically contentious climate, some folks may be enraptured with the prospect of uncovering imaginary plots and intrigues here, but there was no hidden agenda, involvements, collusions, or political subterfuge. One can go back to September 2020 when I came on this Board and see the meeting videos [link below] to judge my (and the Board’s) comportment and character.

I have never cared about, hosted, or participated in any political event. I have never met, nor do I know much of anything about Selectman Jenner, other than I must surely have caused her much unintended angst. I regret this deeply and am truly sorry for this and whatever additional turmoil it has caused the Town. It was simply my own misjudgment in wanting to get the task of rendering an opinion done quickly and what I thought to be, efficiently.

As a volunteer Board, we were appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Selectmen. If they conclude we have no chance of redemption for my error, then I fully accept it is within their ken to terminate my service, but not that of the rest of the Board. Politically correct optics may be the driving impetus to dismiss me, but to do so would be the diminution of the spirit of community service. I wish to “retrain” and continue my service to the Town.

In the Weston of today, is there no precedent or chance for redemption?

William Weiss
Chair, Weston Board of Ethics

Board of Ethics meeting videos

Related Stories:

December 7, 2022:  Ethics Panel Cites Jenner, Errs in Process

November 4, 2022:  Selectmen Vote 2–1 to Table Union Complaint

November 1, 2022:  Town Hall Union Files Complaint

October 12, 2022:  Letter to the Editor, Cathleen Neblett

October 4, 2022:  Letter to the Editor, Amy Jenner

September 26, 2022:  Restaurant Equipment Tax Auction, October 21

Also in Weston Today...