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Claiming Nepotism, Oxford Resident Lodges Ethics Complaint

A complaint says hiring the son of the Director of Public Works for a position in the department is a conflict of interest.

An Oxford Public Works plow truck parked in the department's garage. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
An Oxford Public Works plow truck parked in the department's garage. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre

Disturbed by what she considers nepotism, an Oxford resident has filed an ethics complaint claiming there was a conflict of interest when the town hired the son of the Department of Public Works.

The resident, Ann Krane, names First Selectman George Temple, the Board of Selectmen and the Director of Public Works, Wayne Watt, in her complaint.

"The hiring of a family member to work under the supervision of a parent creates a potentially risky relationship in the management of that department," Krane states in a press release. "This hiring had to have the approval of the Director of the department, the First Selectman and the subsequent approval of the Board of Selectmen."

The Board of Selectmen did approve the hiring at its meeting on Dec. 18, 2013. According to meeting minutes, Derek Watt was hired as a full-time Public Works employee at a pay rate of $21.12 per hour.

The vote was two in favor and one recusal. The minutes did not state who recused them self from the vote, and that information was not immediately available.

During discussion of the hiring, First Selectman George Temple said he has known Watt for quite some time. Watt was employed part-time for the Public Works Department and has his CDL license, the minutes state.

"He is a terrific employee already and is a real good choice," Temple said at the meeting.

Selectman Jeff Haney questioned if this was a new position, and it was noted that an employee had retired so this is a replacement. It was also noted that the starting rate is at 20% less than the highest step.

Krane, who is the chairman of the Democratic Town Committee but filed the petition as a resident, said, "This action is more familiarly known as nepotism and it is disturbing to see this happening in the Town of Oxford as it reflects badly on the integrity of the Town.”

She has requested a complete examination of this hiring as it relates to the Code of Ethics.

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Janis Hardy January 23, 2014 at 05:29 PM
What's really uncomfortable is airing your dirty political laundry in a public forum. It is harmful for the party, and some things are better dealt with in private. Kathy, if there is anything I can say I have learned, it is about burning bridges. Don't you think you have said enough? Janis
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Janis maybe your right but I have never known you to back down even when it came to your own party.
Janis Hardy January 23, 2014 at 05:55 PM
I think it depends on what you are defending. I don't believe I have ever backed away from a position I have taken on any issue that involved the Town. But personal, political party related matters are something else. While these things could be discussed in a personal one-on-one conversation, they do not merit airing out in public. Many of these posts seem to be getting away from the focus of the article. If Anne chose to file this as a 'private citizen' that is her right. Unfortunately, I have learned that once any of us holds a public offfice, and Town Committee Chair is one, we are no longer private citizens, and our actions are always viewed through the position we hold.
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Well said Janis I will take yours and Peters advise.

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