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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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dan January 18, 2014 at 08:59 AM
If the ethics committe is looking at this hiring (which was no big deal he has the experience needed for the position) then they need to review every position with in the town that is unelected and see all the nepotism that is involved in the town. For example look at the school board and the school system. It runs from rampent but who cares if the person is the best canidate fir the job.
kathy johnson January 18, 2014 at 09:05 AM
By the way their are other more important issues brewing. Anne and the ODTC should be attending the BOS meetings and the other board meetings in town. Who is advising her? I think I know.
kathy johnson January 18, 2014 at 09:17 AM
Remember when President John F. Kennedy hired his own brother as Attorney General.
laz January 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Wayne has done an excellent job his entire history in Oxford and if the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" Oxford has nothing but a benefit coming.
Bonnie January 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM
I'm just wondering if the women that started this ball rolling has a person issue with either of the Wyatt's? Can this be all a person issue with her? I'm so confused over this entire issue, I'm not big into politics as you can probably tell. I am just trying to figure out why she found the hiring of Wayne's son a huge issue especially if he was already working with the town! I also think that Wayne will be tougher on his son than others because his son isn't going to lodge a complaint against his father if he's got to be reprimanded for something. Maybe this women will reconsider and she will withdrawl her complaint. Perhaps someone will talk her out of opening a can of worms. I'm afraid that others look at the town of Oxford as a joke with all the times it's been in the news.
Janis Hardy January 18, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Unfortunately it is a proven fact that in ALL public-sector hiring it is WHO you know, not WHAT you know! Both sides hire and/or appoint their cronies when the opportunity exists, therefore neither side has the right to complain when it happens. Politics is a war, running is a campaign, therefore, to the victor belong the spoils! Voters should realize that one of the reasons people run for high office is to obtain the power to both serve their personal or party's political interests and to appoint their cronies to political offices or jobs. Unfair? Only when it doesn't work both ways. I am so glad my son never accepted an offer to work in Public Works, even though he had applied, worked part-time as well, and is qualified.
kathy johnson January 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM
Janis you said it best. To the victor go the spoils. I refused to have my street repaired while I was in office because I knew it would look like favoratism. You were always an honest and fair person unfortunatly in politics even in this town it does not get you far. Bonnie ,Anne does not have an ax to grind she is trying to display a show of strength. She has picked the wrong issue. I feel sorry for Wayne he does not deserve this. By the way the ethics complaint was misplaced as the BOS does the hiring in town.
Bonnie January 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM
@Kathy Johnson, Thank You for answering my question! I also agree that I don't think Wayne deserves this! Just because it's his son that was hired I don't think he deserves this crap that's been put in his lap! I really hope that people don't start making complaints just for revenge. I work for/with my dad and let me say he will reprimand me sooner than he will anyone else! I just feel like someone is upset because they didn't get their own way. Just my thought!!
Peter Bunzl January 20, 2014 at 04:10 PM
In response to Bonnie. Your father as a private business owner has the right to hire whoever he wishes. Working for the town, the state, the county, and the federal government there are hiring guidelines that are in place and should be adhered to. Normally a job is posted. Applicants apply for the position. Resumes are reviewed and quite possibly interviews are held. Then a decision is made as to who is the best candidate for any given position. To the best of my knowledge Ms. Krane's complaint attempts to address the issue as to whether or not certain guidelines were adhered to regarding this hire. An ethics committee review of this issue would go a long way in helping to clear up the matter and would help the town and the individuals involved erase any concerns residents might have about this matter..
zb06478 January 20, 2014 at 04:50 PM
i hope you seen that mrs. ann krane had made the ethics complaint as a oxford resident , and it had nothing to do with the democratic party or the( odtc) oxford democratic town committee
Publicola January 21, 2014 at 01:44 PM
Thank you Mr. Bunzl for bringing light to this issue. Until now, I have felt extremely naive believing that Mrs. Krane's intent could be fully, or partially, politically motivated. Being the truly civic minded individual that you present her to be, I do wish she would expand her complaint to include Mr. McKane. I can't help but question if the same rules and guidelines that you suggest were followed for that hire. And since you so strongly defend Mrs. Krane's action, let's go a step farther with this. Should we investigate the hiring history within the Town Clerk's office?
Fed Up January 21, 2014 at 02:10 PM
Should we also look into the hiring of Augie Palmers wife Patty who worked for several years as Clerk to P&Z,McKanes wife Linda who works in Town Clerks office,and hired when McKane was on BOS,Dave McKanes hire that was never posted.When you look at the hiring process in Oxford as a whole it is not done properly.Jobs not posted,many new hires are not qualified to do the jobs they are hired to do.Why does P&Z need to ZEOs.Where does it end and where does it start to make thing more transparent.
Peter Bunzl January 21, 2014 at 02:24 PM
Publicola I noted a hint of cynicism in your reply. No I don't think we should go back beyond Ms. Krane's original inquiry. But, as it seems from your post, you might have a problem with other hires from the past, then have the courage to make your complaint public and put it in writing as Ann Krane has. You have the same right as an Oxford resident to make your feelings known about any issue. It isn't easy to do what Ms. Krane has done. I might not agree with her feelings about this, but I certainly admire her courage in putting herself out there and posing a legitimate question she has about a hiring. To Fed Up, in my opinion you posed a perfectly legitimate question when you asked "where does it end and where does it start to make things more transparent". Maybe it starts right here. Maybe the public's awareness of Ann Krane's complaint will start the transparency you are looking for.
kathy johnson January 22, 2014 at 04:05 PM
When the ethics committee rules in favor of the town then what? I still do not think this complaint should have been made in the first place and especially not against Wayne. The BOS does the hiring and Selectman Mc Kane recused himself from the vote to hire Waynes son. How can this ethics complaint be anything but political? Anne had plenty of opportunity over the last several years to complain about how the town hires people. So now after so many Democrats have resigned from the ODTC she decides that she wants to take a stand on any issue she can lay her hands on? This smacks of revenge. All she deserves is a vote of no confidence at the next ODTC meeting. Its time for a new Chair. I notice that you Peter are no longer on the ODTC and have given up the Chairmanship in the past. The fact that many hard working long time members of the ODTC have resigned over the last five years speaks volumes.
kathy johnson January 22, 2014 at 04:12 PM
Publicola try again you are sooo trasparent. Lets see if you can resist attacking me in retaliation for this comment.
kathy johnson January 22, 2014 at 04:13 PM
I must really be board today to even comment.
kathy johnson January 22, 2014 at 04:16 PM
I know,, I know I spelled bored wrong!
Publicola January 22, 2014 at 04:43 PM
Mrs. Johnson, I'm not sure what the "transparency" comment is intended to mean, but I respect your honesty on the matter of the ODTC. Both of Oxford's political parties have troublesome issues which keep good people from getting involved. In the case of the ODTC, I believe the issues are greater, a fact supported by the loss of members and the inability to maintain a full compliment of members. Take away one each of the spouses and the picture worsens. Add to the story some of the outright attacks against people, and then ask yourself, "Who would want to be associated with or involved with the ODTC?". Again, the ORTC is no prize package, however collectively as a group, they have demonstrated a slightly higher level of character. They have also managed to maintain full membership over the years, even with their internal personality conflicts.
carol January 22, 2014 at 09:26 PM
Although Ms. Krane’s ethics’ complaint has nothing to do with the ODTC, your post clearly suggests that it does. I’m here only to respond to your insults regarding Oxford Democrats. The ODTC, as I know it today, is being built upon solid ground. If the ORTC has “more” members, the demographics in our town dictate the double-number membership. As you well know, Republicans outnumber Democrats here by 2:1, minimum. Oxford Democrats have much character. Oxford Democratic values are inclusive of all people. They are frugal an and not known to raise the mil rate by such levels as we have experienced within the last 2 years. Oxford Democrats are known to generate substantial economic development. The Oxford Republicans and this administration have done nothing to generate economic development to offset residential taxes whatsoever. I do not want to debate any issue with you, but I will clarify some important facts that you conveniently distorted. Please do not reply to me as I will not reply to you. Also, please be careful in your misrepresentations. They will not stand because they are not true.
Will Wilkin January 23, 2014 at 08:30 AM
Janis puts it well above. And that is the main reason our country would be better off without political parties. They divide the citizenry and create loyalties that trump the good of the community. They distract from the real issues and policy choices by provoking knee-jerk reactions from partisans and suspicion of motives in everyone else.
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Will ,no matter how many groups of political partys we create human nature stays the same. We voters have the ability to impose term limits on all politicians if we choose to. No one should go to Washington and make it their career. Just likew the presidency all elected officials should have a term limit. We the people can choose to vote our legislators out every 12 years. Politics should not be any one persons rice bowl it should be ever persons civic duty.
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Publicola I am personal friends with Dave Mc Kane and maybe I get defensive when he is criticized. Having said that Janis was right in her assesment of how politics enters into many aspects of how we politicians perform. I for one ran because I thought I could improve our town and so did Janis and so did Dave Mc Kane and many others. This ethics complaint is not going to help our town or my party. The truth is that there are enough of us old timers who could put Humpty Dumpty together again but it is time for the younger generation in town to take up the torch in both parties. I truly believe that Anne Krane should step down as Chair of the ODTC and a younger generation should lead.
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 11:27 AM
Nice try Carol but I do not see it your way. You are another person who was once chair for a short time for the Dems and left. I have never seen the Demacrats this weak in the 38 years I have lived in Oxford. There was a time that the Dems consistantly had 25 or more people on the committee. Many have chaired the ODTC but none have chaired for more years than Kate and me. Before you take the time to criticize me remember that I left for ethical and moral reasons when I saw the direction our party was headed just to win an election and only by the skin of our teeth.
Publicola January 23, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Mrs. Johnson, I see you as a nice person and have no issue with you. Concerning Mr. McKane, I truly believe he should have walked away from the $10K salary Selectmen position when he became a PWs employee. Between that and his wife's employment, there are simply too many topics which he should by right, recuse himself from. On the subject of recusing himself, he has been very vocal on this matter with respect to others. I was bothered when I read in Voices last night how he interjected his belief on how the acquisition of PWs vehicles should be financed. By his own standard which he has made public numerous times, Mr. McKane should remain silent on all matters concerning Public Works, the Town Clerk's Office, all salary and union issues, and all capital equiptment related to PWs.
Peter Bunzl January 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM
My friend Kathy Johnson. The first thought I had when I read your recent posts was "lighten up". I really don't see why you are going after Ann Krane as you have been. Ann made this complaint as a private citizen. It was other posts here at patches that brought others working at town hall into this issue. I'm sure that was not her (Ann's) intent. I'm at a loss why you want to criticize the ODTC. Whatever number of members it has it can still function. I'm sure those members are as dedicated to it's principles as you and I once were and still might be. As a former chair I'm sure your aware of how arduous and time consuming the chair can be. Give Ann Krane a break. It's one thing to not agree with some of her decisions but it's quite another to publicly ask her to step down. Ann should step down when she feels she has had enough. I agree with you that both town parties should bring in new, younger members. If you can find them then let both chairs of both parties know who they are. I'm certain that Ann would relinquish the chair of the ODTC if someone younger and as dedicated and as knowledgeable as she is was ready to step into that role.
kathy johnson January 23, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Ok Peter I will lighten up. In your heart you know that many of us were treated like dirt and second rate members of the ODTC. No one gave me or Dave a break. Every time I tryed to run on our ticket I was blackballed. As much as I tryed I was purposly left out. No one gave me a break. Dave needed a job and he took it. If any of you would bother to attend the BOS meetings you would know that Dave does right by the town. As far as Daves comments on the public works trucks are concerned the bottom line is that they are falling appart. The town commmittee had agreed not to run a first selectman candidate but we ran one anyway. By the way I understand that Dot Bartimole our former registrar of voters has passed and calling hours are tonight at Hulls. She was a person who put her whole heart and soul into our party and her husband John was chair of the Dems for many years and a former Mayor of Derby.
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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