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Ethics Complaint Going to Hearing

The Oxford Board of Ethics will discuss a complaint from a resident alleging a conflict of interest and nepotism.

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
The Oxford Board of Ethics will be weighing the merits Tuesday night of a resident's complaint alleging a conflict of interest about a recent hire in the Department of Public Works.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Oxford Town Hall.

The complaint was brought forth earlier this month by Ann Krane. Krane did not lodge the complaint in her official capacity as the chairman of the Oxford Democratic Town Committee; she did so as a resident.

Krane is asking the Ethics Board to determine if there was a conflict of interest when the the town hired Derek Watt to work for Public Works, because his father, Wayne, is the director of the department. In addition to Wayne Watt, her complaint names First Selectman George Temple and the Board of Selectmen, which approved the hiring at its meeting on Dec. 18, 2013.

"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 stated in a press release. "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.”

Residents were quick to weigh in on her complaint in the comments on an Oxford Patch article.

Some said it was frivolous, and politically motivated. 

"As long as young Mr. Watt pulls his weight and performs well, I'm not terribly disturbed. The worst part of all this, is that Mrs. Krane is creating another useless issue, which I'm sure will cost taxpayers and waste time," Publicola wrote.

"One must consider the source. It's the Oxford Democratic Party chairperson. This is typical bad behavior and it is expected of her. After all she is just doing her job," wrote citizen kane.

Others defended Krane's right to bring forth the complaint and said a review of the hiring is not a bad thing.

"Every citizen has a right to publicly bring up an issue that they feel might violate some statue. Why do people feel the need to come down on someone who has the courage and a moral sense to raise an issue. Any issue! There are some important issues that Ms. Krane raises. Does a part time employee take precedent when it comes to a full time hire. I truthfully don't know the answer. But airing this hire publicly when someone has the "chutzpah" to raise it is not a bad idea," Peter Bunzl wrote.

Another resident, JYD, responded: "There's a big difference between asking a question about policy and going straight to filing a complaint. Nobody questioned Anne's right to an opinion. I'm critical of the path she decided to take. Most residents I know tend to ask questions and attempt to understand the process before charging ethics violations. And you may choose to play naive about Anne's views as a resident... However, I have yet to find any actions from Anne like this that are NOT political in nature."
Frank January 28, 2014 at 07:24 AM
Hey look , I'm sure Dereck Watt will do a fine job. But let's not question the integrity or motives of a citizen with a question . Any hint of nepotism is sure to raise some eyebrows. I should think there would be something in the town charter about the hiring of family members.
Frank January 28, 2014 at 07:25 AM
Not that there is anything wrong with it just so the questions are addressed before they are asked
Oxford Citizen January 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM
Cant help but wonder where Oxford would be now had there been 2 relatives working in the same tax collector's office.
Ed Smith January 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM
I haven't known many private citizens to issue a press release.
Publicola January 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Did anyone attend this? I'm curious if the discussion was solely focused on Mr. Watt, or if it encompassed all the questionable hires going back over time and other administrations? One might question why this issue has not been challenged by Ethics boards of the past.
kathy johnson January 29, 2014 at 03:19 PM
I too am wondering how this played out last night. Does anyone know?
town news January 29, 2014 at 05:27 PM
Ask Ann Krane.
kathy johnson January 30, 2014 at 08:03 AM
Ok I will. Anne Krane how did things work out?
JYD January 31, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Minutes from the meeting at this link. Committee found unanimously no basis to the complaint. http://www.oxford-ct.gov/lib/site/data/meeting_documents/b4fe89d1bd0822a86c09f9e05f61d4cd/min_1_28_14.PDF

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