The Circuit Court of Talbot County has ruled that the St. Michaels Ethics Commission must hear a conflict-of-interest complaint filed by the St. Michaels Action Committee against Commissioner William Boos.
In May of 2019 the ethics commission dismissed SMAC’s complaint against Boos following a closed hearing on April 25, where SMAC was not notified and therefore could not participate in the proceeding.
SMAC had filed a complaint with the ethics commission on April 10, alleging Boos had a conflict of interest in considering locations for new town hall and police station–due to Boos’ business relationship with The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which had been actively seeking to purchase town owned property at 301 Mill St., a location under consideration for the new town hall.
At the July 11, 2018 Commissioners’ meeting, Boos had recommended a location other than 301 Mill St. for the new town hall.
“At the time Mr. Boos was spearheading the town’s effort to build a new town office,” said a statement from SMAC on Jan. 6. “One of the prime locations available is a large town-owned lot which the museum is actively trying to acquire from the town” at 301 Mill St.
Boos is the Delmarva Regional Manager for Curtis Stokes & Associates Yacht Brokerage, which has a brokerage agreement with the museum.
In September of 2018, Boos asked the ethics commission to consider whether there was a conflict of interest because of his employment with Curtis Stokes & Associates. In January of 2019 the ethics commission cleared him of any conflicts.
The Circuit Court of Talbot County ruled last week that the ethics commission must hold a public hearing on the complaint against Boos.
In his ruling, Judge Stephen H. Kehoe said the ethics commission used “used an unlawful procedure” to dismiss the complaint.
“The failure to grant SMAC an evidentiary hearing that would allow it to call witnesses, produce evidence and cross examine other witnesses was an abuse of discretion,” Koe wrote.
“SMAC is gratified by the Court’s decision, said SMAC’s John Novak. “We have always seen this case as a matter of fundamental fairness to the citizens of St. Michaels. It is unfortunate that the Town Commissioners have invested time and taxpayer money in an effort to deprive these citizens of their right to bring complaints before the Ethics Commission and have them fairly heard. SMAC looks forward to a hearing on the merits before the Ethics Commission.”
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