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Essex County creates Ethics Committee

March 22, 2011
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County gave preliminary approval Monday morning to the membership of the county's newly created Ethics Committee.

The county Board of Supervisors' passed an ethics law late last year that requires more financial disclosure from county employees and department heads as well as creating an Ethics Committee.

The five members are Mike Orticelle of Saranac Lake, Ken Doyle of AuSable Forks, Alex Shmulsky of Ticonderoga, Frank Kearns of Jay and Phyllis Klein of Willsboro. Jim Herrmann of Westport is an alternate.

The 27 applicants had to give information about any personal contacts with the county, said county Attorney Dan Manning. People with county contracts or who were active in either political party were eliminated.

"The vetting process was pretty thorough," Manning said.

"It was nice to see that many people interested in serving," said Supervisor Noel Merrihew, R-Elizabethtown. He also said that Doyle is not related to any of the Doyles who work for the county.

The ethics issue became controversial after WNBZ radio, and subsequently Denton Publications' Essex County-based papers, reported in early 2010 that a number of county employees are related to county officials, mentioning several but singling out county Manager Dan Palmer. Supervisors denied nepotism and responded by creating an initial ethics committee to revise the county's ethics policy.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, D-Jay, said the process of creating the committee had taken longer than he thought it would, and he sharply criticized a recent editorial in the Valley News that questioned whether the ethics board would be independent and effective and called on the board to make sure it is. Douglas questioned whether the writers knew how much work had gone into creating the committee.

"Give us a chance to make this work before you criticize us," Douglas said.

The appointments passed the board's Personnel Committee Monday and still need to pass the Ways and Means Committee and the full Board of Supervisors.


Contact Nathan Brown at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or



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