The Board of Ethics was asked to render an opinion on whether an employee in a management position in the Department of Parks could also carry on a personal business as a for-hire charter boat providing services in the Town of Brookhaven.
The employee provided details of the proposed business, which could include charters for firework shows and charters for sunset cruises. The main purpose of this business, however, as described by the employee, is to land a boat at the marinas located at Davis Park, Cherry Grove, and Fire Island Pines (all within the Town of Brookhaven), and ferry customers to other locations. The Board interprets this business as a water taxi.
Further, the Department of Parks is responsible for the management and maintenance of Davis Park, and for the maintenance of the Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines marinas. The employee, as a manager, oversees Department of Parks employees and crews that maintain the marinas. The Department of Parks is also involved in the RFP process and awarding contracts for vendors at Davis Park.
The Code of Ethics §28-5(A)(2) states:
2. General prohibition. A Town officer or employee shall not use his or her official position or office, or take or fail to take any action, in a manner which he or she knows or has reason to know may result in a personal benefit, financial or otherwise, for any of the following persons:
(a) The Town officer or employee;(b) His or her outside employer or business;(c) A member of his or her household;(d) A customer or client (current or within the past five years); or(e) A family member.
The Code of Ethics §28-1(B) states that “[t]he proper administration of the government of the Town of Brookhaven requires its officers and employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members of any administrative boards, commissions or other agencies, to be impartial and free from conflicts of interest, or even the appearance of conflicts…”
It is the Board’s opinion that the Town employee’s proposed personal business could create a conflict with Code of Ethics §28-5(A)(2)(a), (b) and/or (d), and would create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Therefore, the employee should refrain from conducting such business within the Town of Brookhaven.