Wednesday, October 28, 2009

O'Brien files ethics complaint against D'Aversa

by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers

MILTON — A former Milton Councilman filed state and city ethics complaints Oct. 21 against Councilwoman Tina D'Aversa over a series of e-mails she sent from her city-paid e-mail account to her opponent in the Nov. 4 election.

In the complaint, former Milton Councilman Neal O'Brien alleges D'Aversa's e-mails to opponent Joe Longoria in early September — in which she urged him to drop out of the election and offered him a position on the Ga. 9 Design Guidelines Committee — violated Milton's Code of Ethics.

Throughout the 17-page city complaint, O'Brien argues D'Aversa violated ethics guidelines pertaining to: bribery; using government equipment for political gain; using influence for monetary gain; using confidential information for personal gain; general conduct in office; and duties related to her elected position.

O'Brien said in his written statement that D'Aversa's e-mails featured "troubling" aspects, including "the cavalier offer [of] a post with no regard for the best interests of the city."

In a statement released Oct. 22, D'Aversa said she had heard about the complaint but hadn't read it. However she said the filing was "politically motivated and conveniently timed less than two weeks before the election to discredit me."

D'Aversa said the motive was partisan politics in that she was a "staunch supporter" of O'Brien's challenger in the 2007 election, Councilman Burt Hewitt, who defeated him.

She also said O'Brien supports Longoria, as well as incumbent council members Karen Thurman and Bill Lusk.

"I am on record supporting their respective challengers, Bernard Wolff and Al Trevillyan," she said.

O'Brien discounted D'Aversa's claim that the ethics charges were filed strategically to come at the critical point of the campaign, but declined to elaborate. He also wouldn't comment on claims he supports Longoria.

"This is simply about ethics, the rule of law and about constituents' rights to confidence in government free of corruption from the top down," O'Brien said. "Other than that, the complaint speaks for itself."

Longoria previously had steered clear of making a comment pertaining to the ethical implications of D'Aversa's e-mails. However, shortly before 2 p.m. Oct. 22, he launched a salvo against his opponent in the wake of the filing.

In it, he called D'Aversa's offer of an appointed city board position if he agreed not to challenge her seat "improper, unethical and possibly illegal" and a "corrupt bargain." His language was verbatim of that used in O'Brien's complaint.

Longoria said he'd been in New York during the filing and had been keeping up with the complaint via e-mails from his campaign manager, Bob Meyers. He said they pored over the document the night of Oct. 21 and prepared statements to be ready for various media inquiries about the situation, which accounted for the similar wording.

"This isn't our story," Longoria said. "We've been keeping quiet because you don't want to accidentally respond. Voters may read between the lines."

He denied any collusion between himself and O'Brien.

"I've never met Neal O'Brien," he said. "I don't know if I even voted for the guy."

D'Aversa maintains she did nothing unethical and wrote that O'Brien should be subject to a provision in the Code of Ethics that "makes it illegal to lodge a frivolous or politically motivated ethics complaint against a council member or other city official."

"I am confident that this complaint will ultimately be dismissed following an investigation and that Mr. O'Brien will be held accountable for what is obviously an effort to cast a shadow over my outstanding record of accomplishments and service to our city during this election," she said.

City Clerk Jeanette Marchiafava said Oct. 22 the complaint had been forwarded to Ethics Board Chairman Todd Ashley, who approved to send it to D'Aversa by certified mail. Ashley declined comment on the case, citing the Code of Ethics' prohibition against discussion of the complaint.

The councilwoman has 30 days to respond to the complaint. The Ethics Board has 60 days to decide whether a violation actually took place. They met for their regularly scheduled quarterly meeting Oct. 26 after press deadlines. Check for updates from that meeting.

Acting Executive Secretary of the State Ethics Commission Tom Plank said his office could confirm receipt of the complaint from O'Brien. However, Plank could not give any details about it, citing a 48-hour window for D'Aversa to be notified. She has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

There have been four previous ethics complaints in Milton's three-year history. The first came against O'Brien and fellow council member Bill Lusk. Mayor Joe Lockwood and councilwoman Julie Zahner Bailey each were accused of violations, as was Ethics Board member Carol Lane. All complaints to date were dismissed.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this was top news last week and you have decided to make it top news this week. Oh wait, it has been top news in your paper every day. Are you going to run it daily until November 4th?

How much is it costing you to throw free newspapers to the Milton citizens in the hopes of negatively influencing the voters against Tina, whom you have vowed to bring down?

You don't bash Al and Bernard so you must want them to win.

After putting Tina down day after day after day in your rag, you invite her on short notice to a debate knowing or hoping she couldn't show. How much time did you give Billy, and Karen, and Joey Pompous?

Anonymous said...

This is a Milton Herald article. I guess they lie too. Everyone lies, except Tina

Anonymous said...

Wow yourself. What a charge. Tina supporters could be sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

Anonymous said...

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid and look at what Tina really did. How can you possibly support her after what she did? And she CLEARLY chickened out on the debate on Jezebel's orders.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh, sounds like some bloggers have been drinking from the toilet again. Get your heads out of the porcelain bowl and debate like a human being, not a dog.

Anonymous said...

It feels good to love to hate doesn't it? You have no concrete proof, only allegations and innuendoes that you keep posting over, and over, and over ad nauseum. Get out of your caveman mentality. Women are here to stay.

Anonymous said...

Chris the Bloom is scared of strong, intelligent, educated women.

If he and Major Joe were copied on the email and did nothing, they should go down but porbably won't because they are men.

Anonymous said...

What are you all going to do when Tina is found guilty and all allegations are found to be true???
Will you still be standing behind a liar? Is that who should be sitting on the council?

Anonymous said...

If she is guilty then we will imediately remove her from office. She will be bound, shackled and striped down to her leopard skin undies at the next council meeting, then she will be taken to the Avensong Clubhouse pool and be thrown in.

Are you happy now?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

That comment is disgusting. Tim, can't you remove the ones like this. It is clearly a Joe supporter.

Anonymous said...

Probably from the horses that she owns?

Anonymous said...

I will bet it is "Joe" himself!

Anonymous said...

That damn Joe:(

Anonymous said...

Figure it out folks, Tina is going to be found guilty and removed from office if she gets elected.

Your vote for Tina is a waste. And let's not even think about the impact on the City's budget when they have to remove her.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Ethics Charge was against all the Citizens of Milton. For a council member to think that she has enough power to play God and tell people to not run and then start moving people around on committees to keep someone from running against her is a violation of the trust that we put in these council members. I'm glad that Joe did not entertain her proposition and I understand why he did not file the complaint- it really needed to come from her fellow council members or members of the Milton Community. It is insult to all of us in Milton - it shows the lack of respect that Tina has for her community.

Anonymous said...

Now that is what is known as hogwash.

Anonymous said...

See comments under "The Accuracy Of Polls."

Karen Milton is a loan shark preying on our men in the military

Anonymous said...

THis last poster has posted this same comment on every post. Yoohooooooo, get a life! Must be a Bernie person. Oh wait, that would be better stated as a JULIE supporter. Anyone have the demographic info on what one of them looks like.