Conflict of interest policy to be further discussed by board

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 22, 2020

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A conflict of interest policy was addressed at the Sept. 9 Macomb Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Macomb Township Human Resources Director and Legal Counsel Tom Esordi said the township has a conflict of interest policy that took effect in 2016.

“The policy has been reviewed to confirm compliance with current laws and the township procedures and provisions including the new ethics ordinance,” he said.

The policy states that all employees and/or elected officials of Macomb Township are required to avoid all actual or potential conflicts of interest in any and all solicitation of bids or other selection process, for goods, services and labor.

Esordi gave an example of language in the policy changing, in that the use of “financial interest” changed to “direct pecuniary interest” and the removal of reference to a purchasing agent.

Trustee Kathy Smith recommended adjourning taking action on the policy until she could review the conflict of interest policy and the ethics ordinance policy.

The board agreed to postpone voting on the conflict of interest policy until its Sept. 23 meeting, after press time.  

Last December, the township’s ethics ordinance took effect and includes prohibited conduct, violation, enforcement and advisory opinions.

The conflict of interest policy defines conflict of interest as a “direct pecuniary interest, present or future, real or foreseeable which would undermine the township’s goal of assuring an independent, impartial and honest bid process.”

It states that employees and elected officials are asked to disclose, in writing, to their immediate supervisor and the township board, any and all potential conflicts of interest in connection with the bid process for services or labor and shall remove themselves from any discussion related to the bid process or selection process.

That includes public or private discussions in order to avoid “both the appearance of impropriety and the potential of discouraging open debate regarding competing proposals and/or vendors.”

For employees, the policy requires that no employee will participate directly or indirectly in a procurement when the employee knows that the employee or any member of the employee’s immediate family or household, among other criteria.

Resident Frank Cusumano commented on the policy during public comments.

“It is seriously flawed and should not be adopted,” he said. “It includes different definitions than the ethics ordinance, most importantly, what is defined as a conflict of interest.”

In regard to board members, the policy notes that the township can enter into a contract with a vendor which a board member has a conflict of interest as defined earlier in the policy.
“In entering into a contract with this vendor the board member must not vote on or participate in the deliberations pertaining to the contract,” it reads.

The penalty for violation of the policy constitutes grounds for discipline up to and including discharge.

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