MILTON – After observing a related vote on Wednesday night, two members of the Milton Ethics Board suddenly resigned, citing apparent conflicts between a recently elected member of the town board and the woman who was the subject of the vote.
The Milton Town Board voted in favor this week of appointing Brenda L. Baird to the five-member ethics board, which recently has experienced significant turnover.
The board investigates ethics complaints in Milton and makes formal recommendations, but only the town board has the authority to act on them or not.
At the town board’s Jan. 24 meeting, opposition to Baird’s appointment was posed by Councilwoman Barbara Kerr and Councilman Benny Zlotnick.
Their comments centered on connections between Baird and fellow Councilman John Frolish, who was elected on the Republican ticket last November alongside Supervisor Scott Ostrander. Baird reportedly helped Frolish on his political campaign.
Zlotnick said this week that his previous concerns about Baird’s appointment were addressed. But Kerr persisted and was the sole opposing vote, saying afterward that the political climate in Milton is “digressing” under Ostrander’s leadership.
Ethics Board Chairman Robert Keihm said there is an “atmosphere” of questionable activities surrounding Baird’s appointment, considering her political ties to Frolish and the “disgraceful” details of the appointment itself.
During the public comment section of the Feb. 28 meeting, Keihm and ethics board member John Bory both handed in resignation letters to Town Clerk William Mevec.
“I have lost faith and confidence” in town officials as long as they fuel “suspicion and mistrust,” Keihm said.
“The only reason I applied to the ethics board is to serve my community,” replied Baird herself, when she appeared at the podium. She called the claims being made about her and Frolish “ridiculous.”
Baird added: “I wouldn’t know how to have a political agenda.”
“I think you all should be ashamed of yourselves,” longtime Milton resident and former ethics board member Suzanne Canell told the town board members. “Every one of you.”
Afterward, Ostrander spoke in his own defense by noting the accessibility of his Geyser Road office for residents to discuss their concerns in person. “My door is open to anyone in this town,” he said.