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Published On: Fri, Dec 14th, 2012

Munford being investigated for ethics violations

munford

Selectwoman Susan Munford

KINGSTON- Kingston’s newest selectman, Susan Munford, is now suspected of being the focal point of a State Ethics Commission investigation regarding her salary as a town employee and possible conflict of interest violations.

Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she was approached by the State Ethics Commission on Thursday and made aware of a complaint filed against her.

The complaint, which was filed anonymously, alleged that Munford has been paid as a selectwoman and a police officer since her election in April of this year.

It is a civil service violation to be paid as a police officer and an elected official.

Munford says she asked Jay Talerman, Kingston Town Counsel, not to be paid her selectmen stipend in April.

“I had a conversation with Jay after I was elected and I told him I didn’t want my selectmen money,” Munford said today.

Munford was told by the Kingston Treasurer’s office that her selectmen stipend had been added to her salary as a police officer.

Selectwoman Munford is a sergeant in the Kingston Police Department.

Jim Thomas was Kingston’s Town Administrator in April and signed the warrant, which combined Munford’s two salaries together.

Kingston Selectmen are paid $800 annually.

“There were no notations on my check that said where the extra money came from and my check varies from week to week so I just didn’t notice,” Munford said.

nancy

Nancy Howlett, Kingston’s Acting Town Adminstrator.

Since Thomas’ departure in July, Howlett has been responsible for signing the selectmen warrants.

Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she had been in communication with Howlett on Friday.

“I emailed her and I said to Nancy [Howlett], ‘you knew about this the whole time?’” Munford said.

Howlett responded to Munford and told the selectwoman, “It’s your responsibility.”

Howlett was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

The office of Kingston Treasurer Ken Stevens said on Friday that they process the payroll checks for town employees but the selectmen’s office tells them how much to pay each employee.

“I could see how $30 a week could be easily missed,” Stevens said in his office Friday afternoon.

Stevens said he didn’t believe Munford was responsible for being paid as a selectwoman and a police officer.

“I think the violation lies more in her votes on police union contracts, she’s effectively negotiating with herself,” Stevens said.

Munford said the complaint logged with the Ethics Commission also cites votes that Munford took on police details and a liquor license.

Munford claims that she did not benefit from any of the police details that she approved as a selectwoman.

The complaint against Munford also lists a vote that Munford took to approve a liquor license.

“The only new liquor license in town was Finna’s Tavern and it was lumped in with a bunch of license renewals. I didn’t catch it and it was a mistake,” Munford said yesterday.

stevens

Ken Stevens, Kingston’s Treasurer.

As a police officer, Munford is not allowed to vote for issues pertaining to police matters or liquor licenses due to conflict of interest.

Calls to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission went unreturned on Friday afternoon.

Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she faces disciplinary action from within the Kingston Police Department and the possibility of a $10,000 fine if found in violation.

Yesterday, in a Facebook post, Munford said she had immediately stopped payments from her selectmen stipend.

Munford’s Facebook statement, which was posted on the Kingston Town Locals page, ended with an apology to her supporters.

“I apologize that my actions have cast a shadow on the position of selectmen for the Town of Kingston,” Munford wrote.

Munford also wrote that she has arranged for the  money she has been paid as a selectwoman since April, amounting to $492, to be deducted from her next check.

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  1. Any Mouse says:

    Kingston Journal story:

    “I emailed her and I said to Nancy [Howlett], ‘you knew about this the whole time?’” Munford said.

    Howlett responded to Munford and told the selectwoman, “It’s your responsibility.”

    —–

    Way to go Ms. Howlett!

    (BTW, I understand you want to keep this job ’till 2014)

    Nancy is the acting Town Administrator and saw a problem because she reviews the warrants in detail. And then she decided to say nothing?

    Either that or she does not review the warrants in detail – in which case she is guilty of dereliction of duty.

    Really?

    Which is it Ms. Howlett?

    Are you trying to set up a selectman for an ethics violation or are you simply not doing the job the town hired you to d?

    Tell me again why you deserve this job?

    Nancy: If you would do this to a Selectman you work for – who else would you do this to if they crossed you politically?

  2. CuckoosNest says:

    It sounds like the Selectwoman didn’t commit any of these violations purposely, but I’m concerned with how money on paychecks is “bundled” together, with no itemization, and individual items which require action by the Selectmen are “bundled” together and voted on as a package, rather than individually, and things sneak by that way.

    I wonder how much other money is being paid out without proper itemization?

    I also wonder how many items on the Selectmens agenda is being voted on, bundled in a package, which isn’t being read from start to finish by the individual Selectmen, who aren’t really aware of everything they’re voting on?

    It sounds like a classic case of lack of communication between offices (the Selectmen with the Town Manager and the Town Treasurer), and a lack of communication between the Selectmen on what they’re actually voting on!

  3. Publius says:

    Having been a victim of Ms. Howlett’s underhanded way of doing things I am not in the least surprised that she set up Ms. Mumford this way.

    Ms. Howlett knows that in order to for her to keep the position of town administrator, a position for which she is eminently unqualified, she must appease Messrs. Arruda, Casna and Gleason, who by hanging around to April 15 will in all likelihood have a vote in the selection of the Town Administrator.

    Her actions vis a vie Ms. Munford are nothing more than a ploy to ingratiate herself with the majority of the currently seated Board.

    It would not at all surprise me if Ms. Howlett, or one of her lackies were the defacto complainant to the State Ethics Commission.

  4. Any Mouse says:

    The authors of the Federalist Papers used the pseudonym “Publius”. It is a name of honor and purpose. It is good to hear from you again.

  5. Barbara says:

    Who are they going after next.

    Who ever did this didn’t have the guts to tell who they were.I just wish people who have lived here all there lives would speak up.

    The town has been going down the tubes, when the people didn’t stand up for Debbie.

    If people had spoken up years ago maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess Ms. Howlet doesn’t deserve the job She doesn’t live in Kingston.

    There should be some in Kingston who could do this job.

  6. Biggus says:

    There’s plenty of blame to go around here and I’ll say 90% of it is accidental.

    Prove to me that Munford had intentions to commit a true ethics violation and I’ll buy it.

    No comment from Jay Talerman? He can’t keep his mouth shut about anything else. Did he or did he not speak to Munford?

    [DELETED BY MODERATOR]

    ———–

    MODERATOR’S NOTE: Name calling is not allowed. Town meeting rules apply – if you are not happy with a person’s job performance – have at it but leave out the personal pronouns.

  7. admin says:

    REMINDER: Town Meeting rules apply to posted comments. Write about the issues but leave name calling out of the discussion. Personal attacks will not be allowed.

    Definition of NAME-CALLING: the use of offensive names especially to win an argument or to induce rejection or condemnation (as of a person or project) without objective consideration of the facts [source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/name-calling%5D

  8. Richard Arruda says:

    Bradford, I’m curious about one thing.

    At the bottom of the comments section you say, “write about the issues, leave name calling out, and no personal attacks will not be allowed”.

    It appears that most of the comments are name calling and personal attacks, without I might add any foundation, against other Board members and Ms. Howlett.

    Guess that’s journalism in this day and age.

  9. Publius says:

    Dear Mr. Arruda,

    Your assert that “most of the comments are name calling and personal attacks, without I might add any foundation, against other Board members and Ms. Howlett”.

    Well Dickie lets dissect my comments and see if they fit your parameters.

    First I asset that Ms. Howlett has an underhanded way of doing things.

    I post that comment because at one point in time she had a problem with a comment I posted. Instead of contacting me she chose to have a fully armed member of the Kingston Police Department come to my home. That is underhanded and my opinion and an effort to give some emphasis to who she is and how she intends to handle her position.

    Secondly, I assert that Ms, Howlett is eminently unqualified to handle the position of town administrator.

    I make this assertion because, A, she lacks any formal education beyond High School, to the best of my knowledge, and B. working as a dispatcher for the Wareham Police Department and as a clerk in the Selectmen’s office do not enhance her qualifications for the position.

    I further asset that Ms. Howlett is doing everything she can to ingratiate herself with the majority of the Board of Selectmen.

    Her actions regarding Ms. Mumford and her recently reported violation to the State Ethics Commission speak directly to this desire.

    Why Ms. Mumford could not have received a separate check for her Selectmen’s salary, like every other Selectmen did, adds to the “foundation” on my position. If the Selectmen still reviewed the payroll warrant and endorsed same, instead of giving Ms. Howlett that authority, could, possible,have avoided this problem.

    So Mr. Arruda you are incorrect in your assertions regarding those who post here. Most, if not all, do so because of the refusal of the Board of Selectmen to directly address and correctly resolve any, or all, of the problems that currently infect our town.

    The problems that the citizenry have with the wind turbines is a classic case in point.

    Why can’t you come on this web site, Richard, and explain why you support Mr. Gleason’s determination to remain on the Board until April 15. It is well known that I have no personal issues with Mr. Gleason but permitting a lame duck to remain on the Board portends some looming disasters in the not to distant future.

    Your response would be most appreciated.

  10. Richard Arruda says:

    Well Richard I am more than willing to respond in this forum if this is what you prefer.

    First, if you bothered to ask someone of authority in the police department I’m sure they would inform you that the decision to send someone to your house had nothing to do with Nancy.

    Secondly, you are certainly in titled to your opinion as to wether Nancy is qualified to be the Town administrator.

    Thirdly, the Selectmen still sign the payroll and certainly I hope they are reviewing what they sign bi-weekly.

    The remark about the ethics is somewhat confusing. I certainly hope that without any evidence you are not suggesting that Nancy was in any way responsible for the ethics violation being filed.

    Richard you know as well as I that ignorance of the law is no excuse or defense.

    And lastly, I support Ron Gleason’s right to any legal standing he has under the constitution of this state and our country.

    Something a number of you and your friends seems to disregard.

    And with that I wish you and your’s a Merry Christmas.

  11. Publius says:

    Well Richard I will make this short, sweet and to the point.

    You state that “the decision to send someone to your house had nothing to do with Nancy.

    Despite my knee jerk reaction to just slam you I will simply state that, if you as a former member of the Kingston Constabulary, had check with the chief you would have hopefully determined that Ms. Howlett was/is the complainant.

    Come on, your a former detective and you couldn’t find that out?

    And with that I sincerely wish your and yours a Merry Christman.

  12. Publius says:

    Dickie,

    Please don’t stop now.

    Just for a moment there was the slightest flicker of hope for some sort of good conversation, albeit with some bite.

    I can no longer attend open forum because of the proposed junior wise guys who come in and try to project themselves in a way which I sincerely believe is inconsistent with resolving problems and helping the community, there is also a member of the Board of Selectmen who participates and is an enabler for those who I just referred to.

    So please continue to post, criticize me, and anybody or anything else, at will.

    If I went to far in my response and need an apology you may consider same from me.

    Please it would be so refreshing to hear your voice, which, by the way, is rarely heard at meetings and only when the duress gets to much.

    Thanks

  13. Publius says:

    Sorry to be such a verbose pig but I do have one last question.

    According to your report Ms. Mumfrod is precluded from being paid for holding two “offices” within the town.

    Question, does being of the PD constitute an “office” within the town, certainly Selectwoman would.

  14. GlowGolf says:

    The Kingston Town government needs a complete cleansing and overhaul of old style management. It’s bad for the town.

    There is no room for embarrassing nomenclature and he-said-she-said rantings on this website or even the town meetings.

    It is clear that these personal issues are getting in the way of common sense. No wonder nothing gets done.

    It is also clear that the “old” townies running things are not aware of how quickly Kingston has grown into a major hub.

    This click of people lack basic negotiating and decision making skills other than those needed for a cranberry bog operation. Are you going to tell me these people seriously know what’s best for the town?

    For crying out loud, if Kingston has another Dunkin Donuts or pizza shop in it we’re all gonna have diabetes and celiac problems. Get your act together and grow up.

    Merry Christmas.

  15. Publius says:

    Amen!

  16. Kingstonian says:

    Hey Publius…..You need to grow up too. I think you are someone that GlowGolf may be talking to.

    And can I get an Amen to that!

  17. Bradford Randall says:

    Mr. Arruda…journalism is not what our readers’ comments are. Journalism is what we report.

    We do not wish to control the opinions of others…but we will moderate them if profanity is used or if posters resort to name calling.

    If a commenter wishes to attack another without providing evidence…I think we will both agree, that action says more about the poster than about the person being verbally attacked.

    The comments on this Web site do not speak for KingstonJournal.com.

  18. Richard Arruda says:

    GlowGolf, just have a few things to say with regard to your response to Brad’s article.

    All it’s going to take for your “cleansing” is for you and all your friends to run down to the Town Clerks office and take out papers to get rid of us old timers.

    Just keep in mind that when you do this there will be a commitment on your part and you will have to put your REAL name on the nomination papers.

    Good luck in the upcoming elections and I look forward to seeing you at the polls.

  19. Dash ripcock says:

    What a joke the town of kingston is! I mean really. Munford has to go

  20. Dash ripcock says:

    That exactly right glow golf!