The Town of Sweden has a Code of Ethics, but the Town Council seems to ignore it on a regular basis because the code of ethics is so badly written, it actually gives unscrupulous people a way out.
For some strange reason the Town of Sweden’s Code of Ethics contains the words, “if observed” and those two words seem to be the out that the members of the Sweden Town Council use as their way to avoid following the rules of conduct laid down in the Code of Ethics.
Here’s how to find the Town of Sweden’s Code of Ethics online:
- • Go to the Town website
- • Click on the Sweden Town Code button at the left side of the page.
- • Scroll down to Chapter 19: ETHICS, CODE OF, and click on the link.
- • Scroll down to § 19-1 Legislative intent, and click on the link.
Here are the critical pieces of the Code of Ethics puzzle that four members of the Sweden Town Council ignore on a regular basis.
§ 19-1 Legislative intent.
The Town Board of the Town of Sweden recognizes that there are state statutory provisions mandating towns to establish rules and standards of ethical conduct for public officers and employees which, if observed, can enhance public confidence in local government.
§ 19-5 Standards of conduct.
An officer or employee is subject to, and must abide by, the following standards of conduct:
A. No Town employee shall accept other employment which impairs the employee’s independence of judgment in the exercise of the employee’s official duties.
C. No Town employee shall use or attempt to use the employee’s official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for the employee or others.
E. A Town employee shall not, by the employee’s conduct, give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence the employee or unduly enjoy the employee’s favor in the performance of the employee’s official duties or that the employee is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
Councilwoman Danielle Windus-Cook seems to be surrounded by a spider’s web of nepotism from her father to her son to her employees.
Windus-Cook is the daughter of Walter Windus, the Town Inspector and Part Time/Code Enforcement Officer. When he is dealing with a property owned or being sold by his daughter, can he really show independence of judgment in the exercise of the employee’s official duties”?
Deputy Supervisor Robert Muesebeck is an employee of Councilwoman Danielle Windus-Cook. Doesn’t that qualify as, “employment which impairs the employee’s independence of judgment in the exercise of the employee’s official duties”?
Highway Superintendent Brian Ingraham’s wife is also an employee of Councilwoman Danielle Windus-Cook, while Town Attorney James Bell is a tenant in a building owed by Windus-Cook.
James Cook, a Recreation Assistant for the town, is the son of Danielle Windus-Cook and the grandson of Walter Windus. You have to wonder if there was anyone who wasn’t related to Councilwoman Windus-Cook who could have really used that job.
Former Sweden Supervisor Nat “Buddy” Lester had to resign after he was arrested in March 2009 for not filing his income taxes four years in a row, from 2004 to 2007. In October 2009, Lester pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of failure to file his personal tax return and he paid $43,380 in back taxes, penalties and interest for not paying taxes.
But despite that, the Town of Sweden hired Buddy Lester as the Deputy Town Attorney. Buddy’s son, Matthew Lester, and his daughter Megan Lester, also have jobs as Recreation Assistants for the town.
Joy Bahr-Seever, the daughter of Kathleen Bahr-Seever, is also a Recreation Assistant for the town. It seems that to be a Recreation Assistant for the town you have to be related to somebody who already works for the town.
But the nepotism doesn’t stop there. Supervisor Rob Carges’ sister, Jeanne Carges-Arieno, works as a laborer for the town.
Town Councilman Donald Roberts is married to Deputy Town Clerk Kathy Roberts.
Leisa Strabel is the Director of Finance for the Town of Sweden, and her husband, David Strabel was hired by the town as the architect for the new firehouse that the town paid to have built on Owens Road as part of the deal to create the new fire district. Strabel’s design called for a 2-inch water pipe into the new firehouse, which was woefully insufficient for the needs of the firefighters.
Kathy Beaumont, Sweden’s Dog Control Officer, is married to Paul Beaumont, Sweden’s Deputy Dog Control Officer
No matter which source you use, the definition of nepotism applies to the situation in the Town of Sweden
- Black’s Law Dictionary defines nepotism as: Appointing unqualified relatives and friends to positions in one’s organization when an outsider might be better qualified.
- Merriam-webster.com defines nepotism as, the unfair practice by a powerful person of giving jobs and other favors to relatives.
- Google defines nepotism as, the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.
Each of these definitions fits the situation in the Town of Sweden’s government. Pick which ever one you want, and then remember the rampant nepotism in the Town of Sweden when it comes time to vote this fall.