By Andrew Harris, 11/20/21
Governmental operations in the Town of Wellsville have seen better days. As an elected board, the Town has been operating without a fifth member since William Fish resigned in mid-September 2021, and public meetings of that board have been hampered by Covid-19.
One week after Fish called it quits, a schism between the Town supervisor Shad Alsworth and town highway supervisor Dean Arnold was laid bare over emergency floodplain repairs. After a special session of the town board, a decision to hire a local logging company to handle the floodplain repairs drew the ire of Arnold:
“To be undermined by the renegade actions of the Town Supervisor is troubling. He should be working with me, not going behind my back. We are both elected by the Town residents and we need to work together for the taxpayers of our town—not for glorious headlines.”
Sadly, the situation quickly deteriorated for the Town. Arnold resigned his position about forty days later, directly citing Alsworth as the reason. In his resignation letter, Arnold publicly announced that Alsworth had harassed, defamed, and undermined him personally and professionally:
Town government observers can forecast that this level of dysfunction and rhetoric often leads to legal action and formal investigation. While no official indication of civil or criminal legal action have surfaced, multiple sources have confirmed that internal investigations are underway. Deputy town supervisor Patricia Graves has been at the center of those inquiries, and has been doing research into how the town committees must perform their duties.
Graves confirmed to the Wellsville Sun that the Town of Wellsville Sexual Harassment and Hostile Workplace committee has recently met to address issues within its purview. The Town of Wellsville Ethics Committee has also been activated and had scheduled a meeting to address issues that have surfaced in recent weeks. That meeting was halted after a letter from Graves alerted committee members that the planned committee meeting was not legal. According to the letter, and the law attached to that letter, the current ethics committee lacks a required member:
“The Board of Ethics must have one person on it that is a town employee or board member.“
Ethics Committee members received the letter from Graves with a link to the attached law. The committee has agreed to wait for the special meeting this Tuesday before any formal Ethics committee meetings. You can read that full letter sent to current Ethics committee members below, and a link to the applicable law:
I am reaching out due to the fact I was contacted earlier this week regarding a concern that has been brought to the attention of the Town of Wellsville Board of Ethics. I had not done much research into what this board did or who needed to be involved thus far in being a Town Board Member- I had a general idea but failed to investigate this in depth. I know that the board is appointed each year by the Town Board, but then didn’t give it much thought beyond that.
Since I was contacted, I started looking into the laws and policies regarding the Board of Ethics. What I have discovered is the following:
- The Board of Ethics must be comprised of at least 3 members. – So there are 5 on it right now, that is good
- The Board of Ethics must have one person on it that is a town employee or board member. – There is not a member currently on the board of ethics that is a town employee or board member. There will be a special meeting on Tuesday November 23 and one of the items on the agenda is to appoint a member of the town board to the ethics committee.
- There are two points of reference governing the board of ethics:
- Town Law Manual- Article IV. Ethics and Conflicts of Interest- References General Municipal Law Article 18- attached and found here: Conflicts of Interest: Municipal Officers and Employees The Fundamentals of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law (state.ny.us)
- Town of Wellsville Employee Handbook- Section 408 Code of Ethics- you may contact the Town Clerk for a copy as I only have a paper copy.
Given that the board of ethics is not a complete board until an appointment is made of a Town Board Member, I would advise that you should not hold any meetings/discussions regarding any matters that have been brought to your attention until such appointment has been made.
I realize that I do not have an email for Mr. Stevens and that some of you may not recognize my email and think it is junk or spam. I will be calling each of you in the next two days to ensure you have received this information.
Patty Graves, Deputy Town Supervisor- Town of Wellsville”
The Wellsville Sun has inquired with Graves seeking clarification and additional information on the subject. Expect this to be an evolving and continuing story on the Wellsville Sun.