December 18, 2013

Zoppo-Sassu KO'd for service on two key panels

The city's Board of Ethics told city Councilor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu this week that she cannot serve on two key city panels: the Salary Committee and the Bristol Development Authority.
Acting in response to her query about serving, the panel said it would pose a conflict of interest for her to be on the three-person Salary Committee because her husband, Peter Sassu, is a city police officer.
It ruled she could not serve on the BDA because she writes grant proposals for the Bristol Historical Society that aim to collect Community Development Block Grant money that the BDA doles out each year.
Taken together, the two decisions slice into the issues and policies Zoppo-Sassu can take a direct role in.
They also appear to mark a more heightened standard for potential conflicts than the city has had over the years. The rulings may wind up limiting the roles that other councilors can play if they or their spouses work for city government.
In recent years, at least four city councilors worked for the city themselves -- Mayra Sampson, Kevin McCauley, Tom Lavigne and Al Myers. Others have had spouses, children or other close relatives on the city payroll.
For now, the ruling simply means that Mayor Ken Cockayne will have to pick another Democratic councilor for the BDA, either Mary Fortier or Calvin Brown. But Fortier generally cannot make meetings in late afternoon so Brown is likely to get that role.
Cockayne will likely tap one of them for the Salary panel, too, though I don't think he has to pick a Democrat for that committee.

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