Is there a Conflict of Interest ? Look at the facts.

corey campaign pic sm

Yesterdays Sun Column Blog had a post about a possible Conflict of Interest with Councilor Belanger.

Does that mean this morning on WCAP Teddy will spank Chris Scott? Especially since Chris isn’t from Lowell and is just being in Teddy’s eyes “Negative”.

(Glad to have me back Scotty? Feel free has always to use this blog for a reference point or ideas)

Is Councilor Belanger by his actions of voting for monies being sent to support business downtown, or voting on the CVB funding in the budget or voting to approve members on the License Commission who oversee the hours, rules and discipline of his business in violation of being in Conflict of Interest?

I guess that depends on your own personal point of view.

If you are a friend / supporter of the Councilor, you say NO. He’s just trying to spur economic development in the downtown.

Those that think less of Councilor Belanger or who look at things objectively will point out many votes that seem to point out that he may well be in conflict.

He has faced this questions before. He accepted a campaign donation from a developer opposed to the move of the Methadone Clinic and then voted against it but the State Ethics Commission said there was no violation.

Here are some points to consider when pondering this question. Is Councilor Belanger in Conflict of Interest?

State Ethics Commission
City councillors are municipal employees within the meaning of the conflict of interest law and, therefore, are subject to its provisions. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(g). The conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee, such as a city councillor, from participating in a particular matter in which the employee, or a member of his or her immediate family [1] has a financial interest. G.L. c. 268A, s.19(a).

1) Last week the City Council approved a Line Item in the Budget that read: Business/Marketing Development, CVB $205,000

Councilor Corey Belanger is a downtown restaurant/bar Owner and a member of the CVB. He voted to approve that portion (and the complete) budget.

City Council approves $334M budget By Lyle Moran, lmoran@lowellsun.com

The CVB just sponsored an event called The Great Race and Councilor Belanger’s Restaurant was named host. Drivers were instructed to eat there and given a coupon. The CVB drove business to his establishment.

2) On repeated occasions he has sponsored or supported Council motions that directly affect the downtown and could be viewed as being beneficial for his business including the following:

A) C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. provide a report on income produced on .75 additional meals tax enacted July 1, 2010.

April 1st Mangers response Motion Response – Provide report on income produced on additional meals tax C. Belanger spoke regarding Item (B) under Motion Responses that some of this money go back to marketing the City. C. Samaras then moved, seconded by C. Kennedy “To refer this matter back to the Economic Development Sub/Committee to create a marketing strategy to market the City and develop incentives for the downtown and how this money could be used”. So voted.

B) Parking ordinance on panel’s agenda tonight
The Lowell Sun
UPDATED: 02/18/2014 06:34:57 AM EST
0 COMMENTS

LOWELL — The City Council’s economic-development subcommittee is scheduled to meet today at 5:30 p.m., to discuss the city’s parking ordinance. The discussion was prompted by council approval of Councilor Corey Belanger’s motion requesting that the ordinance be reviewed. Belanger, who chairs the council’s economic-development subcommittee, has said he wants the council to look at potentially reducing the hours that payment of meters is enforced.

C) April 1st C. Belanger/C. Milinazzo – Req. that as School Department moves forward with search for administration offices that consideration be given to boost downtown economic development.

D) April 29th C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. establish a “Hotel Initiative” and work with DPD and UMass-Lowell officials to establish potential future hotel locations.

The Sun (4/27/14)
Belanger’s motion calls for Murphy’s administration to establish a “Hotel Initiative” and work with the city’s Department of Planning and Development and UMass Lowell officials to identify potential hotel locations. Belanger told The Sun he would also like the city to work with the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau on the effort.

E) Tuesday June 24th – Councilor Belanger motion for an update on the RFP for the School Department Headquarters. Says it is a “key piece of revitalizing the downtown.” He says having the Department HQ downtown is much more important than having teachers downtown because administrators go out to lunch unlike teachers.

Should Councilor Belanger even be voting to approve members of the License Commission who oversee his establishment?

Communication-Reappoint John Descoteaux to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Terrence McCarthy to License Commission
In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Kristen Hogan to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote

Lowell Sun : The council voted 8-0 to confirm the re-appointment of John Descoteaux to the License Commission. It also voted by the same margin to confirm the new appointments of Terry McCarthy and Kristen Hogan to the License Commission. All of their terms will expire in 2020. Councilor Ed Kennedy was absent for the votes.

City Council Tuesday June 24th: Appoint- Nancy McGovern to the License Commission. Ratified by council unanimously.

Some of his supporters will say I have an axe to grind or that I am attacking him. Frankly, I could care less what they say. Some of them have 2 or 20 hours a week on the Radio to defend him and call me negative.

I remember City Councilor Franky Decouteaux not voting on issues that could directly affect her businesses when she served. We have seen in the past few weeks, Councilor Jim Milinazzo, Bill Martin, Bill Samaras and Ed Kennedy all recuse themselves or vote present during the budget meeting when it appeared they were in potential conflict of interest so that no one (re: Lowell Sun and others) could accuse them of violating the ethics law.

It will be up to some individual to ask the State Ethics Commission if Councilor Belanger is or is not in conflict.

I’m just asking you to look at these facts and make up your own mind.

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2 thoughts on “Is there a Conflict of Interest ? Look at the facts.

  1. jerryflynn

    First of all, Candidate Belanger ran on this very issue – Economic Development in the downtown area. Secondly, he not only put his money where is mouth is, he’s clearly is fulfilling a campaign promise. As for the ridiculousness of the conflict of interest law, how can one vote for his brother-in-law and that NOT be a direct violation, yet employing dozens of people and paying property and sales tax is? Time to wake up and smell the coffee! Yes, for the record I consider Cory Belanger a friend, but Councilor Belanger hasn’t changed his tune. In this case, he’s spot on!

    Reply
  2. Joe Smith

    I think councilor Belanger is playing loose with the conflict-of-interest law, but I think he is right to try to improve the economics of the downtown. However, I would take great issue with some of his proposals, such as making parking downtown free starting at 4 pm, and building a new high school on the South Common.

    Reply

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