Resident alleges ethics violations

May 05, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ


A Hagerstown resident has filed complaints accusing City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean of unethically aiding a community discussion group they founded.

Anthony Campello alleged that Zimmerman shouldn't have released $367.21 in city money to help the Building Community group buy supplies and refreshments. The group later repaid the money.

He also alleged that Zimmerman and Parson-McBean improperly used their city positions to help the group.

In separate complaints he e-mailed to the county and city Wednesday night, Campello accused Zimmerman and Parson-McBean of violating city ethics provisions covering financial gain, conflict of interest and misuse of the prestige of office.


Campello gave The Herald-Mail copies of his complaints.

Zimmerman and Parson-McBean are Building Community founding members, group spokesman and founding member Dan Kennedy said.

Over the past several months, Building Community members quietly have met to talk about racism, diversity and prejudice in the community.

Zimmerman declined to comment about the complaints Thursday.

Parson-McBean - the subject of an unrelated ethics complaint by Campello in March - could not be reached for comment.

At Tuesday's council meeting, she denied that Building Community was a city effort or that she directed city employees to help.

Based on his interpretation of Aug. 30, 2005, city council minutes, Campello wrote in his complaint that Parson-McBean "had no authority to direct the staff of the City of Hagerstown to work on this project."

Minutes of that meeting say, referring to Parson-McBean: "She stated she and staff have been working to identify leaders in the City."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II wouldn't talk about the substance of the complaints. "I believe the onus falls on the ethics commission now," he said.

Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said Thursday that the county ethics commission hadn't scheduled a date to discuss the complaints.

The five-member commission can issue an opinion on Campello's complaints, but it's up to the city council to impose sanctions.

Campello, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor last year, said he supports the concept of Building Community, but objects to city officials keeping it a mystery. Controversy "would have been over and done with" if the city had fully explained the group, he said.

Campello filed an ethics complaint against Parson-McBean in March because she accepted a ride in a city police car to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration in January. She had been stopped for driving a vehicle with an expired registration.

The county ethics commission ruled that Parson-McBean used the prestige of her city position to get the ride, but cleared her of an allegation that she accepted something worth more than $25 from an agency the city regulates.

On March 21, other council members and Bruchey voted 3-2 to accept her apology and have her donate a total of $120 to the Memorial Recreation Center and Police Athletic League, but to take no further action.

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