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Burk Wants Disclosure Forms for Council

Donnelly said the language does not make clear whether the rules apply only to land development applications or include other types of business before the council, such as zoning permits.

In addition, Donnelly said the rules might not apply to a meeting between a council member and a developer before the developer submits an application to the town.

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Council member Robert J. "Bob" Zoldos said the process does not need to be altered.

"The minutes are record keeping enough," he said.

Umstattd also said she sees no need to replace the current disclosure system.

She said it would be easier for members of the public to learn about a Town Council meeting by watching it on cable TV or looking up the minutes online than by poring over documents at Town Hall.

However, Umstattd said she would support the requirement to fill out the form if it were an addition to, rather than substitute for, the current procedure.

She said such a form should include a brief explanation of the substance of a conversation and perhaps be used to report phone conversations with applicants if such discussions extended beyond simply scheduling a meeting.

Although the town ethics policy is difficult to enforce, Umstattd said, it can help the public keep tabs on elected officials.

"A lapse in memory, which can happen, is not tantamount to a willful violation," she said. "You want to make sure the mayor and the council members are not involved in a backroom deal."

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