January 18, 2012 —
ALBANY, NY — The consensus of opinion at an ethics course at the recent NYS Association of Towns training for newly elected officials was that it is a conflict of interest for town officials who have signed natural gas leases to make land-use decisions related to natural gas drilling in their towns.
The event, which took place on January 11 through 13, was attended by local officials from a variety of local towns including Tusten, Highland and Lumberland. Newly elected Tusten Councilman Tony Ritter asked the lecturer, James Cole, Esq. of the Association of Towns of the State of New York, “What would your opinion be if you had a few town officials who had signed gas leases—and the town board is responsible for legislation of land-use planning—would that be a conflict of interest, knowing that a few people on the board had already signed a contract with a specific company?” Cole repeated the question to the crowd of approximately 300 people, and then asked the room at large, “How many people think it’s a problem?” After virtually every hand in the room shot up, Cole said, “There’s your answer.”
For an MP3 of the interchange, click here.