The ethics complaint filed May 4 against Mayor Lionel Rivera by the Ron Johnson, CEO of Central Bancorp, makes serious allegations against the mayor, to which he ought to respond swiftly, openly and honestly.
Johnson complaint alleges, among other things, that “The Mayor has and continues to negotiate on behalf of the City with parties (Landco) and Ray Marshall) with whom a direct conflict of interest exists. The conflict exists by virtue of Mayor Rivera’s employment and compensation at UBS Securities where Mr. Rivera manages accounts controlled by Landco and Ray Marshall, from which Mr. Rivera receives direct or indirect compensation.”
Rivera is an investment adviser and Marshall had money available for investment. The mayor can hardly survive on council’s miserly stipend of $6,250 annually, so he has to work. Advising investors is, in part, what he does for a living.
So where’s the impropriety?
Here are the alternatives:
- The mayor had no such business relationship, and, ergo, no impropriety of any kind.
- The mayor had such a relationship, and it was of such a nature that he profited thereby, and he did not disclose this to council. While he has a fiduciary relationship with his customers, he is also an elected official who owes his loyalty to the residents of the community. In a case where loyalties so clearly conflict, he must notify council of an undisclosed conflict regarding negotiations with LandCo, and recuse himself from all votes and negotiations.
- The mayor’s relationship was so inconsequential, or so fleeting and transitory, that he simply didn’t regard it as conflictual. In such a case, he should have disclosed it anyway, but his failure to do so is understandable.
Rumours regarding the alleged accounts have been circulating through the city’s business community for months. The time has come for the mayor to act, and to tell the people who elected him to office the whole truth.
It won’t do for him to hide behind the supposed “confidentiality” policies of his employer or his industry. It’s difficult to understand how the interests of the city, of UBS or of the mayor himself are served by continued stonewalling.
Every politician who tries to cover up his or her missteps finds that the coverup is more damaging than the original mistake. Confession and contrition work – lies and evasions don’t.
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