By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CAIRO — Four of the five members of the town of Cairo’s Board of Ethics Review resigned from their posts effective immediately, citing harassment for their work on the board.
There are five members on the board, which was established by the town by resolution in 2010.
Four of the members stepped down in a joint letter of resignation submitted to the town board at the board’s March 16 meeting.
Resigning from the Board of Ethics Review were members John Vandenburg, Edward Brandt, Monica Kenny-Keff and Leonard Asaro. Only one ethics board member remains.
“Since our respective appointments, we have had town employees and community members spread falsehoods about us personally, we have been harassed in ways, and we have received nothing but trouble for volunteering our time to attempt to help this town,” Vandenburg read from the letter of resignation. “We now understand why Greene County does not make public who the members of the Greene County Board of Ethics are.”
The letter goes on to state that resigning members feel there is insufficient support for the work the ethics board does.
“Because of this, coupled with some of the recent decisions some on the town board have made on different topics, we believe there will be no support for the work of the Board of Ethics by the majority of the Town of Cairo Board,” according to the letter. “Also, we do not feel that any recommendations made or investigations concluded will be given any respect by the majority of this board or those who were perpetrating the harassing behavior toward the members.”
The letter did not specify who was involved in the alleged harassment.
Kenny-Keff distributed copies of the letter to each board member and to the town clerk.
Town Supervisor Jason Watts thanked the board members for their service and said he understood the reasons behind their decision.
“I know exactly where everything is coming from and I couldn’t agree any more with you. I totally understand it,” Watts said at the meeting.
The supervisor declined Thursday to elaborate on the board members’ reasons, but said he was “not really” surprised by their decision.
All four members’ terms were set to expire in December 2023.
Kenny-Keff said at the meeting that she was appointed to the ethics board in July 2021 by a unanimous vote of the previous town board.
“Since that time, I have been personally harassed,” Kenny-Keff said. “I know that issues came up with Mr. Vandenburg, Mr. Asaro was approached. When we tried to do something good for the town, volunteering, we were crucified or attacked. It’s not worth it for us.”
She declined to provide specifics about the alleged harassment.
Watts said Thursday the town council will launch a search for new members for the Board of Ethics Review.
The ethics board conducts hearings, recommends disciplinary action, prepares reports, provides training and ensures town officers and employees adhere to the town’s ethics policy, among other duties, according to the town website.