Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

My article for the May/June issue of the Community Preservation Coalition's CPA Update provides an overview of the State's Conflict of Interest Law for CPC members.  Below is an excerpt: 

A common concern of Community Preservation Committee (CPC) members is potential conflict of interest issues between service on a CPC and other activities in which they are involved.  These concerns can be addressed by becoming familiar with the Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law and knowing when and where to seek advice. 

 The purpose of the Conflict of Interest Law (MGL c.268A) (the Law) is to protect the public interest by regulating situations where public and private interests intersect.  A Community Preservation Committee member is considered a municipal employee (or, possibly, a special municipal employee) as defined by the Law.  Generally, sections 17 through 23 of the Law specifically pertain to municipal employees . . .

Wearing multiple public hats

As a CPC member you are very likely to serve on more than one municipal board.  In fact, five of each community’s CPC members are statutorily required to also be members of other municipal boards and to be appointed to the CPC by those boards (i.e., Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, Board of Parks Commissioners, and Planning Board).

 If you are appointed to the CPC by one of these boards, you may wonder whether you have a conflict if your board is applying to the CPC for CPA funds or if your board is deliberating on the same project that the CPC is.  These situations happen quite often.  For example, the Conservation Commission could apply to the CPC for funds to purchase a property to protect open space.  Or, the Planning Board may be considering whether to grant a special permit to an affordable housing development that is also seeking CPA funds. . .

 The full article can be viewed on the Community Preservation Coalition's website.