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The Sweden Town Council’s Many Conflicts of Interest

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Several people have asked for more detailed information on the multiple conflicts of interest among the members of the Sweden Town Council.

To understand the conflicts of interest, it’s a good idea to use classic propositional logic, which dates back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BCE – 322 BCE).

In propositional logic, you use conditionals, which are statements joined by “if… then…”

If statement A is true and if statement B is true, then statement C must also be true.

Here is an example.

A. If Paris it the capital of France.
B. If the capital of France has a population of more than a million people.
C. Then, Paris has a population of more than a million people.

You can apply the same propositional logic to violations of the Sweden Code of Ethics by the members of the Sweden Town Council.

The Code of Ethics is in section 19 of the Sweden Town Code.

Section 19-5E of the Sweden Town Code clearly prohibits even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

§ 19-5
E. A Town employee shall not, by the employee's conduct, give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence the employee or unduly enjoy the employee's favor in the performance of the employee's official duties or that the employee is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.

So let’s apply propositional logic to the relationship between Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook, who is a real estate agent in town, and her father, Walter Windus, who is the Building Inspector PT/Code Enforcement Officer for the Town of Sweden.

It is Walter Windus’ job to inspect the properties in the Town of Sweden for code violations, including those being sold or rented by his daughter, Danielle Windus-Cook, and her employees.

A. If Code Enforcement Officer Walter Windus is the father of Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook,
B. If it is reasonable for a father to be affected by the kinship of the father/daughter relationship.
C. Then, there is a reasonable basis for the impression that Danielle Windus-Cook may enjoy the favor of her father, Walter Windus, in the performance of his official duties as Building Inspector PT/Code Enforcement Officer.

The simple fact that Walter Windus and Danielle Windus-Cook are father/ daughter, gives, “ …reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence the employee or unduly enjoy the employee's favor in the performance of the employee's official duties or that the employee is affected by the kinship…”

A. If it is a violation of the Town Code to give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence the employee.
B. It is reasonable for a father to be affected by the kinship of the father/daughter relationship.
C. Then, both Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook, Building Inspector PT/Code Enforcement Officer Walter Windus, have violated the Town of Sweden Code of Ethics, because of their father/daughter relationship.

Simple logic shows that both Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook and her father, Building Inspector PT/Code Enforcement Officer Walter Windus, have violated the provisions of Section 19-5E of the Sweden Town Code

It doesn’t matter whether there has been any collusion between the two to hide code violations. The law is clear. Any conduct that leaves the “impression” of an impropriety is a violation of the Code of Ethics.

The fact that they are father and daughter, combined with the fact that the father is responsible for inspecting the properties owned by the daughter, gives the daughter an unfair advantage over her real estate competitors.

That is why it is a violation of the Town Code of Ethics for Danielle Windus-Cook and Walter Windus to hold the positions in town government that they hold.

Section 19-5G of the Sweden Town Code also clearly prohibits even the appearance of a conflict of interest,

§ 19-5
G. Each Town employee shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that the employee is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of the employee's trust.

A. If it violates the Town’s Code of Ethics to pursue a course of action that raises suspicion among the public.
B. If Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook engages in conduct that raises suspicion among the public.
C. Then, Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook has violated the Town’s Code of Ethics.

The father/daughter relationship between Walter Windus and Danielle Windus-Cook had definitely raised suspicion among the public, so they have both violated the town’s Code of Ethics.

Section 19-6 of the Sweden Town Code explains the penalties for violating the Town of Sweden’s Code of Ethics.

§ 19-6. Penalties for offenses
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any person who shall knowingly and intentionally violate any of the provisions of this code may be fined, suspended or removed from office or employment, as the case may be, in the manner provided by law.

A. If a person who violates the Town’s Code of Ethics, “may be fined, suspended or removed from office or employment”.
B. If Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook has violated the Town’s Code of Ethics.
C. Then, Council-woman Danielle Windus-Cook “may be fined, suspended or removed from office or employment.”

The Town of Sweden’s Code of Ethics is published on the town website.

Read it, and then contact the members of the Sweden Town Council and ask them why Danielle Windus-Cook has not been asked to resign from the Town Council because she has violated the town’s Code of Ethics.

To contact Supervisor Rob Carges you can send an email to supervisor@townofsweden.org.

To contact Council Members Donald Roberts, Danielle Windus-Cook, Rebecca Donohue, and Robert Muesebeck," you have to send the email to Leisa Strabel, leisas@townofsweden.org.

Make sure you put "To Donald Roberts, Danielle Windus-Cook, Rebecca Donohue, and Robert Muesebeck," in the Subject line.

Maybe someday, the Town of Sweden government will assign a separate email address for each member of the Town Council, but they still haven’t done it yet.

Perhaps town residents should start a pool on how long it takes the town government to do that.

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