AYER -- Selectman Gary Luca disclosed at Tuesday's board meeting that, after consultation with the Ethics Commission, he took a vote on Aug. 7 that could have raised eyebrows under the Conflict of Interest law.
That night, Luca joined the board in its unanimous 5-0 vote to approve a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Ayer and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2544. The union president is Lt. Jeremy Januskiewicz, who is Luca's nephew via marriage.
The one year contract, effective retroactively to July 1, 2012, includes a 2 percent increase in base pay for the firefighters. Luca did not leave the table or room, but participated in the vote while Januskiewicz was seated before him at the selectmen's meeting table.
Neither Luca nor Januskiewicz disclosed their familial relationship during the discussion.
The state Conflict of Interest laws prohibit nepotism under Section 19 of Mass. General Law Chapter 268A. "A municipal employee may not participate in any particular matter in which he or a member of his immediate family (parents, children, siblings, spouse, and spouse's parents, children, and siblings) has a financial interest."
Luca said an Ethics Commission attorney advised that a nephew-in-law is not an "immediate" family member and so there's no nepotism concern with his Aug. 7 vote.
However, Luca said he was advised that the vote could provoke a reasonable person to believe that a conflict could arise in that
Luca said he was taking the action to address a "rumor" that he shouldn't be signing the firefighter contract, nor sign payroll. Luca said he filed the recommended disclosure form with Ayer Town Clerk John Canney on Aug. 17.
Section 23(b)(3) of the Conflict of Interest law states, "A municipal employee may not act in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to think that she would show favor toward someone or that she can be improperly influenced."