Resolution in State Ethics Commission Filing: Gillespie Pays Civil Fine
Per a press release from the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, former Weston Selectman Douglas Gillespie violated the Conflict of Interest law and has been assessed a $8,000 Civil Penalty. Conflict of interest law bars municipal employees from officially participating in matters in which they or their immediate family have a financial interest.
Gillespie violated this legal prohibition by participating as a selectman in discussions regarding whether to lift the development restriction for the Boston Properties affordable housing proposal while he and his family were in initial conversations with a developer for their property at 751-761 Boston Post Road. He also violated this prohibition when he approved the response to an email concerning his involvement in affordable housing matters.
Conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from using their official positions for private gain. In a further violation, Gillespie used the authority of his selectman position to direct the assistant to the town manager to alter meeting minutes to conceal a potential conflict of interest law violation and by providing his family members and their attorneys with nearly instant access to emails containing information about opposition, support, and proposals that would compete with their own plan. The full press release is available here.
On a separate but related note, a claim was also filed by private party with the state ethics commission regarding Select Board* member Harvey Boshart. This claim alleged that he also had a conflict of interest violation. The allegation was investigated by the Commission and not recommended for action.
At this time, there are a multitude of lawsuits affecting the progress of the affordable housing at 751-761 Boston Post Road, and it is not clear to the Owl at least what is the current situation with that property. The so-called Weston Whopper at 518 South Avenue is progressing through the Zoning Board process, while 104 Boston Post Road appears to be caught up in other legal messiness.
Weston continues to be under the 10% affordable housing requirement set by the state of Massachusetts. The Boston Properties discussions that caused the conflict issues were a step towards reaching a friendly safe harbor, but would not have in itself brought the town into compliance. More recently, another option is being discussed at Riverside, also known as the former Liberty Mutual location. Discussions on “40B” and affordable housing will continue long after this case is closed.
*(nomenclature changed from Selectman to Select Board member in 2019)