Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

June 5, 2014

An obvious conflict for town manager

The town manager, Mr. Reginald Stapczynski, seems to misunderstand conflicts of interest. As a preliminary matter, no letter to the Board of Selectmen clears or removes a conflict of interest. The reporting merely alerts others to the conflict or potential conflict. Further, a conflict may exist even if the subject public official does not sign contracts with the other party.

In the present situation, it is quite clear that Mr. Stapczynski has a conflict of interest, a potential conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest in representing the Town of Andover as its manager and in serving as a director of the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association.

If Mr. Stapczynski fully supports and advocates for the Tufts health plan to be approved by the unions, then it appears that Mr. Stapczynski will not meet his duty as a director of the MIIA.

If Mr. Stapczynski does not support and advocate for the Tufts health plan to be approved by the unions, then it appears that Mr. Stapczynski will not meet his duty as a public official.

If Mr. Stapczynski recuses himself, then it appears that Mr. Stapczynski will not meet his duty (that is, to represent the town) as a public official.

It seems to me that the apparent conflict of interest cannot be resolved.

Even if Mr. Stapczynski now resigns from his position as a director of MIIA, the possibility that harm has been done is high and it will remain unclear whether there is any latent conflict remaining.

It is greatly concerning that Mr. Stapczynski only recently provided a letter to the Board of Selectmen disclosing the conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest. If he has been involved with the MIIA for a number of years, director or not, then why didn’t he report the conflict or potential conflict earlier? Interestingly, the MIIA website reported in February that Mr. Stapczynski was re-elected as a director to a three-year term. That means that Mr. Stapczynski was apparently a director before 2014 and maybe as early as 2011. It is also curious that despite the conflict of interest or the potential conflict of interest being reported to it, the Board of Selectmen failed to act to prevent the conflict or potential conflict from potentially affecting the presentation and/or negotiations with the unions.

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