North Salem Town Board Revisiting 40-Year-Old Ethics Code

NORH SALEM, N.Y.--The Town Board plans to formally update and reinforce its decades-old ethics code beginning at its next meeting, Oct.10.

“This, of course, is not something I’m suggesting because I think there’s an ethics problem in North Salem,” said Councilman Martin Aronchick, who proposed the revisions. “It’s something I think we collectively should do to show that we care about compliance and ethics.”

The town’s current code of ethics (Chapter 18) hasn’t been revisited in 40 years, he said, adding that other municipalities in the region, specifically North Castle and New Castle, have recently enacted new codes of ethics that he thinks would serve as good models for North Salem.

Sign Up for E-News

“[The towns] define things very specifically,” Aronchick explained. “Specific is good in this area where you’re trying to create bright-line rules.”

For example, North Salem’s code of ethics prohibits town officers and employees from directly or indirectly soliciting gifts valued at $75 or more under circumstances where “it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him or could reasonably be expected to influence him in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part.”

While members of the board said they felt such rules were obvious, Aronchick said that general guidelines such as that leave the rules open to interpretation. Is the $75 price tag a one-time gift? Or is it an annual cap? Is an official allowed to accept a cup of coffee during a meeting? And are officials required to keep track of such instances to enure they don’t exceed the $75 limit? These are the kinds of questions Aronchick said he was interested in answering.

The other board members were receptive to making changes, but were hesitant to use the other towns’ policies as by-the-book models for revisions, because some issues were not applicable in North Salem.

One parameter in another town’s code, for instance, indicated persons affiliated or involved with political groups or parties are ineligible for certain boards. Supervisor Warren Lucas pointed out that in a small town such as North Salem, “You’d run out of people” to fill those roles.

Aronchick stressed that his intention when offering the other codes as examples was not to model them exactly, but to refer to them as guidelines. “I don’t think we should craft a new code,” he added, saying he just wants the board to conceptually discuss what additions or revisions they might like to make.

“There are provisions that we probably all agree we should have,” he said of the other towns’ codes. “[And] there are others that may be [iffier] that we should talk about, accept or reject.”

Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein supported the idea and said he would review the material further.

“I think we practice a lot of these rules already, just inherently,” Councilman Brent Golisano said. “But I think Martin is right; we should look to adopt some of these rules.”

Lucas offered some sage advice.

“We had a very simple thing at IBM: It’s called the smell test,” Lucas said. “If it doesn’t smell good, don’t do it.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

North Salem

Latimer for County Executive

(Editor’s note: This is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinions of Halston Media.)

State Sen. George Latimer, the Democratic candidate for county executive, believes that the public, not the politicians, should determine whether they want new or expanded facilities on county property. He harshly criticizes Republican County Executive Rob Astorino, who is seeking ...

'The Wizard of Oz' Has Come to Life

Watching Hollywood implode for the past 10 days has been illuminating. Daily there are more and more stories of corruption surfacing, as well as new players coming to the fore. Women and men who had silenced themselves for years are finally getting a chance to speak up now in an atmosphere where they are far more likely to be believed. It might even be time to start investigating the creepy ...

'My Husband Thinks I Am a Hoarder'

People tell me that—their husbands think they are hoarders or they think that themselves. I’ve been a professional organizer for a long time and 99 percent of the time, these people are not hoarders. In fact, I’ve only met three in the last 13 years. 

Hoarding is a mental disorder, an aspect of being obsessive-compulsive (check ICD Clutter–Hoarding Scale) and it ...

Kids and Their Screens

“Kids, I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.

“Kids, who can understand anything they say…?

“Why can’t they be like we were?

“Perfect in every way,

“What’s the matter with kids today?”

When Lee Adams, who lives in northern Westchester, penned those laugh-worthy lyrics for the Broadway musical “Bye ...

Don’t Call Me... I’ll Call You

“Hello, hello,” I said, picking up the phone when I saw my husband’s number come up on my Caller ID.


“Hellllloooooooooo?” I said louder.

“Can I have a tall, decaf, skim mocha Frappucino,” I heard my husband say. It sounded like he wasn’t talking directly into his phone, but rather from a galaxy far, far ...

Helping English Language Learning Students Who Are Learning Disabled

Dana Stahl, a learning specialist and educational consultant, will address educational questions and concerns that parents may have regarding their children’s academic development and progress in school. Topics can center on such concerns as how to handle homework dilemmas or what questions to ask at a CSE meeting. Questions can range from “How best do parents advocate for their ...

Croton Falls Firefighters And Community Mark 125th Anniversary

October 19, 2017

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.--Nearly all of the Croton Falls Volunteer Fire Department’s 140 members and an additional 250 of their closest friends and family enjoyed an evening of nostalgia and fun in celebration of the department’s 125th anniversary.

Mark Morin, chairman of the board of commissioners, said the event officialy sold out the morning of. He and other officials said it was a ...