NBC 10 I-Team: Ethics complaint against town official to be investigated
A conflict of interest complaint lodged against a Coventry town official who works for an earth moving contractor getting town jobs is moving forward with a full investigation by the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. The announcement came at the commission’s Tuesday meeting in Providence in connection to a complaint filed against resident Glen Skurka.
The issue targets Skurka’s publicly appointed role as chairman of the town’s sewer subcommittee and his private job as a project manager for D’Ambra Construction. The company has earned more than $2 million in town sewer work and other jobs over the past 10 years.
The complaint filed by resident James Pierson alleges Skurka hasn’t recused himself or stepped aside on about 12 different D’Ambra-related matters. Ethics Commission members voted 6-0 Tuesday to move forward.
“The commission made an initial determination that the complaint states facts that, if true, would constitute a knowing and willful violation of the code and authorized a full investigation of the matter,” said Ross Cheit, with the Ethics Commission.
Coventry taxpayers have publicly questioned the high cost of the sewer program, with bills topping about $20,000 to hook up each home. Negativity surrounding the sewer program has halted the installation of any new pipe.
Earlier this month, the NBC 10 I-Team tried speaking with Skurka after a nearly three hour public sewer sub-committee meeting. He refused to answer any questions and quickly exited a back door.
Pierson, who also heads up Coventry’s Republican Town Committee, asked Skurka to recuse himself before filing the ethics complaint.
"It’s the right thing to do. Coventry deserves public officials who hold themselves to the highest ethical standards," he told the I-Team.
Coventry’s town council president is supporting Skurka and called the ethics complaint “a waste of time.” Glenford Shibley told the I-Team it’s a plus for the town to have a knowledgeable person like Skurka on the committee.
“I don’t think it [ethics complaint] has any merit. If they want to investigate, let them investigate,” Shibley said over the phone.
Skurka has served on the unpaid sewer commission since 2009.