AUBURN – A city ethics board should have enough members now to review a controversial Great Falls Plaza parking garage vote.

Former School Committee Member Howard Hymes will join the Auburn Ethics Panel as an associate member. The group is scheduled to meet Friday morning to discuss the process, according to City Clerk Mary Lou Magno.

“They won’t be discussing any specific cases yet, I don’t believe,” Magno said. Friday’s meeting likely will be organizational, to receive information about the ordinance and to get a copy of the petition from both councilors, she said.

Councilors Bob Mennealy and Belinda Gerry hold that Councilor Kelly Matzen, a local attorney, has a business relationship with Great Falls Plaza developers and should not have voted on a bond issue for a plaza parking garage in March. The two asked the Ethics Panel to review Matzen’s vote.

The three-member panel met late in March, but member Earl Austin recused himself, saying he was a friend of Matzen and had a conflict of interest. The Rev. Paul Martz and panel Chairman Peter Garcia then asked the city to appoint an alternate member. Councilors appointed Dennis Mailhot in April, only to have Martz resign. He also serves on the Community Development Loan Committee and city ordinances ban Ethics Panel members from having other city affiliations.

The Ethics Panel was created by city ordinance in 1994 but had not convened until this spring. It can give an advisory opinion to the City Council, but the opinion is not legally binding. It would have to be adopted by the City Council.

“They’ve never met before and there is no set structure,” Magno said. “The ordinance isn’t specific, so they kind of set their own parameters.”


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