James Rada Jr.
(3/1) Emmitsburg’s former town planner has
filed an ethics complaint against Town Commissioner William B. O’Neil Jr.,
accusing him of using his office for personal benefit, lying to the commission
and defaming town staff.
On Feb. 1, former Emmitsburg Town Planner
Michael Lucas sent an ethics complaint to Emmitsburg Ethics Commission Chairman
Ted Brennan “outlining how Emmitsburg Town Commissioner William B. O’Neil Jr.
while serving as a Town Commissioner did violate Section 2.32.030 of the
Emmitsburg Municipal Code (conflicts of interest) in an attempt to influence
public policy that would directly impact him as a private citizen. Moreover,
the complaint demonstrates how Commissioner O’Neil did violate his oath of
office, by providing deliberate and demonstrably false testimony before
officials of the Town of Emmitsburg.
“Furthermore, the complaint demonstrates
how Commissioner O’Neil engaged in a deliberate and malicious campaign designed
to undermine and injure the credibility of the Town’s Planning and Zoning
Department which had rightfully stood in opposition to Mr. O’Neil’s attempts to
subvert the policy process.”
At the core of the complaint is whether
on-street parking should be allowed in the Pembrook Woods Subdivision. O’Neil,
who lives in the subdivision, wants the restriction lifted, but the town has
consistently decided not to do so.
Lucas states that O’Neil spoke in favor of
lifting the restriction at the July 2004 Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning
Commission meeting. Lucas wrote in his complaint, “In an attempt to sway the
Commission, Commissioner O’Neil stated that guests at his house had on two
separate occasions received a total of 23 parking tickets issued by the Town of
Emmitsburg, a deliberate falsehood.”
Lucas points out that a review of the
tickets issued by the town showed no tickets issued from the first Use and
Occupancy Permit to the date O’Neil made his statement. Further, all tickets
were accounted for and found to be in sequential order.
In response, Lucas cites a Dispatch
article from September 2004, in which O’Neil said, “I would think the town
destroys them (once they are contested or rescinded).” (Frederick News Post article on O'Neal allageations)
Then in an Aug. 25, 2004 e-mail to Town
Manager Dave Haller, O’Neil wrote, “I would like to know why my residence is
apparently being targeted for the issuance of tickets.”
By that time, the first ticket in Pembrook
Woods had been issued on Aug. 9.
Lucas wrote in his complaint, “the conduct of Commissioner O’Neil lies far
outside the bounds of acceptable ethical behavior…”
When contacted by The Dispatch for a
comment on the complaint, O’Neil wrote in an e-mail, “It is a violation of
state and municipal ethics ordinances for anyone, Mr. Lucas or myself, to
comment in relation to a complaint or review by the committee until the matter
Calls to Lucas and Brennan were not
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