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O’Neil cleared of ethics charge

(4/5) An ethics complaint against Emmitsburg Commissioner William B. O’Neil, Jr. by former town planner has been dismissed.

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.

The three-page complaint received a two-paragraph response on Mar. 9 from town ethics commission attorney Harry deMoll saying, “the complaint does not merit further proceedings.”

“The ethics commission looked at the complaint and it did not raise any issue under the ethics ordinance,” deMoll said in an interview.

Lucas said he wasn’t surprised at the outcome and he expects to take the complaint to the Maryland State Ethics Commission.

“They (the town commission) did not say the things I outlined weren’t true,” Lucas said. “They said they weren’t ethics violations.”

Lucas said he suspects that “the only way to get to the truth is to get O’Neil under oath.”

Mayor Jim Hoover hopes this is the end of case. “Mr. Lucas should reconsider the validity of the complaint and accept the commission’s decision,” he said.

O’Neil said he never understood what the basis for the complaint was about. He said it referred to a situation concerning whether the town was taking responsibility for the road where O’Neil lives. The complaint also dealt with statements O’Neil made concerning how town staff handled the situation.

“The town at the time was asserting they had not accepted the road and not plowing it,” O’Neil said. “They can’t say they’re not accepting it and then ticket. The town attorney agreed with me and my ticket was refunded.”

O’Neil, who has faced and is facing similar situations, said he doesn’t like the way local politics has become about personal destruction.

“My father believed in honor and integrity and he gave me his good name. I also believe in honor and integrity and try to live that way. This is just dragging that good name through the mud,” O’Neil said.

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