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'Leaking never justified'

Councilors call for ethics sanctions

June 24, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Across the board, town councilors said they deplore the fact one of their members leaked executive session material to this newspaper, an incident that is now subject of a police investigation.

"It's ongoing and going to get more intense," said Chairman Steven Lazo, who called for it Monday after being called over the weekend about a proposal to rent the senior center to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

While Lazo declined further comment about the case, several other councilors were willing to talk in some depth about the general issue. All declined knowing who passed on the information, but several said the police had visited them to go through Monday's meeting packets.

"[The officers] came to my house and said I passed with flying colors," said Albert Vecchia just before Wednesday's debate.

"Leaking is never justified," he added, noting executive sessions deal with "too many delicate things" whose exposure "might hurt the bargaining process."

"I think it's up to the individual councilors to police themselves," Vecchia said. "… If caught, they should be reported to the Ethics Commission, and the Ethics Commission should come down hard on them."

In fact, that commission does investigate such incidents. Under MGL Chapter 268A, section 23, public officials are prohibited from "improperly disclos[ing] materials or data within the exemptions to the definition of public records as defined by section seven of chapter four, and were acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interest."

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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