Newburg Eliminates Ethics Code and Abolishes Ethics Commission

Some day, I would love to spend some time to understand all of the backstory in Newburg. Essentially, it looks like a couple of families with deep grudges who are warring against each other in local government. The result is that it makes Newburg look like a backward hillbilly hamlet where they have failed the experiment of self-governance.

NEWBURG — Elected village officials here late Thursday agreed to abolish Newburg’s Ethics Commission and eliminate its own ethics code.

The unanimous vote — two Village Board members were absent — would put most future ethics disputes in the hands of the local district attorney or the state’s attorney general.

The move came roughly a month after the commission’s own chairman, Mike Heili, had sought to accuse village President Rena Chesak of perjury. That accusation came after Heili raised issues with statements he said Chesak had made at an ethics hearing he oversaw earlier this year.

But the attempted complaint — Deanna Alexander, Newburg’s interim administrator and clerk, has said the filing by Heili wasn’t notarized and that she planned to return it to him — had raised ethics issues of its own.

Besides filing an ethics dispute that his own commission would have ostensibly overseen — making for a potential conflict of interest, Alexander has said — Heili had also apparently raised questions about his impartiality this year when Alexander reported he’d suggested plans to continue filing more complaints against Chesak.

“There was concern expressed by multiple trustees regarding the ethics commission and the fact that it has more or less — it’s become overused,” village Attorney Ian Prust said moments after board members exited closed-session talks on the matter, and just before they voted to abolish the commission.

“It’s become a tool for different people to seek political retribution against other individuals,” Prust continued, “and they’re incredibly concerned about the cost of the ethics proceedings happening on a regular basis.”