2010-02-25 / Front Page

Commission mulls harbor ordinance

By Iain Wilson

The Jamestown Harbor Commission once again tackled the subject of the commission’s retained earnings – a number that has caused confusion since the group met to discuss the budget for the upcoming year.

At issue is a boat purchased several years ago that is still listed as liquid cash.

It’s a situation that commission Chair Michael DeAngeli referred to as “very strange.”

Though budget talk dominated last Wednesday’s meeting at the Jamestown library, little headway was made because Chris Brown, the commission member in charge of the budget, wasn’t present at the meeting. The commission decided that Harbor Clerk Kim Devlin should meet with Brown to take a closer look at the budget numbers.

In other business, Attorney Mark Liberati spoke to the commission on behalf of Jamestown’s harbormaster, Sam Paterson.

According to a letter written by Liberati, which was addressed to the Town Council and the Harbor Commission, Paterson found unfair a new change to the Harbor Management Ordinance.

The section in question, under the heading of “conflict of interest,” reads, “No member of the Harbor Administrative staff shall accept any gift, favor, emolument or employment from any maritime business doing business in the Town of Jamestown.”

Liberati argued that as the harbormaster position is only part time, Paterson supplements his income through contract diving for several area maritime businesses.

If this clause in the Harbor Management Ordinance remains unchanged, then essentially, Liberati argued, Paterson’s income will be limited to the part-time salary paid to the harbormaster.

Until the position becomes full time, Liberati wrote, “A provision which precludes the Harbor Master from employment with any maritime business doing business in the Town of Jamestown is patently unfair.”

In 2008, the R.I. Ethics Commission provided an advisory opinion to Paterson and Liberati.

The Ethics Commission found that, “Provided that the petitioner, the Harbormaster of the Town of Jamestown…would not be inspecting moorings for which he has provided maintenance services, the petitioner is not prohibited from privately performing mooring maintenance services…while simultaneously employed as the Harbormaster.”

Since the ordinance has been passed by the Harbor Commission, only alterations can be made. The Town Council must approve the ordinance, and will meet with the Harbor Commission during March to review or amend the document.

DeAngeli said the commission may consider altering the language in the section.

As for making the harbormaster position full time, De Angeli said in a phone interview, “The Town Council asked us last year to think about it, if that’s something we should do.”

Though he said it didn’t seem feasible, he added, “In a perfect world, we would have a full-time harbormaster.”

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