Mirabito needs to stay out of gas issues

Bill Mirabito owns part of a gas services company that is actively preparing to capitalize on natural gas drilling in the region. If gas from the town of Oneonta passes through his company's pipeline, he will benefit financially.

As a town councilman, he is in a position to help make that happen. To many, this looks like a conflict between Mr. Mirabito's personal business interests and the public interest.

The Oneonta town code of ethics is essentially an honor code. Through eight "standards of conduct," it relies on the good faith of individuals to recognize when conflicts arise, or when circumstances might "raise suspicion" of a conflict. In such cases, the common practice is recusal from participation, to preserve trust in government.

We have just seen this code at work.

When it was discovered that two members of the ethics board had signed a petition against fracking, the entire board stepped aside to avoid the appearance of a conflict so the subject of the ethics review, Mr. Mirabito, could have faith in impartial treatment. The two board members could have argued that no actual conflict exists, and lawyers might well agree.

But they did the right thing, avoiding controversy and maintaining trust.

Meanwhile, even though his connections to the gas industry have spawned numerous complaints, an ethics review and an editorial urging his recusal, Mr. Mirabito refuses to acknowledge that appearance of a conflict exists. He refuses to grant the public the ethical treatment he himself has just received.

It gets worse.

By exploiting weakness in the ethics code for himself, Mirabito has set a shameful precedent.

Are you a self-interested town official whose personal business has become a topic before town government? No sweat. Don't recuse. Just refuse to budge and cite Mirabito, Harlem, Merzig, et al.

Peter Exton

Oneonta

A plea for diplomacy

Iran was doing just fine before their democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was overthrown by our CIA and its British counterpart.

In 1953, we installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was an authoritarian dictator. He relied heavily on United States support in order to remain in power. Eventually, after 26 years, Pahlavi was overthrown in February 1979, which brings us to the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Maybe if we didn't meddle with Iranian affairs, Iran would still be a democracy? Instead, the Iranians had a U.S.-supported monarch (Pahlavi) as their repressive leader for 26 years.

When people are repressed, they fall back on their safeguards and that safety may lie in their religion. Iran has about 80 million people that are not all crazy lunatics that want to destroy Israel. Just like the majority of American citizens do not want another costly war, even though it seems that the Republican candidates (minus Ron Paul) are eager to have one.

In conclusion, we are forcing the Iranian regime to remain intact by our own actions. It is true that most Iranian citizens do not care for the current regime, but what choice do they have? I mean, look at what happened to Iraq and Libya after they cooperated with the West.

Seriously, how big of a threat is Iran? Greece has a little over 11 million citizens and yet outspends Iran on defense and military.

We need to change our policies with Iran by being diplomatic and sympathetic. Democracy by force only builds more resentment and stronger Iranian nationalism.

Ivan Brkaric

Hancock

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