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Ethics panel to review complaint against council

By REGAN FOSTER rfoster@nwherald.com

WOODSTOCK - A board dedicated to studying an ethics complaint against the Woodstock City Council and attorney will convene Friday.

The city Ethics Commission will meet at noon in the council chambers to review the complaint, filed earlier this month against the five-member council and City Attorney Richard Flood. The commission will consist of City Manager Tim Clifton, Police Chief Robert Lowen, and resident Denise Graff Ponstein.

Mayor Brian Sager appointed Ponstein to the position this week. He said he looked for a person who demonstrated exceptional integrity, an ability to examine both sides of an issue, a strong interest in and a commitment to the community, and a solid, positive reputation.

Ponstein, the president of Indepth Graphics and a longtime city resident, said serving was part of being a good citizen.

"I care about the city and about the town," she said. "I'm a fair and impartial person, and I listen to the issues."

Woodstock-area resident Jerry Sufranski alleged in a complaint received March 13 that the City Council and city attorney violated the municipal ethics policy in early February. Council members Feb. 7 unanimously approved a resolution announcing their support of Woodstock School District 200's building referendum and encouraging residents to vote.

Sufranski alleged that the resolution violated prohibited political activities as laid out by the ethics ordinance. The city attorney's office argued that the matter was within the council's authority.

For his part, Sager expressed faith in the process.

"I believe that everyone has a right to free speech and everyone has a right to raise questions," Sager said. "I have a tremendous amount of faith that due process will serve the individuals of this community."

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