A recently appointed Tisbury finance committee member said she has consulted with the State Ethics Commission about possible conflicts of interest that may arise during the time she serves, because of her husband’s high-profile job with the town.
In consecutive votes on Aug. 25, Tisbury’s finance committee and select board appointed Kelley Metell to the committee along with two other people. Metell, an Oak Bluffs School special education teacher, is married to Tisbury DPW director Kirk Metell. In addition to the DPW, Metell oversees Tisbury’s facilities and wastewater departments. According to his wife, so long as she doesn’t weigh in on payroll and benefit issues related to her husband, any work she does on the committee, even if related to the DPW, won’t run afoul of conflict of interest law.
“I was instructed to call the State Board of Ethics in Boston,” Kelley Metell emailed The Times. “Per a lengthy conversation with one of their attorneys, it is not illegal for me to serve on the FinCom board should I be appointed; however, I would need to recuse myself when it comes to anything having to do with my husband’s pay scale or benefits. I am legally allowed to vote for or against any line items in the DPW budget except for payroll.”
In a subsequent telephone conversation, Metell said she would also be precluded from voting on intertown education matters that could affect her payroll and benefits as a teacher.
She noted she was in the process of filing a disclosure.
As to why she sought to join the committee, Metell said, “it’s time for young people to get involved.” She added, “I’ve always been interested in history and how our government works.”
Metell also said she doesn’t have any overt political goals or secret motives for joining the finance committee. “I don’t have an agenda,” she said. “I’m coming into this with no hidden agenda.”
She made it clear she and her husband don’t discuss work. “Honestly, work doesn’t come home,” she said.
On August 11, during a joint session between the select board and the finance committee, committee member Laura Rose called for caution in considering Metell’s appointment.
“This is a much bigger conflict, nothing personal, Kelley,” Rose said at the time. “[Kirk’s] got a big job, and he oversees a lot of finances and a lot of people’s jobs. It would behoove us to be very careful moving forward with putting Kelley on the committee.”
Laura Rose would come to have her own conflict scenario to contend with. At the next joint session, her daughter India Rose was appointed to the committee. Laura Rose abstained from the vote.