A complaint filed this week with the Town of Monroe’s dormant Board of Ethics contends that four Town Board members violated the town ethics code by fostering religious segregation when they voted to cede 164 acres of Monroe to the Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel.
The Sept. 28 letter cites a section of the town code that says town officers and board members cannot “discriminate or cause voluntary segregation” based on creed or other factors. And that, the letter signers said, is what Supervisor Harley Doles and councilmen Dan Burke, Gerry McQuade and Rick Colon did when they voted in favor of a 164-acre annexation petition on Sept. 8 that will extend an all-Satmar village.
The complaint also contends that Doles violated another ethics provision by making statements to a reporter after a June 10 public hearing on the annexation proposals that gave “the impression that he was improperly influenced by his desire to perform the service of the leaders of Kiryas Joel.” In remarks later quoted on the Jewish news website Vos Iz Neias, Doles invoked the late Satmar founder Joel Teitelbaum and promised to do “whatever I have to do to be able to provide this service to Hashem,” using a Jewish term for God.
Three leaders of the United Monroe citizens group and a fourth Monroe resident signed the letter and submitted it as individual citizens, not on behalf of United Monroe. Though it is unclear what, if anything, the town ethics board will do with the complaint, John Allegro, one of the signers, said this week: “We want to use every law that is at our disposal to be sure that we have good government.”
Doles responded on Friday that the town’s nine-member ethics board has only four members who have signed their oaths of office, and therefore lacks the quorum it would need to meet and consider the complaint. He suggested that either the town or the letter signers forward the complaint to the state’s ethics board — the Joint Commission on Public Ethics — and said he welcomed its review of the “politically inspired” allegations.
“Let’s go to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and let them decide,” Doles said.
Asked about his pledge to provide “service to Hashem,” Doles said he meant that he was acting on his religious beliefs and not that he was favoring Kiryas Joel’s Hasidim. “Whatever you call him, God is God,” he said.