Saturday, 2:15 PM
City Council staffer fined $1,000 by Ethics Commission
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
The Boston City Council's assistant research director has been fined $1,000 for trying to use his ties to the Council to get a valet parking company to pay for a long scratch on his car, the State Ethics Commission said today.
The commission issued a decision and order in the case of Lincoln Smith after hearings in November and closing arguments in February. Smith can appeal the decision to Superior Court for the next 30 days.
Michael Traft, Smith's attorney, said, "We're certainly investigating the options at this point."
He denied that Smith had tried to use his connections in the dispute, saying, "He didn't have any clout, and he didn't try to use it."
The commission said Smith used a valet parking service at Brigham and Women's Hospital on Nov. 17, 2005. When his car was returned, he pointed out a long scratch on the side. The parking attendant denied that the damage had occurred at his company's facility. Smith then asked to speak to a supervisor.
While talking with two managers from VPNE Parking Solutions, which ran the valet service, Smith became agitated and told the managers that he was "on the Boston City Council," and "cognizant" of parking issues in the area, the commission said.
He also said that "permits have to come through my desk in my office," the commission said.
While he wasn't actually a City Councilor, by invoking his ties to the City Council, Smith was using his official position, the commission said.
"Using one's official position to influence the resolution of a private dispute can only undermine confidence in government," Karen Nober, executive director of the commission, said in a statement. "The conflict of interest law protects the public's right to fair treatment from government, and prohibits public employees from exploiting their official positions for personal gain."
Traft said that the city had conducted an internal investigation and no action was ever taken against Smith, who still works for the council. He also insisted that Smith was in the right in the original dispute -- that the evidence indicated that the parking company had damaged Smith's car.
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