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Berlin Ethics Committee OKs Gulyas request

(July 30, 2015) At-large Councilmember Thom Gulyas’ will be allowed to bid on town projects as a vendor, a practice normally forbidden by town code, following a ruling by the Berlin Ethics Committee on Thursday.
The ruling came with two stipulations: Gulyas cannot have access to the bids from other vendors, and he cannot have access to town staff on matters relating to the bid during the bidding process.
Town Administrator Laura Allen said a similar approach was taken last year when the town explored buying the former Tyson plant from District 1 Council-member Troy Purnell.
Allen said there was nothing to prohibit a sitting councilmember from having access to individual bids, although she did say it was an “atypical” practice.
“Because of the situation where the councilmember would be essentially representing the bidder in the process, it’s even more important that he not have access,” she said. “If we had a deadline of Friday and some bids came in on Monday and Tuesday, if he’s bidding, you would want to make sure that he didn’t have access to those bids, which would inform his response.
“I think the ethics commission was, in an abundance of caution, just making sure that the process that Councilmember Gulyas needs to follow was very clear,” Allen added.
Gulyas, the owner of ACE Printing & Mailing in Berlin, said he was pleased with the results of the hearing. He had asked specifically for permission to enter bids for town printing and mailing jobs.
“I had no issue with the ruling,” he said. “I understood the two basic caveats and I thanked everyone for their time, and they thanked me for coming to them first.
“I don’t want to do anything to embarrass myself or the town or this mayor and council,” Gulyas added. “It’s not about that, but they’re buying a little printing here and there. I’d at least be able to throw my hat in. That’s all. I’m not going to retire off of it.”
Gulyas estimated the town annually spends less than $30,000 on printing. Currently, he said he was doing, “some envelopes here and there for the town administrator’s office.”
“All I really want to do is when they need a bid for, say, 5,000 rack cards, I want to be able to put in my bid,” Gulyas said. “That’s it. Either I get it or I don’t.”
The ethics commission is expected to publish a letter stating its recommendation later this week.