, Newburyport, MA

March 29, 2013

Gorski isn't fit to serve as selectman

Newburyport Daily News

---- — Groveland Selectman Elizabeth Gorski used her elected position to threaten the police chief and others over the status of her son’s job, according to an investigation by the state Ethics Commission.

For this betrayal of the voters’ trust and violation of conflict-of-interest laws, Gorski should resign.

The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission by police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz because of the “persecution” he said he endured from Gorski over his treatment of her son, police Officer Eric Gorski.

“I filed the complaint because of the persecution that I was enduring as a result of trying to the do the right thing,” the chief said.

Kirmelewicz had placed Eric Gorski on paid administrative leave in 2011. In January 2012, Eric Gorski was taken off paid leave and placed on sick leave, forcing him to use up sick time to continue to be paid, according to the ethics report. Kirmelewicz restored Eric Gorski to active duty last July. The police chief would not discuss the reason for Gorski’s leave, other than to say it was “not disciplinary in nature” and that it has been resolved.

The ethics investigation found that Elizabeth Gorski pressured Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen, her fellow Selectmen Donald Greaney and William Darke, and the president of the police union to have her son restored to active duty.

The investigation found that Gorski repeatedly used her position to pressure town officials to rectify her son’s employment status, even threatening Kirmelewicz and Gillen’s jobs.

“On a least two of those occasions, Gorski made reference to the chief’s and deputy chief’s employment contracts coming up for renewal by the Board of Selectmen,” the ruling said.

One incident involved Gorski approaching Gillen in a Georgetown restaurant and badgering him about her son’s status. Gorski reminded Gillen that his contract renewal was coming up, the report said.

On another occasion, a selectmen’s executive session to discuss Kirmelewicz’s contract, Gorski again exerted pressure.

“Chief Kirmelewicz asked Gorski, ‘Why do you want to take my job away?’ In response, Gorski asked the chief, ‘Why are you ruining my son’s name, reputation and livelihood,’” according to the report.

Kirmelewicz ultimately signed a three-year extension of his contract in 2012 that had the support of Selectmen Greaney and Darke but not Gorski.

The ethics report is essentially a list of charges brought against Gorski. The commission has 90 days to schedule a hearing and consider the allegations, along with possible fines against the selectman. Gorski has a right to challenge the allegations.

Gorski is serving her fifth consecutive three-year term as a selectman. She ought to understand by now the need to separate her personal life from her responsibilities as an elected official serving the community.

Or, perhaps, it is her long tenure on the board that gives Gorski the false belief that she has the right to push others around, immune from the consequences of her actions.

There should be no tolerance from Groveland’s citizens for this kind of arrogance. Gorski must go.