In a small community like Shelter Island, it’s impossible to avoid all potential conflicts of interest, so typically members of various boards recuse themselves from voting on issues where they have a personal interest.
The latest incidence of a potential conflict brought to the Reporter’s attention was the appointment of Kathleen Minder as school district business manager while her husband, Dr. Stephen Gessner, serves as Board of Education president.
When Ms. Minder was appointed as a part-time clerk in the school’s business office in March 2012, Dr. Gessner was absent from the meeting. He was also absent in December 2012, when Ms. Minder was appointed to the BOE business manager’s post.
In July 2013, when Ms. Minder was appointed to the audit committee, Dr. Gessner recused himself from the vote.
“I am very conscientious about the potential conflicts of interest that exist on the Board,” Dr. Gessner said in an email response to a question about her appointments. “We have always worked closely with our lawyers and auditors to make sure we are carefully following the guidelines,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Hynes confirmed the absences and noted that Ms. Minder passed the required Civil Service Exam required for the appointment, noting her score was the highest of all candidates who sought the business manager’s appointment.
He confirmed that board members and those who work with Ms. Minder are all aware of the relationship.