An ethics complaint against a Rochester City Council member was quickly dismissed Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s not something we discuss here or we have purview over,” Rochester Ethical Practices Board member Peter Amadio said of the complaint.
Rochester resident Sara Hylwa filed the complaint following a Sept. 17 interaction with council member Michael Wojcik. She alleged he lacked professionalism during a discussion of a developer’s plans to divide a property at 912 Eighth St. SW.
Wojcik, in a written response, said he remained calm during the discussion, but alleged Hylwa was “passionate with her questions” and “insinuated that I was somehow corrupting a planning process.”
He also raised questions about whether the complaint was coordinated by supporters of his opponent in the upcoming city council election, Mark Bransford, pointing to the fact that the complaint was discussed online and sent to the Post Bulletin before being reviewed by the city board.
Hylwa and Bransford have denied any coordination in the effort, and they said they hadn’t met until after the Sept. 17 incident,
Ultimately, Wojcik said he applied no pressure to end any inquiries into the process and added that the city’s ethics code does not define or cover “professionalism” so no violation exists.
Amadio, who lives in Hylwa’s neighborhood, agreed, pointing out the city’s ethics code addresses conflicts of interest for city staff, board members and elected officials, leaving questions of personal conduct of council members to be addressed by the council.
Rochester City Attorney Jason Loos said he saw no legal allegation of conflict of interest in Hylwa’s complaint, but added it appeared to allege a potential conflict could emerge if Wojcik were asked to vote on the land issue after stating an opinion.
However, he said the issue Hylwa and Wojcik discussed would never be decided by the city council. If the city staff’s decision on the land division is appealed, it will be reviewed by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission or the district court.
“There’s no way this matter will ever come before the city council,” Loos said.
In his response, Wojcik said it would be a conflict if he intervened on the issue.
“If myself or any other council member would have lobbied staff to not follow the prescribed process for a Type I Lot Subdivision, that would be a potential ethical violation,” he said, “This is what some neighbors wanted done. I instead used my role to gather facts and distribute them.”
The Ethical Practices Board was unanimous in its response to dismiss the complaint.