Village of Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena is seeking to amend the village’s code of ethics following the Sept. 15 election. According to Avena, the village received information that one of the candidates running for a position on the Manorhaven Board of Trustees, Walter Peters has an arrest record including a felony conviction.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, in 2003, Peters was convicted of child abuse-injury and neglect. The Florida Department Corrections Offender Network database states that Peters was sentenced to three years in prison for those charges and was released in 2006.
“The Florida Corrections report includes a photograph and date of birth that in my opinion appears to be the same Walter Peters that recently ran for Trustee,” Avena said. “Peters is welcome to prove to me that it is not the same person if he disagrees.”
During the Oct. 15 Village of Manorhaven work session, Mayor Avena read aloud a statement regarding the proposed changes to the code of ethics.
“The Village Board of Trustees will be consulting with our ethics counsel, Steven Leventhal, Esq., to develop certain changes to the Village’s ethics law and code of conduct,” Avena said. “We need more stringent disclosure requirements in order to increase transparency in Village government. Specifically, we are looking at changing the Village Code by local law in order to ensure that no person convicted of a felony shall be eligible to hold Village office.
We should have a disclosure requirement that applies to Village elected officials and candidates to make certain that convicted felons are not holding or running for Village office without the public being aware of their records. Similarly, we should amend our code and our policy to make sure that criminal background checks are conducted on any person before they are appointed to any public board in the Village.”
Avena stated that other municipalities, including the Town of Hempstead as well as Nassau County already have similar provisions in their codes to prevent convicted felons from being taking office.
“I was shocked when I learned about Mr. Peters’ arrest record,” Avena said in a statement to the Port Washington News. “Amending our ethics code will ensure that future Village candidates cannot run for election or be appointed to a Manorhaven Village Board if they have been convicted of a felony.”
The Village of Manorhaven Board of Trustees will be crafting an amendment to the code of ethics. A public hearing will be held on the proposed changes. The next board of trustees meeting is scheduled for Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.