What kind of \u201cpersonal interest\u201d should keep an elected official out of discussions and voting on an issue? Should attorneys who work locally really be barred from serving on boards unrelated to their law practices? After easing a revised ethics code out of the Charter Revision Commission\u2019s proposed changes this summer with a promise to update ethics standards through changes to town ordinances, the selectmen got started by reviewed concerns that had left them reluctant to simply approve the charter commission\u2019s work. \u201cWe want people to be ethical, and we want ethical boards,\u201d said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark. At the end of a discussion at their Sept. 26 meeting, the selectmen reached a consensus to re-read the Charter Revision Commission\u2019s draft, think about how it could be improved, and try to hash out something that could be sent to the town attorneys for shaping into legal language. The goal is a proposed town ethics ordinance that could be put before voters at a town meeting. A series of charter revision proposals \u2014 not including a revised ethics code \u2014 will be on the ballot put before voters in the November election. The selectmen\u2019s initial problems with the charter commission ethics rewrite seemed a mix of substance and form, aggravated by time \u2014 the length and complexity of the charter commission\u2019s work, and the little time the selectmen had, back in the summer, to consider it. Their Sept. 26 discussion included a quick review of some concerns they\u2019d had. \u201cIt was a challenge ... in the format we received it,\u201d said Selectman Steve Zemo. \u201cIt was written by the Charter Revision Commission, not the ethics [board],\u201d he added. First Selectman Rudy Marconi qualified Zemo\u2019s observation, saying Board of Ethics Chairman Bart Van de Weghe had played a significant role in the rewrite. \u201cBart was an active participant,\u201d Marconi said. \u201cHe was there through all the meetings.\u201d The selectman had previously wondered why the charter commission had written virtually an entirely new ethics code, rather than simply giving the old one a tune-up. But Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark recalled some strengths in the charter commission\u2019s new code. \u201cIt had a little more teeth. It has a little more definition,\u201d she said. \u2018Personal interest\u2019 Selectwoman Barbara Manners wasn\u2019t at the meeting, but Marconi recalled a concern she\u2019d previously raised about limits on officials participating in decisions where they had a \u201cpersonal interest.\u201d The thought was that this needed to be carefully defined. What kind of \u201cpersonal interest\u201d should keep an official from discussing something, or voting on a budget that included money for it. \u201cShe\u2019s very involved with the Women\u2019s Center,\u201d Marconi said, by way of example. \u201cI serve on the board of Founders Hall.\u201d Both those organizations get money in the \u201ccommunity grants\u201d portion of the town budget. Does that mean the selectmen should abstain from working on the budget? People with kids in school serve on the Board of Education and approve its budget. Another issue that had been raised in the summer was a provision saying attorneys serving on town boards or commissions shouldn\u2019t represent clients before town agencies. There\u2019d been concerns \u2014 including among charter commission members \u2014 that attorneys who worked locally would stop offering themselves for town service because it might jeopardize their ability to represent clients. It was noted that at least one member of the Charter Revision Commission was a partner in a law firm based in town that might occasionally work for local clients that have business with the town. Would that compromise the attorney\u2019s participation in revising the charter? And, volunteers willing to work on town boards \u2014 or run for office \u2014 are hard to come by. \u201cPeople like having attorneys on their board,\u201d Kozlark said, \u201cbecause they bring that legal knowledge.\u201d Not forgotten While reviewing concerns, the selectmen wanted to honor their commitment to improving the town\u2019s ethics standards by means other than adopted the Charter Revision Commission rather lengthy draft. They didn\u2019t want to forget their commitment. But they didn\u2019t have a sense of how to get going on the task. \u201cHow about if we all take some time to read it?\u201d Marconi said. \u201cMaybe we can come up with some layman\u2019s language that would convey the spirit, and give it to Dave Groggins,\u201d said Selectman Bob Hebert, referring to the town attorney. Marconi said another lawyer in the town attorney\u2019s law firm serves on the Board of Selectmen in nearby Connecticut town \u2014 that perspective might be helpful. The selectmen agreed they\u2019d do some homework, and launch an effort to come up with a proposed ethics ordinance that could be presented to voters at a town meeting. \u201cWe will not let it sunset!\u201d said Kozlark.