Two weeks have passed since the Cape Cod Times first revealed the "Suite Deal" scandal. The "Suite Deal" involved five members of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates who benefited from room upgrades at last year's convention of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. The five accepted room upgrades but may not have been told by the Assembly clerk that the upgrades involved extra charges to the County that came to about $2,000.
The Assembly clerk is reported to have told the Times' reporter that the rooms were on a "secure floor", which the reporter determined does not exist at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.
According to Barnstable County Administrator Jack Yunits, the five Assembly Delegates who benefited from the "Suite Deal" are:
In a March 11, 2018 editorial and subsequent articles Cape Cod Today has called upon the beneficiaries of the "Suite Deal" to reimburse Barnstable County for the cost of the room upgrade.
To be clear, none of the "Suite Deal Five" are accused of any legal or ethical breach. The County's reimbursement policy is an ill-devised creature in need up revision.
That said, the optics of the "Suite Deal" remain dismal at a time when Barnstable County is contemplating staff reductions to bring the budget under control after years of over-spending.
With county employees facing possible early retirements or outright layoffs, how can these Assembly Delegates face the employees or taxpayers?
Still worse, there is a perceived culture within the county government that it's perfectly okay to waste taxpayer money so long as one doesn't exceed one's allocated budget.
In a recent CCToday poll 85% of those responding felt the delegates should reimburse the county. In a poll published this week, 94% of those responding felt the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates is a poor steward of taxpayer money.
County Administrator Jack Yunits has not responded to a March 18, 2018 email in which we asked if any of the "Suite Deal Five" paid the county for their upgrade. Nor has any member of the Assembly responded to an email sent to the entire assembly last week.
The "Suite Deal" incident has done serious harm to the credibility of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates. We encourage the five Assembly members to do the decent thing: reimburse the county and ask the public's forgiveness.
What Can You Do?
If you're unhappy with the conduct of the "Suite Deal Five", here are a few ways you can express your dissatisfaction:
If you haven't voted already, please vote in our poll
See gallery of the "Suite Deal Five" below...