Undisclosed potential conflicts of interest of Vermont Labor Relations Board Chair revealed. Grounds for mistrial?

The Vermont Labor Relations Board, from left, Gary Karnedy, Chairman Richard Park and James Kiehle. Richard Park is the corproate secretary of Northeast Delta Dental of Vermont and trustee. One of the firm’s largest clients is UVM. VTD/Josh Larkin

Today it was brought to my attention by New York-based investigative journalist, Mark Cook, that the chair of the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB) had failed to publicly disclose to the Executive Director of the VLRB that he is a trustee and the corporate secretary of Delta Dental of Vermont (DDV). In a phone call today to the VLRB’s Executive Director, Tim Noonan, Cook asked Noonan to confirm if Park was a trustee and the corporate secretary of the well-connected DDV. ¬†According to Cook, Noonan stated he did not know, when asked by Cook. After contacting Park, however, Noonan then confirmed to Cook that Park was indeed a trustee and the corporate secretary of DDV.

Park led the panel that heard my grievance against the University of Vermont (UVM), and he decided against me, along with the other panel members, which I am appealing to Vermont’s Supreme Court.

My research into DDV has revealed that one of DDV’s largest clients is the University of Vermont. My grievance for wrongful denial of reappointment was against UVM, which hired a well-known ‘shark’ attorney to defend UVM against my claim. Therefore, Mr. Park led a hearing and decided on a grievance that would impact one of the largest clients of the company he is a trustee of, and its corporate secretary. Yet this was never disclosed to me beforehand,¬†nor to the executive director of the VLRB.

Further research has revealed that other DDV trustees and officers have direct and indirect ties to UVM’s Grossman School of Business, a unit at UVM I have written critically of related to its links to Wall Street money flowing into UVM. And Mr. Park himself is a graduate of the Grossman School of Business, thus an alumus of UVM.

Had I been aware of the DDV affiliations of Mr. Park I would have requested that he recuse himself from leading the hearing of my grievance against his alma-mater and an institution from which DDV makes a lot of money. The information was not included in his bio at the VLRB website. I believe this is grounds for a mistrial, and I may request, as is my right, to have the hearing re-heard — without Mr. Park. More on this in a press release tonight. ~JS