Americana: Mar. 21, 1983

Government Family Plan

Cuttyhunk Island (pop. 46) is a hilly, isolated spit of land off Massachusetts. Naturally, the sense of community is strong. "Everybody's involved," says A.P. Tilton. He should know. Tilton was town auditor for a decade, and has been a water commissioner and a selectman since 1961. Indeed, every resident either works for town hall or is related to somebody who does. Under such circumstances, getting a sewer pipe fixed or a pothole filled should be no problem.

But it is. A 1962 Massachusetts conflict-of-interest statute forbids awarding any municipal contract to a relative of a government employee. Violations are punishable...

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