Recently Donn Esmonde wrote a piece reagrding “upsizing” in the October 19, 2012 edition of The Buffalo News.
The Buffalo News interestingly enough requires that “Letters must be fact-checked. If the editors cannot verify that the material presented as fact in the letter is accurate, the letter cannot be printed.” ( http://corp.buffalonews.com/services/contact/guidelines.asp ). Apparently they do not require this of their own staff editorialists that they continue to run in the local section to be confused with factual journalism rather than on the opinion page where editorials truly belong.
I say this because there is a number of factual inaccuracies in this piece that should not have escaped basic fact-checking.
First, there was no lawsuit to stop the vote on downsizing. Quite the contrary there was a lawsuit to have the petition submitted deemed valid after the Erie County Board of Elections ruled that it was invalid based on my objection. The Petitioner was Dennis Mavromatis who was represented by Kevin Gaughan and Timothy LoVallo. (The petition can be viewed here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/109928594/Mavromatis-v-West-Seneca ). The Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed the Board of Elections decision. (The decision is available here: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/ad4/Clerk/Decisions/2008/10-28-08/1383.1.pdf ). I am the one that objected to the petition submitted because it was misleading and did not accurately state what was going to be voted on. I have never ran for any public office. I have no immediate or extended family working for the Town of West Seneca nor am I seeking employment with the Town. I also have no intention to run for any public office. I have never requested anything from anyone in exchange for any action I chose to take or not take. This is in stark contrast to Mr. Gaughan who is a fairly regular candidate seeking one office or another including his latest bid for State Assembly (and appears to be Mr. Esmonde’s drinking buddy from what I am hearing from others).
Second, Mr. Gaughan sought to have the “downsizing” issue put on the ballot in the absence of any petition, much less than one that fell short based on timeframe rather than the number of signers. In an article published in the Buffalo News on August 4, 2008 entitled “Petition supported for vote on downsizing” by Samantha Christmann it was reported: “About 14 volunteers hit the streets last week, collecting more than 400 of the 1,400 signatures needed to let West Seneca residents vote whether to reduce their five-person Town Board by two members. The idea to shrink the board was proposed by Town Supervisor Wallace Piotrowski at last Monday night’s meeting at civic activist Kevin Gaughan’s suggestion. Board members voted against the resolution.” This is born out by the minutes of the West Seneca Town Board meeting for July 28, 2008 (available at: http://westseneca.net/bdmin08/mi080728.html ).
In the case of the current petition to put this issue on the ballot at least we had signed petitions to show the board of how credible our effort was and the imminence of it being filed with the requisite number of signatures to require putting this issue on the ballot. I was the one who requested that the Town Board consider exercising their discretion to place this issue on the ballot in order to save the taxpayers the expense of a special election and to insure that the maximum number of West Seneca citizen’s express their will on this important issue regarding our governance. It is very easy to get the “special interest” groups out on a special election which I believe happened in 2009. This vote on a general election will truly represent the will of the people.
Finally, in this piece by Mr. Esmonde wrote: “Gaughan said the cumulative downsizing saved taxpayers $5.2 million in jettisoned political salaries, benefits and pensions.” I would really like to see the actual data that was used to come up with this number. In the past I have challenged his “figures” and his math and logic are at best suspect (See: http://www.speakupwny.com/article_3836.shtml ). Since the past 3 budgets in West Seneca were proposed by our former supervisor Mr. Piotrowski, a Gaughan supporter, and using Mr. Gaughan’s numbers shouldn’t we see this savings in these budgets? I would like the savings to be pointed out since I simply do not see any.
What I have see is a person getting paid for a non-existent position that perhaps would have been caught sooner with a 5 member board (See: http://www.speakupwny.com/forums/showthread.php?t=173225 ). A similar situation with out of title pay (see: http://www.speakupwny.com/forums/showthread.php?t=135732&s=989ade21aa351d51cb22526d622ec818 ).
What has kept our taxes from going up at a proportional rate to these losses is the consolidation of the Receiver of Taxes in with the Town Clerk’s Office and the recent abolition of the Comptroller’s office which transferred those functions to the Town Board and Town Clerk’s offices.
Downsizing has not saved taxpayers money, it has caused more of it to be wasted diminishing the savings other measures provided us with.