Tonawanda News

Opinion

September 14, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Council ignored public on Vets Park plan

Tonawanda News — The ongoing saga of whether or not 16-plus acres of Veterans Park in the City of Tonawanda becomes a high-end housing development is no longer a battle of parkland versus development, it is a battle between intransigent city officials and the public. It is a fight between people who question whether or not the city is doing what is right and city leaders who scoff at those who dare question them.

At a recent Common Council meeting, for example, a resident asked about filling the seat left vacant by the departure of Heather Little. Council president Carl Zeisz said the council has no plan to replace her. He was quoted in the Tonawanda News as saying: “There is no appropriate way to choose who would replace her.”

Apparently the council president hasn’t read the city charter, which states: “Vacancies occurring in any elective office shall be filled by the common council at its next regular meeting, where practicable, after creation of the vacancy. The person appointed to fill the vacancy shall hold office pursuant to New York state law. In the case of a tie vote to fill a common council vacancy, the mayor shall cast the deciding vote.”

To me, that reads like a pretty specific way to replace Ms. Little. As the council knew this was coming the action should have taken place immediately. Now for one-quarter of a term, a portion of the city is without representation. If the council votes on the Veterans Park development in the near future, it will be done with one vacant seat and two lame ducks — Councilmen Tyler Kossow and Blake Boyle.

The City Charter apparently isn’t on the reading list of the council. The City Charter Sec. 2-181 states: “All goods and services will be secured by the use of written requests for proposals, written quotations, verbal quotations or any other method that ensures that goods will be purchased at the lowest price and that favoritism will be avoided ...” 

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