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September 9, 2013 - 7:55pm

Corfu trustees still trying to figure out if their mayor is on medical leave

posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Ralph Peterson.

A concern about spending taxpayer money has prompted the Village of Corfu Board to assign trustees Art Ianni and Keith Busch the task of contacting Mayor Ralph Peterson to find out if he intends to take a leave of absence.

Peterson did not attend Monday's village board meeting.

The village received a copy of a doctor's note Aug. 29 that said Peterson was advised to take a leave of absence through the end of the year, but Peterson has not communicated to the trustees or anybody else official whether he intends to follow the doctor's advice.

There's been no communication from him since.

"We need something signed by him," Bielec said.

Deputy Mayor David Bielec suggested the board have Village Attorney Mark Boylan contact Peterson to clarify the leave of absence situation and reiterate the board's request that Peterson resign from his post.

Ianni asked if he could just contact the mayor himself.

"If you think you can make headway, go ahead," Bielec said.

Busch said rather than spend money on an attorney, both he and Ianni should contact Peterson, he said.

"We don't want to spend too much taxpayer money," Busch said.

He took the same stand on the notion of filing a petition to the Supreme Court to have Peterson removed.

"The court procedure, from what I understand, is very expensive," Busch said.

Bielec said Boylan told him it only has a 50-50 chance of succeeding.

Peterson has been under fire throughout the first year of his first term, being accused of lying to the board, harassing employees, exercising authority he doesn't have and trying to cover up for his friend Robert Alexander. Alexander is a former village justice. His daughter, Brandi Watts, was indicted on grand larceny charges for allegedly stealing more than $10,000 in court funds while working as a clerk for Alexander.

Peterson would continue to draw, by law, his mayoral stipend, while on medical leave. Trustee Ken Laurer said he continues to work at his day job.

Peterson is reportedly suffering from medical issues related to stress. He was reportedly hospitalized for a time prior to trustees receiving his doctor's note.

For prior Ralph Peterson coverage, click here.

Laura Russell Ricci
Laura Russell Ricci's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Jul 1 2008 - 12:05pm

I feel so bad for the people of Corfu and anyone impacted by this nonsense...although IMO I think this would make for a great sitcom.

Al Graham
Al Graham's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Apr 9 2013 - 4:22pm

Just a little correction Howard. The doctor note said for him to take off til 1/2/14. That's 4months off from being Mayor but he continues to go to his regular job.

Gale Conn-Wright
Gale Conn-Wright's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: Jun 28 2009 - 7:30pm

Sounds like it would be cheaper and easier on the people if he just continues to draw his stipend and stops his stressful mayoral activities as per doctor's advice.... Unfortunately, whatever happens, he's got them between a rock and a hard place.

John Roach
John Roach's picture
Last seen: 1 week 23 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Laura, if you can write the script, you'll make a fortune on this.

John Woodworth JR
John Woodworth JR's picture
Last seen: 4 years 6 hours ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 11:13am

It is amazing that, this nonsense continues. Is there a way to hold a meeting with the residences of Corfu and allow them to remove Peterson as their mayor? After all, he works for the people and judging from his actions, is not performing his duties well. He is stressed with being Mayor of a small town? Sounds like he should stay out of politics since, he can't handle it. It sounds like he is stressed because, he has been exposed to some corruption. He really needs to man up and be the bigger person and just resign. EGO what a trip.

John Roach
John Roach's picture
Last seen: 1 week 23 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

John, No, there is no recall in New York. The only thing you can do is try to convince a State Court to remove him. And that is a hard sell since he was elected by a majority

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Last seen: 2 days 9 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

John, our coverage has already covered that what you suggest can't happen. The only way to remove an elected official at that level is through the Supreme Court.

Lori Silvernail
Lori Silvernail's picture
Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: Oct 22 2009 - 4:59pm

From N.Y. VIL. LAW § 4-400 : NY Code - Section 4-400: Mayor (found at http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/VIL/4/4-400)
2. If the mayor and deputy mayor are both absent or unable to perform the duties of the office, the trustees shall appoint one of their number to act as deputy mayor during the absence or inability of the mayor and deputy mayor appointed by him.

Is there a Deputy Mayor in Corfu? If not, and he is found unable to perform his duties (you know, because he is so stressed and all), does the above apply?

Doug Yeomans
Doug Yeomans's picture
Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
Joined: Feb 13 2009 - 8:28am

Lori, nice find, and sounds right to me. If a community elects an official, they should be able to get rid of him/her, too.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Last seen: 2 days 9 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

That covers temporary situations at meetings.

Raymond Richardson
Raymond Richardson's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: Aug 18 2012 - 9:23am


From the article: "Deputy Mayor David Bielec suggested the board have Village Attorney Mark Boylan contact Peterson ..."

As Howard stated, that statute you C&Ped only covers individual meetings, not the position as a whole.

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