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August 12, 2008 - 1:48pm

Daily News weighs in on Mall flap

posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, city council, mall.

Today's Opinion page in the Daily News has what you might call a running theme going. Everyone's favorite subject these days: the mall. Count them: two letters to the editor on the topic, plus the unequivocally titled editorial: End the mall brawl: Council should focus on solution, not insults.

Says the Daily News (quite accurately):

Mr. (Bob) Bialkowski should not vote on mall issues. The City Charter says Council members should not vote on issues where they might benefit "directly or indirectly." If nothing else, there is an appearance of conflict of interest.

Does that take Council off the hook for city obligations to the mall? No way. Every member of Council ought to be trying his or her utmost to resolve this issue without going to court. Neglecting a mall that is connected to the City Centre is foolish. Visitors see the City Centre/mall as one entity .... neglect in one area reflects on the entirety. The concourse ought to look as good as City Hall. All Council members should agree on that, instead of trading insults.

Well said. And all of those imperative ought to's ought not to be overlooked.

As for the two letters...

Much of what is included in the letter by Mitchell Chess can be found in his post to The Batavian yesterday. Not included in that post are Mitchell's comments about City Manager Jason Molino. He writes:

We have ... been continuously misled by the city. We have meetings and nothing ever happens. As a result of our frustrations with Mr. Molino, we requested the city to appoint an independent negotiator.

I would only ask that Mitchell provide us with some specific instances of how the mall was misled by the city, and what is the subject of negotiations.

In the other letter, Daniel Jones has at Bob Bialkowski, something we've heard quite a bit of already, and whether or not more of it is needed, just or desired, we will leave up to you. A suggestion for Daniel: try to steer clear of the discordancy. Calling Bialkowski out for his hyperbole, Daniel throws around more than his fair share, describing Bialkowski in such terms as: "completely ignoring any sense of ethics," "completely tarnished the image of the Genesee County Airport," "dangerous to city residents," "putting the city in serious financial and legal jeopardy," "his tirades," "complete disregard for ethics" (again), "truly embarassing for the city of Batavia."

Daniel Jones
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Hi Philip-Thanks for the plug. It may be tough to swallow, but the fact is that his continued presence and involvement in mall related issues has created a pretty big legal can of worms for the city, all that I'm pointing out is that.... 1. He's done this before with his battle over losing his airport contract in 1993, not that personal lives matter, but it was an issue that affected city/county residents in a negative way. 2. He works for them, his wife works for them, almost all people would agree that would constitute a conflict of interest, he shouldn't be voting on mall related issues. 3. Instead of taking responsibility for his mistakes (past and present) and agreeing to abstain (which would have settled a good portion of the dust from this whole fiasco) he's decided to turn around and attack another council member. Thats the kind of politics people are sick of. Thats all, its nothing personal against Mr. Bialkowski at all, nor am I saying that any of the other Council Members (or myself, or anyone) is perfect, I am saying though that the reality of this situation is going to harm City residents.
John Roach
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There has been a disturbing trend in the debate about the Mall. Some people are taking it out on Dr. M. Chess, the head of the Mall Merchants Association (MMA); Jason Molino, City Manager and Charlie Mallow, Council President. First, Dr. Chess. He was chosen by his peers to represent them. His job is to get the best deal for his group, not to be a door mat and just take what the City gives them. He fights hard, that’s one reason he was picked. He was also screwed by a past Council and has reason not to be too trusting in the City’s good intentions. Jason Molino. By law and by direction of Council, he is obligated to hold down cost and to run the City affectively and efficiently. The MMA wants things he does not believe they should have and he’s no door mat either. Charlie Mallow. He has not had anything to do with the negotiations between the City and the MMA. That is not his job and he has not been authorized by the rest of Council to do so. Two other Councilmen have interfered in this and Charlie only tried to correct that. Things spun out of control and people forgot the original dispute was Councilman Bob Bialkowski wanting to vote on Mall issues while his wife is an employee. To compound what many of us see as a conflict of interest, Bob did not disclose he was a paid part time employee of the Mall. On top of that, Bob has come out against other people for doing what he now says is ok for him. Then, Councilman Bill Cox suggested we taxpayers get involved in cleaning up bird crap on the Mall roof when we have a hard time funding Youth Football, buying boots for Firemen and keeping parks open. Let this thing go to court. That’s where it now belongs. After all this, the odds of a settlement are slim, and don’t forget who started it all (Bob and Bill).
Philip Anselmo
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Dan: Your points are made so much clearer when you get to the specifics as you do here. Good job. Thanks.

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