Corfu trustees demand mayor's resignation or they will seek his ouster
Corfu Mayor Ralph Peterson is going to receive a letter from the village attorney demanding his resignation.
If he doesn't resign, Mark Boylan, village attorney, is instructed to contact the appellate division of the NYS Supreme Court to begin the process of trying to remove Peterson from office.
Corfu's trustees voted 3-1, with Peterson supplying the no vote and Trustee Keith Busch absent, to take steps to remove Peterson from office.
While there's a long string of complaints that trustees and village residents have about Peterson, the latest alleged action that has angered trustees is an alleged admission by Peterson that he withheld an important letter from the village because he wanted to see a lawsuit against the village proceed.
This allegation came out after a closed session where trustees -- without Peterson, who was barred from the closed session -- discussed their options in the wake of recent events involving the lawsuit, village personnel and an alleged threat made by former village justice Robert Alexander.
Corfu trustees held an emergency board meeting on these topics this evening.
After Boylan raised the allegation that Peterson withheld the letter to perpetuate the lawsuit, Peterson denied it.
Trustee Ken Lauer said, "Oh, you have a different story to tell?"
"Yes, I have a different story to tell," Peterson said.
As Peterson started to speak, Lauer repositioned a microphone from a television news station to point at Peterson and Peterson paused and then said, "I've been advised by counsel not to make any statements."
As soon as the meeting adjourned, Peterson walked out of the building without speaking to anybody.
In May, Peterson reportedly received a letter from Andrew Fleming, the attorney representing a group of part-time village police officers who claimed they were illegally deprived work hours. The letter was an offer to settle a potential lawsuit before it reached that stage.
Trustees only learned of the letter Monday when Fleming showed up at the village board meeting.
Peterson allegedly made a statement in closed session that night that he wanted to see the lawsuit filed, so he allegedly withheld the letter from the other trustees.
Also stirring the pot for trustees was a letter Peterson reportedly sent out Aug. 8 (PDF) asserting his power as mayor to run the village. He threatened legal action against any trustee, or the board as a whole, if attempts were made to usurp his power.
This evening, the trustees also voted 3-1 on a motion instructing Boylan to send a letter to Peterson barring him from contact with village office staff over concern that Peterson's continued contact with staff will lead to a harassment lawsuit.
The other motion passed Thursday was one instructing Boylan to send a letter to Robert Alexander barring him from village property.
Last night the Town of Pembroke board instructed Boylan, who also represents the town, to send a letter to Alexander barring him from town property.
According to witnesses, at Monday's village meeting, Alexander allegedly threatened to break the neck of a Town of Pembroke board member.
State Police confirm receiving a report of an alleged incident involving Alexander, but decline to disclose any further information pending completion of an investigation.
Two residents spoke at Thursday's village meeting. Charlie Lenhard, who identified himself as a longtime friend of Peterson's, told Peterson it's time for him to resign. Drew Doll said that as a 60-year resident of the village, he's embarrassed by what the village has become. The problems started, he said, long before any of the current trustees were on the board. It's time, he said, to dissolve the village.
"Drew Doll said that as a 60-year resident of the village, he embarrassed by what the village has become. The problems started, he said, long before any of the current trustees were on the board. It's time, he said, to dissolve the village." I don't know Drew Doll, but I wanna buy him a beer! Too many layers of local government creates dysfunction, we need to streamline New York.
This level of disfunction is the norm at the state and federal levels. We just rarely get to see how it looks in the raw. At least at the local level the citizen has a chance to make a stand on the issues.
Big Government and Big Business are BOTH BAD. For all the same reasons.
Way to go Drew Doll, what a great idea. Thinking outside the box!