In a letter to the editor in today's Daily News, City Councilman Bob Bialkowski urges Council President Charlie Mallow to resign. He writes:
Mr. Mallow has been demonstrating some unusual behavior lately. At our last meeting he would not allow any new business to be brought to the floor. He blocked several of us by asking for a motion to adjourn, moving to adjourn and then adjourning the meeting. He executed the entire sequence by himself, which violates all rules of conducting a meeting. Mr. Mallow should resign as council president because he has failed miserably as a leader. A good leader does not use the press to criticize and ridicule memers of his assembly.
The Batavian has requested a response from Mallow. We've included it in full below.
The skirmish between Mallow and Bialkowski has been going on for weeks now, reaching a fevered pitch at the last meeting of the City Council when Mallow asked for Bialkowski to recuse him from voting on the purchase of a sign by the city for the mall. Within days of the meeting, the city attorney, George Van Nest, drafted a letter requesting the city's Board of Ethics to convene and consider whether a "councilman" exhibited a conflict of interest in voting on the purchase of a mall sign as his "wife" is manager of the mall. Van Nest never returned calls made by The Batavian.
Mallow, in his turn, authored a pair of letters to the editor that appeared in the August 2 and August 5 issues of the Daily News. In the first, Mallow writes:
Mr. Bialkowski and Bill Cox are new on Council, very new. They believe they can coerce the rest of the Council into bending to the wishes of the (Mall Merchants Association). They have also shown me deep seated hatred for our city manager and city attorney. I'm not prepared to allow him to take political retribution out on our city staff. Enough is Enough!
Obviously, both Mallow and Bialkowski—despite the latter's own claims that he "detests conducting the business of the citizens by writing letters to the editor"—are fond of hyperbole. While the mall merchants have threatened the city with litigation, there is no "pending case" with the group, as Mallow asserts in his first letter. Van Nest said so at the last meeting of the council. And while Bialkowski may not be in a direct conflict of interest regarding the vote for the city to purchase the sign for the mall, his wife is the manager of the mall, and he would exhibit a sense of good behavior, if nothing else, if he just gave in and recused himself.
instead, both Mallow and Bialkowski—both grandstanding, both citing his moral superiority—turn city business into vehement personal attacks. I have to feel bad for Bill Cox who got dragged into the mess just because he wanted the city to look at a potential health hazard. While I can understand the exasperation of both Mallow and Bialkowski, I just can't understand why they opt to play out this farce in these terms: this one accusing that one of despotism, that one accusing this one of hatred. Hatred!? What is this? And I don't even want to hear any of these "Well, he started it" arguments, which amount to nothing more than further propagating the feud by couching it in terms of cause and effect, action and reaction, and villifying one term to the favor of the other.
Lately some of us councilmen have received e-mails from Mr. Mallow in which he is very sarcastic, calls us names and as of late has used foul and abusive language.
As of late Mr. Cox. has ... developed a strong interest in bird droppings on the roof of the mall. So much so, that he wrote a long rambling letter to the paper about this issue and how he believes he is being treated unfairly.
Why should Cox's letter be demeaned this way? Isn't that, in fact, treating him unfairly? Why can't he voice his opinion—no matter how much others feel it may not be relevant—without being cut down by his peers?
The following is Mallow's response, in full, to Bialkowski's letter:
I don’t give much weight to the things Bob Biakowski says. He wants to run roughshod over our city manger and attorney and expects me to stand aside while he intimidates them. Bob has an agenda that doesn’t include working for the taxpayers of this city. I am deeply embarrassed that Bob Biakowski was the first sitting city council person to have an ethics body called to discuss his actions. Bob is going about his short term on council in an unhealthily way that limits his effectiveness. His actions have turned most of council against him and he is acting out in an unprofessional way. I have 1 ½ years left on council and I’m going to spend that time watching Bob and his friends very closely. Bob and Bill Cox are both trying to bring a little taste of Albany politics to Batavia. We are a small city and have a non partisan government lead by a city manager. I’m sorry that things are not going Bob’s way and he feels he needs to have a temper tantrum to bring light to his problems.
For more background on these issues, check out some of our earlier posts: