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Batavia City Council set to vote on appointment of Republican Tammy Schmidt as Sixth Ward representative

By Mike Pettinella

Updated, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. with comments from Schmidt:

The City of Batavia has drafted a resolution appointing Tammy Schmidt as city council’s new Sixth Ward representative, replacing Rose Mary Christian, who resigned on Nov. 15.

The matter is the only item on the agenda of a Special Business Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, prior to the governing body’s Conference Meeting and Regular Business Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room.

According to the resolution, Section 3.3 of the City Charter provides that when a position of Council Member becomes vacant, pending the election and qualification of a Council Member to fill the vacancy, the council shall fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment of a qualified person, who shall be the same political affiliation as the Council Member whose place has become vacant.

Schmidt is a Republican, as is Christian, who switched from the Democratic Party sometime after she was elected to her eighth -- and final -- term.

When Christian announced her retirement, it triggered a back-and-forth among the City Republican and Democrat committees as well as current City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. and Batavia resident John Roach, who was part of the City Charter Commission.

Republicans contend that the Charter wording clearly indicates that a Republican should fill the seat, while Democrats were looking for a legal ruling in light of Christian changing affiliations. That, apparently, did not happen.


City Republican Chair Rich Richmond today said the “Charter is very clear – the appointment will be made by the Republican Party; a Republican will take that position.”

Richmond said he is going with what the Charter actually states “and not on what if, or how come or whatever?”

He added that Democrats have made this a political issue.

“There is nothing political about it. When they did the Charter, it was a bipartisan commission, including Republicans, Democrats and Conservatives. Nobody had a problem with it until it has come up now,” he offered.

Schmidt, a lifelong Batavian who grew up as Tammy Trigilio, has been employed for the past seven years as the financial management assistant for Genesee Justice and the Child Advocacy Center.

Prior to that, she worked for Genesee County Mental Health and Genesee County Workforce Investment. She and her husband, Mark, live on Osterhout Avenue. They have a daughter and son-in-law, Kristina and Tony Ferrando, and two grandchildren.

Richmond said he is impressed with Schmidt's credentials.

"Tammy has an excellent resume and is very intelligent and well-informed," he said. "I'm sure she will do a great job."


Contacted Saturday morning, Schmidt said that she has been part of the political workings in the city for quite some time and is looking forward to applying her experience -- and her love for her hometown -- "to help make it grow and prosper and be a great place for our kids and grandkids to want to stick around."

She currently is the Republican Committee Sixth Ward chair and previously served in that capacity for the Fifth Ward. Both her and her husband have been on the committee for several years and she said she is committed to learning more about city government.

"We're invested in this community," she said, adding that they own three rental properties in the Sixth Ward. "I don't want to use the tagline that Batavia Downs (Gaming) uses when they say, Dine, Stay and Play, but we live, work and play in Batavia."

When asked about replacing Christian, who served for 29-plus years, Schmidt said she has "big shoes to fill."

"Actually, I have had several conversations with Rose Mary, and she was very generous in giving me her endorsement," she said."And I still told her I plan to pick her brain. You can't beat that type of experience.

"Rose Mary was very vocal and she advocated for people to speak their minds. To me, if you want to incoporate any change, you need to be active and involved. You can't just sit home. Things aren't going to happen that way."

Previously: Will it be a Republican or a Democrat stepping in to replace Christian as Sixth Ward representative?

City Democrats disturbed by lack of response in regard to process of replacing Council member Christian

By Press Release

Press release from City of Batavia Democratic Committee:

We, the City of Batavia Democratic Committee, are disappointed with the City’s lack of leadership in this transition period of replacing prior City Councilperson Rose Mary Christian’s 6th Ward seat. Efforts by our Committee, as well as others, to contact the City Attorney - who is paid by our tax dollars - have resulted in being ignored on this matter, and the City Manager has not been direct, either.

We are disappointed in the City of Batavia Republican Committee for moving forward in this process without the City attorney being clear on the direction the Charter says. There is no time frame stated of when the Councilperon’s political party is checked in relation to this. A political party moving forward in a situation as gray as this one is atrocious to our system and an abuse of political power.

We urge the City attorney to do his job and take action to explain the legal interpretation of the Charter, and to provide a prior case of this situation occurring, as well as the precedent set by that instance. We want the Charter to be followed by all to ensure fairness rather than one political party choosing what happens. 

Will it be a Republican or a Democrat stepping in to replace Christian as Sixth Ward representative?

By Mike Pettinella


With Rose Mary Christian stepping down after a nearly 30-year career as a member of the Batavia City Council, the question becomes, “Who is going to replace her, even if it’s on a temporary basis?”

Speaking by telephone following tonight’s City Council Business Meeting, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. believes that Chapter 3, Section 3 of the City Charter is clear: Christian’s seat should be filled by a Republican who lives in the Sixth Ward (southeast portion of the city).

Batavia resident John Roach, however, in a memo dated Nov. 5 to City Clerk Heidi Parker – and obtained by The Batavian – said he believes that the person should be a registered Democrat. Roach was involved in the drafting of the City Charter several years ago.

A call to City Republican Party Chair Rick Richmond was not returned by the time of the posting of this story.

The reason for the difference in opinion is because Christian was a Democrat when elected to her most recent term and then changed her affiliation to a Republican.

For the record, the City Charter reads as follows:

“Pending such election and qualification of a Council member to fill a vacancy, Council shall fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment of a qualified person who shall be of the same political affiliation as the Council member whose place has become vacant and, if he or she was a ward Council member, a resident of the same ward.”

Jankowski emphasizes the part where it states “of the same political affiliation …” as the basis for his belief that a Republican is next in line.

“And that's pretty specific,” he said. “It tells me, what are you now and your seat just became vacant. It doesn't say what you were five years ago when you ran one time? It doesn't say anything like that. It doesn't say the party of which you are elected under. She has been a Republican for the majority of her recent term.”

Roach’s memo indicates that “the intent of the Charter was that the affiliation at the time of taking office should be the one to make the temporary appointment, and that would be the Democrat Party. Unless there is a NY State law that states differently, I think the intention of the voters two years ago should prevail.”

That’s just a citizen interpreting the Charter, Jankowski said, “but he (Roach) has no authority to interpret the charter to do anything about it.”

“He's just an outside observer who once worked on the commission that says he thinks this is what the intent was,” Jankowski added. “But that doesn't say that. Our marching orders are pretty specific. It says replace them from the party of which they were when they left. It's pretty specific. It doesn't talk about in the beginning of their term; it talks about what they are today when they resigned.”

Most likely, this issue will be the topic of debate in the near future as Christian said she hopes to relocate this week, making tonight’s meeting her last. City officials previously announced that a farewell party for her will take place from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Nov. 22 at the City Hall Council Board Room.

When it comes to Christian’s contributions to city government, Jankowski said he admired her tenacity despite not always seeing eye-to-eye on the issues.

“She'll be missed. I mean, she's a big advocate,” he said. “She's my ward councilperson … and she’ll be missed by the Sixth Ward. She's been a fighter for our ward for as long as I could remember.  And she's always done her best to represent the public and to, you know, do her best on Council. So, she'll be sorely missed.”

When asked if he was going to miss the times when they butted heads during the meetings, Jankowski said, “I will, because I like a spirited debate.”

“I think it's a good thing if people disagree and respectfully hash it out. I don't have a problem with that part of the process. I welcome that.”

Pressed about the fact that he has had to rebuke her at certain times, Jankowski said it was his job to keep the meeting moving in the right direction.

“Sometimes things get off track and you've got to bring it back. I understand and I respect her opinions, but if it’s not appropriate at the time, and if it's not on the agenda, I mean, we’ve got to move forward. We can only go so far. We've got to come back to the meeting.”

Photo: Rose Mary Christian, right, speaks with Assistant City Manager Jill Wiedrick, left, and Council member Kathleen Briggs prior to tonight's City Council Special Conference meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Batavia Daily News for Tuesday: Charter Review Commission learns as it goes

By Philip Anselmo

From the sound of the article in today's Daily News about last night's meeting of the Charter Review Commission, that group doesn't know a whole lot about its government. Here we have a group of city residents come together to review the document that forms the backbone of city goverment, and Joanne Beck writes that "no one" even knows the responsibilities of the city clerk/treasurer. One member, John Deleo, wanted to scrap the position of assistant city manager before he even knew what it entailed. That same member admits flat out: "We're shifting a lot of responsibilties with the stroke of a pen without understanding what everyone does."

Wait a second... What!? Why would anyone who doesn't know what government staffers do be charged with the responsibility of deciding whether or not they should contintue to do it?

At the very least, shouldn't members of such a commission be trained and educated before they begin their deliberations rather than trying to get them up to speed during the proceedings? John Roach heads up the commission, and I know he's a frequent contributor to the site, so I'm hoping he'll come on here and clarify a few of these points for us.

Another question for John: Beck writes that Councilmen Sam Barone and Bob Bialkowski have asked the commission to "consider how much responsibility council has over department heads ... and giving council the power versus city manager." Have those issues come up yet? What does the commission think?

While we're at it: What about going back to a strong mayoral form of city government?

County Manager Jay Gsell told the Daily News that "it will be an "extremely difficult" task to keep the tax rate at or below" its current level. That's a fine assertion, but it makes for a whole lot of confusion sandwiched by statements to the contrary. Gsell also says: "I wouldn't bring anything to" the legislators that would exceed the current tax rate. For their part, the legislators say that they hope to "decrease taxes."

So which is it?

Reporter Paul Mrozek writes in the article summary line: "Gsell's goal: Cut the tax rate." That's a fine goal, but if Gsell himself doesn't believe it's possible, what's the point of calling it a goal?

A meeting of the town of Batavia Planning Board scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. The board had only one item on its agenda—the "draft generic environmental impact statement" for the agri-business park—and it was not ready. It should be ready for review for the next meeting on October 21.

Another decision was postponed, this time in Albion. There, the Town Board put off voting on its local wind law Monday in order to make the revisions—"very minor word changes"—recommended by the Orleans County Planning Board. The proposed law will limit "wind energy conversion systems" to not exceed 120 feet. They will take up the vote at the next session on October 20.

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