Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

city council

May 10, 2022 - 10:39am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, notify.

potholesharvred2022.jpg

Motorists are expected to have a smoother drive on Richmond and Harvester avenues now that City Council has agreed to move a $3.6 million project for final approval later this month.

The project is considered “preventive maintenance” and T.Y. Lin International had already been selected as project engineer during a request for proposals process. The company will assist the city in bidding the project and oversee construction. On Richmond, it will run from Oak to State streets and from routes 5 and 33 to Route 63 on Harvester.

Council is expected to award a contract during its next meeting, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

If all goes as expected, completion of both avenues should be done by Nov. 30, she said.

From asphalt to topsoil, council also approved a transfer of Batavia Community Garden from the city to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County.

Cornell Cooperative will take care of the property and administer related funds for a yearly fee of $2,500, plus an initial $1,000 for the current 2022-23 fiscal year.

Cornell staff is to also assist the Community Garden Committee with operations, technical and administrative support and educational programming to all garden participants.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said that Cornell Cooperative Executive Director Jocelyn Sikorski was happy about the arrangement and that “I think we’re in good hands,” he said.

Sikorski said that agency staff has been involved in the garden since its inception in 2011, and there is a core of volunteers to help out.

“It fits in our wheelhouse,” she said. “The city asked if this is something our association was interested in, and it’s a perfect fit.”

Since it began, the Community Garden has grown from four raised beds to 42 raised beds in 2020 over the course of nine years.

A memorandum of agreement is for a five-year term.

Assistant City Manager Jill Wiedrick, who recently announced she would be leaving her position, had previously presented the garden idea to council. Tabelski thanked Wiedrick for her work this past year and wished her the best as she moves on to another job in Fairport. Friday will be Wiedrick’s last day.

Photos by Howard Owens

potholesharvred2022-2.jpg

potholesharvred2022-3.jpg

April 25, 2022 - 10:44pm
Video Sponsor
Video: 2019 Ramble Music and Arts Festival
 

 

There’s one thing for certain with the City of Batavia lately: entertainment is not taking a back seat to anything.

Live and DJ music, arts, a dunk tank, parades, dancers and food will be filling up calendars from May 30 to July 2 now that City Council has reviewed the requests and passed them on to a business meeting for official votes.

During its Monday conference session, the council looked over several requests for downtown events, from an old standby, the Memorial Day parade, to a new happening of a carnival.

Participants will be lining up at Eastowne Plaza the morning of Memorial Day and walking along Main Street to Bank Street, settling into the city parking lot on Alva Place. A yearly event to honor military veterans, the parade is being organized by City Council member Bob Bialkowski. It’s to begin at 9:45 a.m. and end before 11 a.m.
For more information about this event, go to: www.batavianewyork.com

Next up is a GLOW OUT 5K Run and Celebration that begins and ends at Centennial Park. This event is set for 5 to 9 p.m. on June 9.

GLOW OUT also has scheduled a parade and festival from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 11 at Batavia City Centre parking lot downtown. Some 15 vendors and an estimated 600 participants are expected for the event, according to the organizer, GLOW OUT President Gregory Hallock. It begins on Richmond Avenue in front of Centennial Park and winds around Bank and Ross streets, Washington and Ellicott avenues and back to Centennial.

Also on June 11 (expected to be very busy Saturday), is the Eli Fish Brewing Company Carnival in Jackson Square. Various food dishes from Eli Fish, beer, carnival games, a dunk tank, live entertainment and vendor booths are on the event menu from 4 to 10 p.m.

Council members had few, if any, questions or comments about the events, all of which have completed event request forms and supporting documentation. Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that the GLOW OUT parade is on the same day as the carnival, but there shouldn’t be any conflicts.

“I know these are two on the same day, one is in the square and the carnival itself is not going to require anything from the city,” he said. 

For more information about the carnival, go to: https://www.facebook.com/elifishbrewing/

A former Ramble event that now includes a GO ART! Music and Art Festival, is set to run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 downtown. Two stages for music from 20 to 30 bands, an Artisan Alley of artist demonstrations, an arts and craft vendor fair, food trucks, a folk art stage with dancers and other performers and a children's craft area will spill out from Jackson Square onto Jackson and School streets and into a portion of the Save-A-Lot parking lot.

Costs for these events include $2,571 for the Memorial Day parade, with $922 for city police and $1,649.17 for the Bureau of Maintenance; $538 each for the GLOW OUT 5K Run and Celebration and parade and festival ($1,076 total); $538 for city police and $919.29 for the GO ART! Music and Art Festival and no costs involved for the Eli Fish Carnival. 

The following disclaimer is included on the Event Summary page of the council’s meeting packet: 

“Event sponsors are responsible for any costs that may be incurred from their event and have been made aware of estimate costs, if any.”

Bialkowski wanted to clarify how conference meetings work, given that council seems to be voting once at a conference and then once again at a business meeting. 

“I think we’ve been remiss in conference meetings,” he said. 

Council gives a general consensus agreement about moving the agenda item forward to a business meeting, Jankowski said. “There’s been some confusion that we’re voting twice,” he said. The consensus is merely a group agreement to put the official vote onto the business agenda after discussing details in a conference work session, he said. 

The next council business meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 9 in Council Chambers, second floor, City Hall.

April 11, 2022 - 11:13pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, city council, assessments.

saulsbury.jpgCity Assessor Rhonda Saulsbury says she feels the pain of the many City of Batavia property owners who have been hit with higher assessments for several years in a row.

However, she’s not in a position to change what is happening due to New York State’s requirement that assessments are reviewed on a yearly basis and her office’s goal of achieving a 100 percent sale price-to-assessment ratio.

Saulsbury (photo at right) was at City Council’s Business Meeting tonight seeking to explain the inner workings of the assessment process in light of the numerous complaints she – and Council members – have received from city residents about the preliminary assessment notices that were mailed out last week.

Following up a comment by Council member Paul Viele, who called the state’s real property tax law “a disgrace,” Saulsbury acknowledged that the timing for yet another increase is not good.

“People are suffering; people are struggling with the pandemic, their finances, maybe their job, their children being home for so long – there’s so many things feeding into it, and I'm the one person that they can get a hold of and talk to,” she said.

“I do my best to explain it. We have New York State real property tax law for a reason. And unfortunately, New York State, as everybody in this room knows, is a heavy homeowner tax burden state. So, we have to follow those guidelines … It's kind of a vicious cycle for sure.”

In her 12th year as the city assessor, Saulsbury (who also handles the same duties for the Town of Batavia) said assessments change for only two reasons – equalization, meaning sale price-to-assessment ratios are growing apart, and for physical reasons, meaning something’s changed with the property, taken away or added.

“The culmination of a yearlong project is, of course, an assessment update,” she said. “And this year, we're in the thankless position to be in our fourth year in a row with really high increases across the board throughout the county, including the city.”

Saulsbury said the city started out at plus 4 – “meaning that our ratios were off 4 percent and above, four years ago,” she said – and it increased to plus 6 and eventually to plus 11.

“Just to kind of put that in perspective, in years’ past, the city was either zero or plus one,” she said. “The city's growth has grown exponentially over the last four years, which in itself is a good thing, but in my position, not a good thing.”

She said if property owners whose assessments have gone up decide to seek an informal review or appear at Grievance Day (May 26), she will explain, with current data, how she came to the assessment figure.

“For anyone who got an assessment increase, we can show you the five sales that we actually use for your home or your business,” she said. “It's not throwing darts at a dartboard as some people may think. It's actually quite a science and it's all based on our assessment-to-sale price ratio throughout the year.

“So, when you have 300 or 400 residential sales, in particular, and the sale price is 40, 50, 60, 80,000 dollars above the assessment, we then have to do an assessment project.”

Council member Robert Bialkowski asked that if sale prices dropped by 8 percent, for example, would that trigger another reassessment.

“It’s the same state guideline; we have to hit the same thing,” Saulsbury replied. “We have to maintain assessments at market value. We're at 100 percent market value, so if the sales actually were to dip – and most people don’t believe me – we would have to adjust to those, also. In our case, it has been up and we want it to be up or to be flat. I've never experienced anything where we had to reduce.”

Saulsbury said the state rewards the city periodically for achieving assessments based on 100 percent of market value, and expects to receive around $18,000 this year to help offset costs of conducting assessment projects.

Council member John Canale, who says he follows the real estate market on a daily basis, remarked that he’s not convinced that homes went up so much in value in one year.

“… people are calling me this year and saying, ‘I thought last year, you were up to 100 percent market value. I’m an intelligent man, you can't tell me that the housing market is going up that much more since 2021.’”

Still, he said he knows that Saulsbury isn’t the one to blame.

“You’re walking around with a target on your back right now. And I wouldn't want to be you. Unfortunately, a lot of people think you're the one that's making these decisions,” he said. “It’s very important that the public realize that no, you're basically the messenger. You’re hired to do a job and you're conducting the way you do your job by state requirements.”

Bialkowski said it comes down to “people don't trust the government anymore.”

“I have a friend, and on Saturday I met with him and he spent about 10 minutes just screaming at me,” he said. “He said, I’ll bet you $100 right now that you people don't reduce your budget enough that my taxes stay the same.’ And I said, ‘Well, there's three entities in here (Genesee County and the Batavia City School District being the others), you know, and I said we set our budget -- we're very conservative in the city and all that.’

“But I suppose there's other entities I'm not going to speak for, but they just lost trust in their government. And they've seen it and heard it before, and yet their individual tax bills keep increasing.

“And their homes. They need to do more work on them. And they need furnaces and new windows and all that. And they're starting to say, the guy the other day, it's starting to look really good (about leaving the state). He's going to move down south. He’s just fed up with the whole state and I can’t blame him.”

Previously: With property values rising, City prepares for annual assessments.

(This article provides information on how residents can challenge their assessments).

March 29, 2022 - 11:45am

liberty_center_logo.pngWith the Genesee Area Family YMCA now in charge of the City of Batavia youth program, City Council member Al McGinnis believes it is time to consider the future of the City Youth Board, a citizen-led group that traditionally has played a strong role in how the community’s young people are served.

“As the functionality of the organization changes, we have to change with it,” said McGinnis, Council’s liaison to the Youth Board, at Monday night’s Conference Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room.

McGinnis took a few minutes to ask Council and city management to consider the changes that have taken place since the city entered into an agreement with the YMCA to run the program – both at the Liberty Center for Youth on Liberty Street (the St. Anthony’s campus of City Church) and summer recreation.

“With the advent of the Y taking over and the Liberty Center, they pretty much have done a splendid job and a far better job than we as the city can do,” McGinnis said. “As the Y becomes more predominant and Liberty Center, the strength of the Youth Board – membership has dwindled. Right now, besides myself, there are only two active members and we have no students in it.”

Since the city is no longer a provider of youth services – and the YMCA is, McGinnis thinks the Youth Board should not have to meet every month (per its bylaws) and should become “advisory” in nature and meet maybe three or four times per year.

He also suggested that those who have served on the Youth Board could maybe fill slots on other citizen boards that support the city.

“We don’t dictate policy to the Y, we don’t dictate policy to the Liberty Center, and we could serve the public better by having the people on those boards take slots in other city government positions (advisory boards) that we have,” he said. “We always need volunteers.”

McGinnis acknowledged the work of those who have participated on the Youth Board and asked Council to send them letters of appreciation.

At that point, City Manager Rachael Tabelski brought up “a great opportunity for the board to work on projects,” specifically the inclusive playground at Austin Park that was approved by Council last November, with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act revenue.

“I hope Council would allow us to invite the Youth Board members to be part of that steering committee for the process moving forward for the inclusive playground at Austin Park,” she said.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said he didn’t not want to disband the Youth Board, suggesting that it could advise the YMCA and recommend other programming as need.

“… something they could input into that so that we as a member can direct the Y to change some things as to how they serve us as the customer,” he said, agreeing with Tabelski that the Austin Park project is a good fit.

Council member Robert Bialkowski said the Youth Board should remain, with members deciding to meet as necessary.

McGinnis said the Youth Board bylaws call for monthly meetings and also include term limits.

“People on the board have worked well past their tenure because we haven’t found anyone to replace them,” he said.

As far as the number of required meetings, City Attorney George Van Nest said if the Youth Board wants to change the bylaws, it just needs to make its intentions known to Council.

Council member Kathleen Briggs asked McGinnis if YMCA officials requested a change in the Youth Board’s function. He said that was not the case.

“The Y has been very good to work with as has the Liberty Center,” McGinnis said. “Everything they’ve done, let’s face it, they’re in the business of children, we aren’t. We’re in the business of government. We do government very well. We don’t do children very well. That’s not our job; that’s the Ys job.

It was decided that McGinnis would talk to the other Youth Board members – President David Twichell and Vice President Paula Fischer -- at their next meeting and report back to Council.

The Batavian reached out by email to Twichell and Fischer for comment this morning.

March 14, 2022 - 9:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, city council, Batavia PD.

The Batavia City Council tonight unanimously passed the 2022-23 budget, ending a five-month process that resulted in the funding of a $17.78 million general budget with a slight decrease in the property tax rate.

“It was a long process that starts in November when departments submit their budget. And we sit and we meet, and we hash out priorities in each department’s budget, especially when we're looking at general fund police and fire and DPW snow removal,” said City Manager Rachael Tabelski said following the Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Tabelski said she was “excited” by achieving a balanced budget “where the revenues conservatively are estimated to come in and match the expenses we have going out to, again, run the operations that people come to count on -- police, fire and roads.”

Council’s passage of the budget – the All-Funds budget totals $29.7 million – means that city property owners will pay a tax rate of $8.94 per $1,000 of assessed value – down by 78 cents from the 2021-22 figure.

That doesn’t mean that everyone’s tax bill will decrease since most homeowners’ assessments went up – a fact not lost on Tabelski.

“The tax rate will go down It will depend on -- your payment -- … if your assessment went up,” she said. “I know many, many residents -- almost 4,200 -- assessments went up because of market conditions during COVID and the hot housing market. My hope is that that has cooled slightly, and we're not going to see large sweeping increases in assessments moving forward because it is difficult.”

Tabelski said that people react differently when assessments are raised.

“Some people like the assessment to go up because it increases the equity and value in their home, and others understand that it can mean at times a tax increase as well,” she said. “So, I'm very sympathetic to kind of understanding where residents of the city are and trying to keep our budget as efficient as possible.”

When asked if she could identify one highlight of the budget, she came up with the fact that more money was put into the police department’s Emergency Response Team.

“They are called a countywide response team, but it's run by City of Batavia Police and they're called on the scenes where they might need something like hostage negotiation or barricaded individuals,” she said. “And I was happy that we're able to bring more funding to that program this year.”

Council also approved a 1.5 percent increase in water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

February 28, 2022 - 8:20pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, Hunt Engineering.

richmond_sworn_in_1.jpgIf the first Batavia City Council meeting for the newly-appointed Rich Richmond seemed like it went by in a flash, that’s because it did.

At the outset of tonight’s meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, Richmond was sworn in by City Clerk Heidi Parker to replace Jeremy Karas, who resigned his Council member at large seat (photo at right).

And 22 minutes later, the meeting was over as Council (guided by Assistant City Manage Jill Wiedrick, who was filling in for City Manager Rachael Tabelski) zipped through a number of agenda items, moving them to the board’s next Business Meeting on March 14.

Richmond, the City Republican chair, had several family members in attendance, including wife, Cindy; sons, Joe and Michael; Michael’s wife, Marjorie; daughter, Amber; grandson, Greydon, and granddaughter, Morgan.

Resolutions to adopt the 2022-23 budget and water rates/meter fees topped the list. Both provisions were forwarded with little discussion after a pair of public hearings failed to attract any speakers.

Council now is prepared to pass a $29.7 million All-Funds budget -- $17.8 million of it in the General Fund – that carries a property tax rate of $8.94 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is a decrease of 78 cents from 2021-22.

Water rates and meter fees are scheduled to go up by 1.5 percent.

Other forwarded resolutions were as follows:

  • Contracting with HUNT E/A/S of Rochester for $99,317 for architectural and engineering services for the design of the City Centre/Mall $1 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative project.
  • Authorizing work and contracts in connection with the city’s Water Treatment Plant and Waste Water Treatment plant.
  • Accepting a $1 million grant for the Jackson Street water main project.
  • Accepting a $5,000 grant from the GO Art! Statewide Community Regrant Program to fund the “Community Garden in Bloom” seasonal mural initiative at the Community Garden on MacArthur Drive.

Conservative Party Endorses Three

In other news involving local government, the Genesee County Conservative Party tonight endorsed Richmond and City Council colleague Tammy Schmidt as well as Richard Tetrault, who serves on the Le Roy Village Board.

Previously: City manager recommends HUNT engineering firm to oversee $1 million City Centre/Mall project

February 26, 2022 - 9:42am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, City Republican Committee.

rich_richmond.jpgA lifelong City of Batavia resident who says he only wants the best for the community is ready to fill the vacant seat on City Council.

“I am looking forward to this because I love the city,” Rich Richmond said this morning when asked about his selection by the City Republican Committee to replace Council member-at-large Jeremy Karas, who resigned at the end of January. “We’ve got good people living here.”

Richmond, 66, (photo at right), reported that he is expected to be appointed prior to Monday’s City Council Conference Meeting at 7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Board Room.

If that does happen, he would serve until an election in November and, if he wins in November, would serve out the remaining time in that term.

The City GOP chair, Richmond said a Republican committee of 24 people met earlier this week at the Old County Courthouse to interview three candidates and vote on Karas’ replacement.

“I recused myself from running that meeting,” he said. “The three of us were there to answer as many questions as the committee had.”

With his selection, Richmond said he would give up his position on the Genesee County Planning Board (he’s been a member of that committee for four years), but would continue on as City Republican chair.

“My experience on the planning board will be a plus, having dealt with zoning issues and related items, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do regarding city codes,” he said “I am also familiar with budgets as a member of the Godfrey’s Pond board of directors.”

About eight years ago, Richmond ran for a Ward seat on City Council but lost by 11 votes.

February 14, 2022 - 3:22pm
posted by Press Release in batavia, city council, City Democratic Committee, news.

Press release:

If you are someone who is civic-minded, independent, ambitious, enjoys exploring creative solutions to problems, and wants to make an impact in your community, we want to talk to you about running for local office.

If you are interested in getting involved politically in any capacity, please reach out to us at [email protected] or www.geneseedemocrats.net

The following local elected offices will be voted on in November 2022. 

  • City Council at Large

  • City Council 6th Ward Representative

January 30, 2022 - 5:06pm
posted by Press Release in batavia, City Republican Committee, city council, news.

Press release:

Regarding the upcoming vacant position of Council at large representative on City Council, City of Batavia Republican Committee Chairman Richard Richmond invites qualified individuals seeking to serve in this role to submit a letter of interest to him by February 17, 2022 

Mail Letters of interest to:

City of Batavia Republican Committee
PO Box 260
Batavia, NY 14021

To be qualified for the position, the prospective representative must be a resident of the City of Batavia and a member of the same political party as the representative who most recently served in the seat—in this case, a Republican.  These are requirements of Section 3-3 of the City Charter. ( Officially resigning, and his last day February 12, 2022, Jeremy Karas was a registered Republican; therefore, his replacement must also be a registered Republican).

The City Republican Committee expects to recommend an individual to the City Council, which has the appointment power to fill the vacancy temporarily.  The Council appointment will run through the calendar year 2022.  At the general election in 2022, there will be a special election to fill the remaining  3-years of the regular four-year term of office for the mentioned position.

 

January 27, 2022 - 10:38am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Jeremy Karas, city council.

jeremy-karas-temppress-1_a.jpgUpdated, 1/27, 4 p.m. with Karas and Richmond comments:

---------------

Jeremy Karas has confirmed that he is stepping down as a member of the Batavia City Council.

Council's Feb. 12 meeting will be the final one for Karas, who was elected last November to begin a second two-year term as Council member-At-Large.

Karas (photo at right) is an Elba native who is employed as service manager for Temp-Press

He told The Batavian this afternoon that his work responsibilities have increased significantly in recent months.

"Like I told Gino (Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr.) and (City Manager) Rachael (Tabelski), the last three meetings I was unable to make because I was out of town or still at a job site late at night," he said. "So, I just had to make that decision. It's the City of Batavia and the people deserve somebody who's going to be there -- although I had really hoped that I could have."

Karas said the COVID-19 pandemic actually has resulted in more business at Temp-Press, a company that deals with process control and instrumention wilth roughly 120 municipal and private business customers.

"With shortages and other things, they're relying on outside contractors like us more and more," he said. "Usually, this time of year is the slow time, but it just hasn't backed off one bit. I could be down in Erie, Pa., tomorrow and the next day over in Saratoga County.

He also said he wants to be able to spend more time with his family, which includes two boys, ages 14 and 12, who are involved in sports at Notre Dame.

In September 2019, Karas was appointed by the City Republican Committee to fill the seat vacated by Adam Tabelski.

The seat became available when Tabelski resigned due to the hiring of his wife, Rachael, as the city’s assistant manager. Rachael Tabelski now is the city manager.

Karas said he believes the city is heading in the right direction thanks to "good management and good support" from its employees.

"Council is in great shape, too, as far as I'm concerned. Everybody works together very well," he said."They all bring different things to the table, different types of experience and I am very proud to have served with that group. And hopefully, maybe 10 to 15 years down the road if things slow down, I might be able to get back in."

City Republican Chair Richard Richmond issued the following statement:

"Jeremy has been a good asset to the City of Batavia Republican Committee. I've worked with him over the years. He's reliable. I understand his work problem these days with COVID. But when he was on Council, he was quiet. He listened. He was studious. So, we're sorry to lose him

"The next thing is that we're going to be looking for somebody to replace him, and I will have a press release coming out soon. We're inviting people to be interviewed for the job."

January 25, 2022 - 8:59am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, cloven hoofed animals, goats.

The City of Batavia may have to get its ducks in a row after the City Council president on Monday night expressed his view that farm animals living in the community apparently have gotten his goat.

Eugene Jankowski Jr. said he was compelled “to start a conversation” over the fact that he has received a couple complaints from residents about neighbors who are keeping animals such as goats on their properties – resulting in excessive noise, excrement and other byproducts of such species.

“What we’ve had in the last year – we’ve had a couple of interesting cases where people had multiple goats on their property and it kind of disrupted the neighborhood,” Jankowski said. “I don’t know what we can do, if anything? I don’t know what the public input is on this, but I wanted to start the conversation and at least have some direction from Council …”

Jankowski suggested looking at what other municipalities are doing in similar cases, adding that maybe the city can act to limit the number of non-traditional pets and possibly to install some enforcement measures.

“When you have multiple goats in the backyard and they’re kind of loud and they scream and make weird noises, and they also leave a lot of dung laying around. Maybe we should have some oversight on it,” he added. “It’s not something you’d really expect to see in the city … (where) a person has to wake up with a goat screaming right outside their bedroom window at 5 in the morning.”

Terming it a “low priority” at this point, Jankowski asked for input from his colleagues.

Patti Pacino spoke up, stating, “If it’s disturbing someone, I think we need to look into it.”

Robert Bialkowski said he dealt with this issue in the past and noted that code enforcement officers treat farm animals differently than pets.

“If you have a lamb and it’s a pet and it’s named as a pet, there’s nothing they can do about it,” he said.

Bialkowski said in his case it was St. Bernard dogs “which probably leave as much waste as a small goat, and we couldn’t use our backyard in the summer because the flies were so bad; they didn’t clean up after themselves.”

He said he turned it over to the county Health Department and it was resolved quickly.

Jankowski said they he did try to resolve it but found it was a “gray area.”

“It wasn’t the same as a dog or a cat … and again I don’t want to prevent people from,” he said. “If they have a horse and that’s their means of transportation, where some communities do that … I wouldn’t want to prevent someone from living in the city and not having their transportation.”

The council president said he was referring more to goats, geese, ducks and even roosters who count themselves as city dwellers.

“I was told that Rochester has certain regulations on chickens,” he said. “Nothing like if you’re working the midnight shift and you just put your head to the pillow and you hear a rooster out your bedroom window. It kind of makes you angry.”

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, responding to Jankowski’s request to “find out what our options are,” asked what direction she should take.

“Are you directing me to look into all types of animals on city property or specifically goats, or cloven hoofed animals which would be considered sheep, goats, horse and cattle?” she asked.

Jankowski said he was thinking about animals normally considered to be raised on a farm, which produce food and eggs. He said he wanted to make sure the animals were treated humanely and safely, and were located in an area where they didn’t disturb the neighbors.

Again, he suggested finding out what other communities do and to get public input on the matter.

At that point, John Canale, speaking remotely, said he wished to stay “fairly neutral” since he is dealing with the same problem in his neighborhood.

“I, too, have received complaints about it and I am very apprehensive about making a move in any way because I get along with all my neighbors tremendously well and I certainly don’t want to put myself in a situation where I upset some neighbors and don’t upset other neighbors.”

Canale said if it came down to involving his neighbors that he would recuse himself from the fray, but agreed that Council should look into it.

“Totally understand,” Jankowski replied. “And one of the complaints I received was your neighborhood.”

Concluding the nine-minute discussion, Jankowski called for a “fact-finding thing” and report back in February or March.

January 24, 2022 - 9:37pm

hockey_rightsd_duo.jpg

Calling it a significant event in his lifetime, Batavia businessman Guy Pellegrino walked away from tonight’s City Council Conference Meeting with a good feeling that the Batavia Ice Arena soon will be named in honor of the late David McCarthy.

Pellegrino, owner of Pellegrino Auto Sales on Pearl Street Road, and Brian McCarthy, president of the David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, spoke to city lawmakers at the City Hall Council Board Room to let them know how much it would mean to them for Council to vote in favor of accepting their offer to purchase the naming rights of the Evans Street facility.

City management put out a Request for Proposal back in October and apparently has drafted a contract that stipulates annual payments of $3,100 from Pellegrino Auto Sales over a 10-year period for the privilege to rename the rink The David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena.

“You couldn’t find a better person to have their name on that building,” Pellegrino said. “This is one of the most special things I have ever embarked upon.”

Pellegrino said he and David played hockey together from 1983 through the Batavia High Ice Devils’ run to the New York State finals in 1995.

“He was our team captain and was just one of my great, great friends,” he said. “But back to the naming rights and making sure David's name is on there. He was just very passionate, just a great, great hockey player and even greater person. So, to honor him -- that's honestly what we set out to do.”

David McCarthy was killed tragically in a motor vehicle accident in November 2006 at the age of 29. Shortly thereafter, his family and friends started the foundation in his name to support local youth sports.

His brother, Brian, said he appreciates Pellegrino’s generosity and will work closely with him to advance youth hockey and enhance what the arena has to offer for children and adults, alike.

“Guy came to us and said when this proposal (from the city) came out that he wanted to do this – not necessarily for his business, but in honor of his teammate and my brother, David McCarthy,” Brian said to the City Council members.

“Our family was just blown away that he wanted to do this. We thought, well, what can we do? So, what we bring to the table is … a charitable foundation that is passionate about improving and supporting youth athletics in Genesee County.”

McCarthy said the foundation has supported “a long and diverse list of organizations” over the past 15 years. The foundation has donated around $80,000 to youth sports during that time.

136932461_104300151620785_8012738598735997461_n.pngWith help from his father, Michael, and other family and friends, McCarthy said the foundation is in a position to help sports groups get started or move to the next level.

“As Guy and I talked about it a few weeks ago, I have the fun job of often times getting back to these organizations, reporting to them that we're going to step in and help,” he said.

“We have a huge golf tournament every June where we raise money to support youth athletics and it's become a very big event, and the community has just been amazing in supporting us,” he mentioned. “So, we're excited to take kind of that recipe and join forces with the people that have been working hard for years to make the ice rink an amazing place, and maybe even add a little more to the equation.”

Both men said they are hopeful that their offer will be accepted when Council votes at its next Business Meeting on Feb. 14.

Judging by some of the Council members’ initial reactions, they have reason to be optimistic.

Patti Pacino said she has an 8-year-old and 4-year-old (grandchildren) that use the rink and said, “I couldn’t agree more” with their bid to win the naming rights.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. thanked both of them for “thinking about the long term” status of the rink and fostering public partnership; Tammy Schmidt noted that her son “grew up at the rink and now her grandson” and Robert Bialkowski said he was glad that somebody from Batavia responded to the RFP.

Bialkowski asked what would happen if the city leases the rink to a different management firm that wanted to change the facility's name. City Attorney George Van Nest said there is an opt-out clause and that would be addressed at that time.

For now, both Pellegrino and Brian McCarthy are spending their free time as coaches – teaching the basics of hockey to their young children.

“We’re coaching together at the beginner level. Yeah, the smallest kids on the ice – 4 and 5 years old; as little as they get,” McCarthy offered. “The two of us have a long extension to our own hockey adventure ahead of us with our sons.”

Photo: Guy Pellegrino, left, and Brian McCarthy address City Council tonight about their offer to have the Batavia Ice Arena named in memory of Brian's brother, David. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: City drafts resolution to name ice arena in memory of standout Batavia athlete David McCarthy

January 11, 2022 - 8:20am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, city council.

Barring any changes made during the budget workshop process, the City of Batavia’s property tax rate for the 2022-23 fiscal year will be $8.94 per $1,000 of assessed value – a decrease of 78 cents from last year’s rate.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski shared details of the municipality’s $17.7 million budget at Monday night’s City Council Business Meeting at City Hall Council Board Room.

Putting the tax rate into perspective, Tabelski said that 5,700 properties in the city support the city’s General Fund operating budget.

"The property taxes they pay make up 34 percent of our total budget revenue," she said. "And the typical tax bill for a resident that owns a house assessed at $100,000 will be $894 under this proposed manager’s budget. The county tax for that same home is $916 and the school tax (is) $2,057."

The proposed General Fund lists a tax levy increase of $121,403, Tabelski said, noting that plans call for reinstatement of service, personnel and equipment purchase. Additionally, the water and sewer funds are stable, and improvements in infrastructure are on the table.

Tabelski highlighted the amount invested into the city in recent years, stating that $132 million in public and private investments are changing the landscape of Batavia.

“Batavia is going to continue to fly back from its rust belt city status, embrace its vibrant roots, double down on the investment and continue to focus on economic growth and neighborhood revitalization,” she said, referring to the impact of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award the city received and other large-scale corporate projects.

Her presentation indicated that $96 million already has been invested, $36 million more is in the works and another $42 million is planned.

Last year presented a “dismal revenue picture,” Tabelski said, but things “look much better” for 2022-23.

She said that 41 percent of the budget revenue is from sales tax (budgeting for $6.8 million in sales tax), while property taxes will bring in around $6 million. State aid is pegged at $1.75 million.

“Real property tax is the most stable revenue supporting the General Fund budget,” she noted.

The city manager also mentioned increases in assessed value, stating that the city’s assessed value of property has grown by about 26 percent over the past eight years compared to a 49 percent increase in assessed value in the Town of Batavia.

“A major way of creating additional revenue is to improve the overall value of our commercial and residential properties,” she said. “That’s through investment and new builds, and for continuing the strategy with the Brownfield Opportunity Area and the DRI.”

Tabelski said that about a quarter of the city’s property is not taxable – and that amounts to around $220 million.

The General Fund budget also will be supported by $275,000 in appropriated fund balance, $275,000 in water fund transfer and $130,000 in (one-time) retirement reserves, she said.

“(The year) 2021 has been another unprecedented year,” she said. “However, the city saw revenues rebound with full payments on state aid that helped us avoid layoffs and unfreeze positions throughout the year.

“The difficulty we still face is prices of commodities, hiring and retaining great workers, as this continues to be difficult,” she said. “Overall, the budget you have before you provides more resources to the departments, adds in services that were previously cut or underfunded and strives to meet the needs of the residents of the city of Batavia.”

December 14, 2021 - 10:31am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Pok-A-Dot, city of batavia, city council.

img_6906dot.jpg

City Manager Rachael Tabelski solicited some laughter during Monday night’s City Council Conference Meeting while proposing to end a $40 per month, 56-year-old right-of-way lease with owners of the Pok-A-Dot Restaurant at 229 Ellicott St.

Tabelski said she believed it’s time for the city to terminate the lease (and City Attorney George Van Nest agreed) that was created after it was found that part of the building was on the city’s right-of-way.

At that time – the year was 1965 – it was agreed that Pok-A-Dot owners Philip Pastore Jr. and Joseph Marone would pay the city $40 per month.

“We’ve never changed the terms and conditions of the lease – and they’ve always paid,” Tabelski said, “and they’ve always provided great beef on Weck and French fries.”

In 2020, the restaurant’s current owners, Pastore’s wife, Leona, and daughter, Phyllis Pastore-Beers, expanded the business to accommodate COVID-19 distancing protocol and food pick-up options. In the process, they obtained a New York State Department of Transportation permit to complete the work because it is located in a U.S. right-of-way for missile transport.

Interestingly enough, the DOT permit carries a fee of $460 per year – slightly less than the fee of the Pok-A-Dot’s lease with the city. As a result, Pok-A-Dot owners are requesting an end to the city lease, Tabelski said.

City Council members agreed to move the proposal to its Jan. 10 Business Meeting for discussion and a possible vote.

Three other Conference Meeting resolutions were forwarded to last night’s Business Meeting and all were approved:

  • A 15-month contract, effective immediately, with AMREX of Binghamton to supply the Water Treatment Plant with sodium hypochlorite at an inflation-induced cost of $1.45 per gallon.

Calling it a “weird and wild ride procuring resources,” Tabelski said that was the lowest of seven bids received for the chemical, which is used for disinfection of the public water supply. She added that other municipalities are having similar supply issues.

Previously, the city paid 86 cents a gallon for the chemical, she said.

  • An emergency purchase of 400 pounds of refrigerant for a compressor at the Batavia Ice Arena on Evans Street at a cost of $19,800. The funds will be taken from the facility’s reserves, dropping the available amount to $371,000.

Tabelski said she approved the purchase after Carrier personnel replaced the compressor and discovered and repaired a couple leaks in the refrigerant system. Consequently, the system is low on R-22 refrigerant and could be in danger of malfunctioning.

  • The reappointment of realtor Bernadette Penfield to the Board of Assessment Review through Sept. 30, 2026.

Council also forwarded a resolution to the Jan. 10 Business Meeting to accept a $28,681 grant from Genesee County STOP-DWI to provide specialized patrols targeting drug and alcohol impaired driving, and the purchase of RADAR units, training of a Drug Recognition Expert and associated expenses.

File photo of the Pok-A-Dot by Howard Owens.

December 13, 2021 - 9:43pm

weed.jpgIt looks as though, by default, the City of Batavia is welcoming the opportunity to host retail dispensaries and on-site consumption places as permitted by the New York Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., speaking at tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Hall Council Board Room, said that since the municipality “has no control over it,” then it would be prudent to opt in and “get the money (that cannabis sales would produce).”

The topic was brought up by city resident John Roach, who correctly noted that if a community doesn’t do anything (as far as a formal resolution), “you’re automatically in.”

State officials are requiring municipalities to state their intentions by Dec. 31. Towns, cities and villages that opt out are able to opt in at a later date, but those that opt in, can never opt out.

Jankowski and Council member Robert Bialkowski both said they have received “positive comments” about opting in. The former said that “people are advising me to get the tax money” and the latter stated that some people -- including adults -- enjoy using marijuana.

Questioned further following the meeting, Jankowski said his understanding was that there were two choices: “Do nothing and automatically opt in after December 31st or do the resolution and opt out, and then I think there was recourse for the public to opt back in …”

The MRTA does stipulate that if a community opts out, residents could call for a public referendum to reverse that decision.

While many legislative bodies in cities, towns and villages across the state have discussed the matter in an open forum and drafted resolutions – or are in the process of doing so, City Council wasn’t one of them. Jankowski said none of his colleagues indicated a desire to bring the subject to a vote.

“Any council member could have easily brought it up and put it on the agenda but it just never came to the front because of a complaint by a citizen that adamant about wanting Council to do something about it,” he said. “The bottom line is I usually put my personal opinion to the side and I listen to the people I represent. And nobody from the city contacted me and was really passionate about it or concerned about opting out.”

Jankowski said he talked to many people over the past several months "and they basically told me they weren’t really happy about the way the state did it, but they understand the wisdom of getting any money from taxes."

"But we’re not even sure if anybody’s going to even open a business in the city," he added.

What's Up with the WWTP?

Roach also asked about the status of the City Waste Water Treatment Plant and the dispute with O-At-Ka Milk Products over the milk processing plant’s discharge into the ponds that exceeded legal limits.

City Attorney George Van Nest, offering no specifics, said engineers working with the city and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials are monitoring the recovery of the ponds with the goal of obtaining maximum efficiency.

In other developments, City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported:

  • The city will recognize Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate “instead of checking vaccination status at the door.” The mandate runs through Jan. 15, 2022. “We’re awaiting the executive order to make it official,” she said.
  • That 90 percent of the city’s National Grid customers now have power following Saturday’s major wind storm. She said that residents may place downed tree limbs next to the curb for pickup by Department of Public Works crews this week.
  • The possibility of planting trees to replace those that have come down due to storms and other reasons. Jankowski noted that the city hasn’t planted trees in a long time and suggested planting some each year over a five-year period. Tabelski said that wouldn’t be possible with money from the general fund without raising property taxes. She did say that donations from businesses or residents are welcome.
  • Two bids from contractors seeking to handle the Jackson Square renovation – one of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects – came in “double the price that was anticipated.” Tabelski said she was hoping for a cost of around $650,000, but the submitted bids were for more than $1 million. She said the project will be re-bid and, as a result, the start of construction will be pushed back until August 2022.
  • The city has hired Angie Dickson, a Corfu resident, as confidential secretary. The position had been vacant for several weeks after Lisa Casey left to become clerk of the Genesee County Legislature. Two DPW jobs are open – heavy equipment operator and laborer.
December 10, 2021 - 4:38pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, city council, city charter.

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.

RICHMOND: CHARTER IS VERY CLEAR

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."

SCHMIDT: IT'S IMPORTANT TO GET INVOLVED

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?

November 23, 2021 - 10:37am

friedman_and_gene_1.jpg

Larry Friedman rattled off a few one-liners Monday night as he accepted a proclamation from the City of Batavia in recognition of his 40-year career with the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office.

“I've been in the DAs office so long that when I started Eugene Jankowski was a young patrolman, and we both had a full head of hair,” said the retiring county DA, looking at the City Council president who had just presented him with the certificate. “And (former sheriff) Gary Maha was the chief deputy in the sheriff's office.”

Maha was among those in the audience honoring both Friedman and Rose Mary Christian, who has retired after 29-plus years as a City Council member.

Friedman served as the DA for six consecutive four-year terms – all unopposed. He prosecuted 140 felony trials, including high profile cases in the city.

The proclamation stated:

“Larry’s acumen as a trial attorney helped bring about justice for countless crime victims and help to fortify the integrity of the DA office. Larry served the citizens of the City of Batavia and the residents of Genesee County with expertise and a commitment to improve the safety, healing and access to justice for all.

“Therefore, in true spirit of appreciation to 40 years of dedicated service to the City of Batavia and Genesee County, the City Council of the City of Batavia does hereby make this proclamation to sincerely thank Larry Friedman for his dedicated service to our community and to wish him well in his retirement.”

In his brief acceptance speech, Friedman noted his “great working relationship” with City Council, city management and City Attorney George Van Nest, and also with the Batavia Police Department’s Detective Bureau.

“As was mentioned, I prosecuted many felony cases arising out of the city of Batavia. And every time I've had one that went to trial, I knew I could look to members of the Batavia Police Department Detective Bureau to give me the assistance I needed in doing the things that need to be done right up until the time of and even during the trial,” he said.

Friedman said he was “grateful to my staff members” and joked, “I'm kind of sorry that they have nothing better to do on a Monday night -- as a number of people from my staff are here.”

He also drew a laugh when he mentioned that Christian told him that her grandson had just graduated from law school and is taking the New York bar exam in February.

“So, I gave her my card and wrote Kevin Finnell’s (his successor as DA, who also was in attendance) name on it … and told her to send his resume to Kevin because we’re always looking for good people.”

In closing, he thanked those who “are here to support me as opposed to just having the cookies and coffee (that were put out for the reception for Christian). I really do appreciate this.”

Photo: Larry Friedman and Eugene Jankowski Jr. at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

November 20, 2021 - 10:41am

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. 

November 15, 2021 - 7:06pm
posted by Press Release in Rosemary Christian, batavia, city council, news.

Press release:

The City of Batavia will hold a gathering for the Honorable Rose Mary Christian on Monday November 22, 2021 in the Council Chamber beginning at 5:30 P.M.  All citizens and well-wishers are invited to attend.  The gathering will be followed by a City Council meeting where proclamations will be presented to Councilwoman Christian honoring her for her years of service.  Light refreshments will be served. 

Councilwoman Christian announced her resignation from City Council on November 15, 2021.  She is resigning the seat because she is moving out of the sixth ward. 

“After serving the residents of the City of Batavia as the sixth Ward Council Member for over 29 years I cannot thank the residents enough for their support.  Their commitment to the City of Batavia and prosperity to the neighborhood has remained steadfast.  It is with a very heavy heart that I resign my seat, but I feel confident that I have worked each day to make the lives of residents in Batavia better.  I wish my fellow Council Members well in their pursuit of good government and improving Batavia,” said Christian, City of Batavia Councilwoman- sixth ward.  

Councilwoman Christian has served as the sixth ward representative since 1992.  She has always been accessible to her constituents and Batavia citizens citywide. 

“I wish Councilwoman Christian the very best in her retirement from City Council.  She has been a staunch advocate of neighborhood initiatives and bringing resources into the sixth ward.  On behalf of all of the City Council Members I wish her the very best in the coming years,” said Eugene Jankowski, City of Batavia, City Council President.

Council Member Christian is a true public servant, performing honorable advocacy for the residents and community of Batavia and those who live in her Ward,” said Genesee County Legislator Rochelle Stein.  I commend Rose Mary Christian on her 30 plus years of elections, hard-won city initiatives over the years, and compassion for her voters in this much-beloved City of Batavia.  Best wishes for a full, healthy, and fun retirement.  Her continuity of knowledge shall be missed, yet surely she will stay engaged on City issues.  Well Done Rose Mary Christian, Well Done.

“Rose Mary Christian has been a good neighbor and exemplary public servant throughout her nearly 30-year career. She’s been steadfastly dedicated to making Batavia the best place to live and work it can be. While I wish her well in the next chapter of her life and career, she will be sorely missed by those she represented, who will remember her as a fierce advocate for working Batavians,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley. 

November 9, 2021 - 2:57pm

As one might expect, City Republicans and Democrats are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the section of the City of Batavia Charter that deals with the appointment of a City Council ward representative when a vacancy occurs.

Due to the pending resignation of longtime Sixth Ward Council member Rose Mary Christian, there will be an opening on the governing body. Christian is moving out of the southside district (sometime this week, she said) and no longer is eligible to serve in that capacity.

Before looking at the differing viewpoints, here is the wording of Chapter 3, Section 3 of the City Charter:

“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.”

The appointment of the next person to fill the Sixth Ward seat – at least until the next election – has become a sticking point due to the fact that Christian was a Democrat when last elected but switched to the Republican Party around a year and a half ago.

Richmond: Charter is Very Clear

richmond_1.jpgCity Republican Committee Chair Rich Richmond (photo at right) told The Batavian today that the matter is cut-and-dried: Christian’s successor should be a Republican.

“The charter is very clear,” he said. “It's very concise, and to the point … since she is a Republican, then the Republicans make the appointment. Furthermore, it’s a non-partisan issue, and some people are trying to make it one.”

When asked if his committee is moving toward finding a replacement, Richmond said a few people have expressed interest in the position.

“Yes, we are. And I might add that if she (Christian) were a Democrat, then the Democrat should make the appointment and I would accept that as a valid appointment,” he said.

Richmond’s comments echo those of City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., a Republican, who said the fact that Christian is a Republican now determines the path of the one to replace her.

DiSalvo: Time Frame Isn’t Specified

disalvo_1.jpgOn the other side, Sammy DiSalvo (photo at left), a member of the City Democrat Committee, pointed out today that the Charter doesn’t specify what time frame it is referring to, “which leaves the interpretation up to whoever is reading it to add their own time frame.”

“This section of the Charter says nothing about when they were elected nor does it say anything about at the time the Councilperson left office,” DiSalvo added.

He took exception with Jankowski’s contention that the Charter is “pretty specific.”

“Jankowski's statement is largely inaccurate,” DiSalvo said. “There is no time frame specified. I find Jankowski speaking as if there is no debate about a time frame that is not listed in the Charter as disturbing -- that the President of Council would interject his own opinions rather than listen to those who wrote the Charter, and the lawyers who must interpret the Charter.”

Speaking of lawyers, City Attorney George Van Nest gave no response when asked by The Batavian about this situation prior to Monday night’s City Council meeting. An email seeking clarification was sent to him this afternoon as well. DiSalvo said that he placed a phone call to Van Nest last week, which went unreturned.

According to DiSalvo, wording and intent need to be considered – a point brought up in a memo from city resident John Roach to City Council. Roach was involved in the drafting of the Charter some time ago.

Rewriting of Charter May Be in Order

“Where wording is not explicitly clear, intent is the default by which we must abide,” DiSalvo said. “It is not up to the interpretation of elected officials, and it is not up to those who have political gain to make such a decision or to speak with such authority as if they are not to be questioned. For those with direct gain from this situation to make decisions about this situation is irresponsible and an abuse of our political system.”

DiSalvo said that regardless of the outcome, this part of the Charter “must be rewritten for clarification purposes.”

Erica O’Donnell, City Democratic Committee chair, said her group believes that a Democrat should be appointed since that was the party the voters of the Sixth Ward chose to represent them when Christian was first elected.

“We also are consulting with an attorney to help us interpret the charter,” she noted.

Reason for Changing Affiliations

Christian has said that she changed parties after not receiving the Democratic endorsement due to her right-to-life stance.

“That was her party for her whole life,” Richmond said. “For the nomination, they gave it to her and then they took it away. She went out and got her own signatures and got on the ballot.”

He said that Republicans didn’t always agree with her, but emphasized that “there is room in our party for differences of opinion.”

“It appears to me that they didn't give it to her because she has a heartfelt stance on abortion. I can very well understand why she switched.”

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break