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September 17, 2020 - 10:19pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Town Board, Gregory Post, genesee county.

Town of Batavia board members are facing a potential $1 million budget shortfall as they work to develop a spending plan for fiscal year 2021 that begins in January.

“Genesee County has allocated $8 million for revenue sharing next year, of which the Town of Batavia would get $1.3 million. That’s a million dollars less than what we budgeted to receive from the county in 2020,” said Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post after Wednesday’s board meeting at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road. “We have to make that up by reducing the budget and increasing other revenue streams.”

To make matters worse, Post said the town has received about $1.1 million from the county thus far in 2020 and, despite two more scheduled distributions, likely won’t hit the budgeted amount of $2.3 million.

“We really don’t know what the numbers will be,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t help that (Six Flags) Darien Lake has been closed all summer and we won’t see that sales tax.”

In short, the board has some hard choices to make – cut expenditures (a process that already has begun), use some of the unrestricted fund balance and/or raise property taxes.

Post said a substantial tax rate increase from the current $2.42 per thousand of assessed valuation is a distinct possibility.

“We would have to double the tax rate to raise the million dollars we need to close that gap,” he said, adding that the board does not want to go that route. 

State Aid, Other Revenue is Down

The supervisor said the town has limited options on the revenue side.

“State aid already's been reduced by 20 percent – we’re not looking for that – plus we got a smaller percentage of VLT (video lottery terminal) money, we didn’t get any fine money for six months from the courts, and I don’t expect that to surge,” he said. “And building permit fees are likely going to be reduced this year because we haven’t had any significant commercial and industrial expansions and developments, and the local homeowner building permit fees generally don’t make a big difference.”

Post said mortgage taxes seems to be “on the uptick, but revenue from the sale of obsolete equipment is off the table – we haven’t been able to disperse any of that because we have to keep everyone employed in a separate vehicle due to COVID-19 and potential for contagion.”

He said the board has reviewed all revenue streams, and now is looking at putting some of its unexpected fund balance into the 2021 budget.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” he said. “This year (2020) our fund balance was budgeted at one million dollars. We’re working very hard to reduce this year’s expenditures – our target is to reduce that by $700,000, and save that $700,000 of fund balance to spread over the next couple years to buffer an inevitable property tax increase because I don’t see New York State politicking their way out of bankruptcy.”

Albany's Way or the Highway?

A fierce critic of the state’s progressive policies, Post took Albany to task for what he says is taking money from essential areas and blindly reallocating it.

“The fact that they have taken money out of highway funds, which are paid for strictly by gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, and distributed it to things that are serving people that don’t drive cars and buy gasoline, is an example of something that is destined to fail,” he said.

He bemoaned the fact that the federal government hasn’t raised the gasoline tax in 20 years despite cars now “getting 40 miles per gallon instead of 10 miles per gallon.”

“So, revenues per vehicle have been reduced by 75 percent,” he said. “We’ve increased the number of vehicles but it’s not enough to offset the ever-increasing costs of highway maintenance.”

Post said the town’s budget “will be adjusted to the maximum degree that we can reduce but we’ve ‘leaned’ this community out 10 years ago.”

“Our highway superintendent’s salary was reduced from $58,000 to $15,000 10 years ago. We’ve got a number of people working two or three different positions and sharing jobs, so that there’s no real person here that’s not essential. Our engineering department is averaging between 25 and 75 percent reimbursement on the projects they bring in, and that doesn’t count the value of the projects they are delivering to our community,” he offered.

Town's Growth is Impressive

He said he’s proud to see 30-percent growth in the assessed value of the town over the past decade, adding that average income has gone up by a like amount during that span.

“And property values continue to escalate, and houses continue to sell for more than they’re assessed for – more than their asking price. It’s like nothing any of us have ever experienced,” he said. “There wasn’t a revaluation done last year because our apprehension was that COVID was depressing the economy to the point where real estate would tank, and we would have an increased assessment on this year’s budget and then next year we would have to drastically reduce the assessment – but exactly the opposite happened.”

Post said the town assessor will be conducting a revaluation this winter, but those new assessments won’t take effect until 2022.

“The State of New York is saying ‘these are the numbers that we’re seeing, and these are what you’re going to have to get in order to get the state aid,’ ” he said.

Not knowing accurate revenue figures at this time makes it hard to gauge how much of the town’s fund balance should be appropriated to the 2021 budget, Post said.

“How much should we judiciously use of the unexpended fund balance to offset this disaster that came from Albany, and do we adjust the property tax rate so that we don’t spend down our buffer funds, because I don’t see the end of New York State’s interference in local government distribution,” he explained. “I don’t see the state coming up next year and saying, ‘OK, we’re going to refund everybody to their full amount.’ I don’t see that happening, so we need to guard the cash that we have very carefully.”

Public Hearing Set for Oct. 21

Along those lines, the town board passed a resolution to set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 for a local law to override the state’s limit on the amount of real property taxes that may be levied by the town for the fiscal year 2021, which is based on the calendar year.

“How can that person in Albany tell me that I have to cap my revenue stream when they’re cutting us by up to 35 percent?” he asked.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 30 to distribute the tentative 2021 budget.

Post is calling on more residents of the town to participate in the process or at least educate themselves on how the process works.

“Ultimately, the people in the community are going to have to assist our town board and contribute their thoughts and their ideas, and be more informed. We have very little participation in our community until there’s a controversy,” he said. “When we don’t get any participation or nobody asking questions, we’re obligated to figure it out on our own. I would be happy to educate anybody that may be interested in knowing how this process comes about.”

Census Deadline is Sept. 30

Post encouraged citizens to make sure they fill out their census form as it determines representation and funding levels as follows:

  • Determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • Defines congressional and state legislative districts, school districts and voting precincts;
  • Determines the annual allocation of $675 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, SNAP, highway planning, Section 8 housing grants, special education grants, national school lunch program, Head Start and other social programs;
  • Provides insight to governments, business and community planning groups.

The deadline to complete and submit census forms is Sept. 30.

September 17, 2020 - 4:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, bergen, batavia, Le Roy.

Jennifer D. Abrams, 29, of Locust Street, Rochester, and Tarus O. Fluitt, 47, of Rochester (address not provided), are both charged with: third-degree burglary, a felony; second-degree criminal mischief, a felony; third-degree attempted burglary, a felony; third-degree criminal mischief, a felony; and two counts each of fifth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor. In addition, Fluitt only is also charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a misdemeanor. At 2:12 a.m. on Sept. 16, two suspected allegedly attempted to gain entry to the Kwik Fill gas station at 7010 W. Main Street Road, Le Roy, by throwing large rocks through the glass front door. The suspects then fled the scene after not being able to make entry. At 2:27 p.m., the same two suspects allegedly made entry to the Crosby's gas station at 5267 Clinton Street Road, Batavia, by throwing a large paver stone through the front glass door. The suspects entered the store and were allegedly in the process of stealing about $3,500 worth of cigarettes, when a Genesee County Sheriff's Office patrol arrived to check on the business, and they confronted the two suspects inside the store. The suspects fled out an alternate entrance, and went into a wooded area behind the store. They were apprehended a short time later. It is alleged they caused more than $1,500 in damage while inside the store. They were arraigned in Genesee County Court and jailed in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond. Fluitt remains in custody and is awaiting arraignment. The Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate this incident as well as similar incidents that have occurred in recents weeks. The case was investigated by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun, Deputy David Moore, Deputy Ryan Young, Deputy Jordan Alejandro, Investigator Christopher Parker, and Chief Deputy Joseph Graff. They were assisted by members of the NYS Polive Department, Batavia Police Department, Le Roy Police Department, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and other members of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Kyle Allen Hawley, 30, of Chili Riga Road, Churchville, is charged with: second-degree burglary; criminal mischief -- intentionally damaging property; and criminal tampering in the third degree. On Sept. 15, members of the Genesee County Probation Department took Hawley into custody on an active, outstanding bench warrant out of Genesee County Court. It stems from an incident reported at 9 p.m. April 20 on South Lake Avenue in Bergen. Hawley was arraigned in county court at 3:05 p.m. and put in jail without bail. Hawley also had an arrest warrant out of Bergen Town Court and he was arrested on that warrant and released on his own recognizance. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen.

September 17, 2020 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gced, STAMP, business, notify.
Video Sponsor

The total annual tax revenue from all current Genesee County Economic Development Center-backed projects -- more than 160 since 2006 -- will generate more than $8.4 million in additional property tax revenue for local governments once all the projects have matured out of their PILOT phase.

There are more than 90 projects that received a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) that are now completely on the tax rolls.

A PILOT waives property taxes on the increase in assessed value associated with a building expansion or new construction but requires the property owner to make payments to the local taxing jurisdictions. 

The 71 projects currently with an active PILOT generated $1.5 million in revenue for local governments, such as municipalities, the county, and school districts, in 2019.

The projects with completed PILOTs generated another $3.5 million in revenue for local governments -- revenue that would not have been realized if the property owner had not expanded or started a new project causing an increase in the assessed value of the property.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, Jim Krencik, marketing director, and Lezlie Farrell, CFO, shared data on GCEDC's progress during an annual review presentation for the county's Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Hyde and Mark Masse, vice president of operations, both said Genesee County is well-positioned to take advantage of the new thinking among manufacturers in the post-pandemic world, when many companies realize they need to tighten up their supply chains and "reshore" (bring factories back to the United States) their operations. They're looking for shovel-ready sites, and there is ample such acreage in the GCEDC-created industrial parks around the county.

"Companies are taking a serious, hard look at where there are failings in the current system, from raw materials up through shipping," Masse said.

On a recent statewide conference call with three of the nation's top site selectors, one of them, whom Hyde described as the dean of site selectors, praised Genesee County.

"We've been working on getting on his radar for 10 years," Hyde said. "When you start to get on their radar, you've got a shot."

As for STAMP -- the industrial park in Alabama being marketed to tech manufacturers -- there are five companies currently considering siting a new facility there, including a semiconductor company that Hyde indicated Sen. Charles Schumer helped swing Genesee County's way.

These are long-term projects so Hyde said it will be a while before any of these potential suitors sign a deal.

The biggest obstacle to industrial growth in Genesee County is the lack of quality housing stock. That makes it harder to attract companies who want to ensure employees who move here can find quality housing or it means well-compensated employees move to Rochester or Buffalo.

Hyde noted that the average age of a house in Batavia is 73 years, twice the national average.

September 17, 2020 - 11:04am

Update: 1:30 p.m. with comments from Steve Hyde, president and chief executive officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

"Through the support of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, more than $60 million is being invested in Batavia through brownfield redevelopment, historic building renovation, and new construction.

"In this instance, we deeply appreciate the funding support by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal for Ellicott Station. The agency is a tremendous partner in helping to revitalize our community. HCR's support for transformational projects like the redevelopment of Ellicott Station is another significant step forward for our community's continued growth."

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

Buffalo developer Samuel Savarino this morning said the allocation of nearly $5.7 million of low-income housing tax credits for the Ellicott Station project is the key to moving the project forward.

“This is the critical component and major milestone,” said Savarino, chief executive officer of the Savarino Companies of Buffalo.

Savarino said that the commitment from New York State Homes and Community Renewal will enable his company to “get the investment in for the tax credits, which we are working on right now.”

“Closing and commencement of construction could occur anywhere between fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year,” he said. “That depends on a number of factors, including New York State being ready to close. We’re not the only transaction they have.”

The $22.5 million mixed-use brownfield development project on the site of the former Soccio & Della Penna construction company and Santy’s Tire Sales on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia has attracted other funding streams and tax incentives since being announced more than four years ago.

Savarino said the HCR award -- reported first on The Batavian -- is a “critical component which all the other commitments of the project which are in place have been waiting for.”

“We’re very pleased to have gotten the award. There are an awful lot of projects and an awful lot of communities competing for these awards, so I think it speaks well (for) not only the project but (also) the efforts of everybody in Batavia. It certainly is good news,” he said.

It is anticipated that construction could last for up to a year and a half.

Andrew Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, expressed his thanks to HCR and the Housing Trust Fund Corporation for their continued support and investment into the City of Batavia and its downtown.

“HCR has also provided the city several New York Main Street grant programs in the past that were executed successfully,” he said. “Most recently, the City of Batavia was successful in obtaining an award for another round of New York Main Street grant funding in the tune of $300,000.”

Maguire said state funding sources “will continue to help building owners complete rehabilitation projects with a focus on additional residentials units, which is an identified need in our city and county.”

“As we continue to see increased economic development in our city with catalytic projects like Ellicott Station, and many other projects coming to fruition, HCR, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and many other state agency programs have been an integral part of that process,” he noted.

Previously: BREAKING: NYS Homes and Community Renewal approves $5,691,573 award for Ellicott Station​

September 16, 2020 - 10:34pm

The New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency has approved an award of $5,691,573 for Ellicott Station, a mixed-use brownfield development project to be built on the site of the former Soccio & Della Penna construction company and Santy’s Tire Sales on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

Minutes from a July 14th teleconference meeting of HCR’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation, a subsidiary public benefit corporation of the NYS Housing Finance Agency, reveal that Savarino Companies of Buffalo, project developer, was one of 19 initiatives receiving assistance.

The minutes also indicate that the committee members "hereby provide that this authorization will lapse after 360 days if a closing on all sources of construction financing sufficient to complete the project has not occurred."

The plan for Ellicott Station, with a price tag of $22.5 million, is to construct a five-story apartment building with 55 new, modern workforce housing units, as well as a brewery, restaurant/beer garden and potential further development on 3.31 acres. It is expected to create 20 jobs in the city’s downtown area.

The venture has received funding ($425,000) from Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

In December 2016, the project was awarded a $1.9 million Consolidated Application Grant through the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council. It was introduced to the public by Batavia Development Corporation officials at a press conference nine months earlier.

A telephone call and text message to Chief Executive Officer Samuel Savarino have yet to be returned.

Batavia's Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that Savarino Companies have paid all of the building permit fees to the city, a sign that activity could be underway in the near future.

According to its website, the HTFC’s mission is to further community development through the construction, development, revitalization and preservation of low-income housing, the development and preservation of businesses, the creation of job opportunities, and the development of public infrastructures and facilities.

Financing resources include agency-issued tax-exempt, taxable, and 501(c)(3) bonds, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and subsidy loans.

The HTFC also authorized a $4 million award to Home Leasing LLC of Rochester for its Liberty Square project, a 55-unit, four-story apartment building that is under construction on a parcel of land that had been the site of homes at 552, 554 and 556 E. Main St., Batavia.

Twenty-eight of the apartments will be set aside for homeless veterans with the remainder designated as affordable for lower-income residents.

The total cost of that development is expected to exceed $12 million.

September 16, 2020 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, schools, education, notify.

There are any number of reasons that a child might have the sniffles, or run a fever, or get a stomachache. But since all of these ailments are also potential symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, school districts are under instruction from the State Health Department to isolate children with these and other symptoms until its confirmed that child can't spread the disease at a school, said Rochester Regional Health Pediatrician Dr. Steven Schulz today in a Zoom conference call with reporters.

"Because of low community prevalence, there's a 99-percent chance that those symptoms are due to a different virus, that it's not COVID and that's a good thing and a good place that we're starting out with," Schulz said.

"But because we don't want COVID to spread in the schools and break out, we are being very stringent. Actually, it's the Department of Health that's been very stringent with regulations on what's required to eventually return to school."

If a child goes home with a potential COVID-19 symptom, that child can't return to school unless there is a negative COVID-19 test, and the child is again symptom-free, and a doctor has cleared the child to return to school.

The reason a child must be symptom-free even after a negative test for COVID-19, Schulz said, is because of the small percentage of COVID tests that return a false negative.

Schulz serves on the Finger Lakes Region School Reopening Task Force and is one of the people responsible for writing school reopening guidelines in the region. RRH, parent hospital group for UMMC in Batavia, sponsored today's press conference on what parents should know as their children return to school.

Possible COVID-19 symptoms that could lead to a child being kept out of school include runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, poor appetite.

"There's a whole host of conditions that can cause all of those things, not just COVID," Schulz said. "And so many kids do have chronic conditions, such as seasonal allergies that can have overlapping symptomatology."

For children with chronic conditions, a doctor can verify those conditions and letters written as needed to allow those children to return to school.

What the main focus is on, he said, is the development of new, or different, or worsening symptoms. 

"Every school district has implemented a screening protocol for students and parents to go through before that student set foot sets foot on campus If they screened positive for any of those," Schulz said. "Again, focusing on new and worsening symptoms, in particular, and those would be reasons for an evaluation with the health care provider.

"Obviously, the big one would be a fever. If a child has a fever, they certainly would need to have additional evaluation. So we, of course, would encourage families if there is any concern that their child might have symptoms that are consistent with COVID to contact their health care provider for the next steps."

If a child at a school does test positive, the Health Department will take over, conduct contact tracing, and determine if any other children were exposed and take proper precautions as necessary. If proper social distancing has been maintained and masks are worn properly, it may not be necessary to quarantine other children.

One thing parents can do to help the entire community, Schulz said, is to ensure they and their children receive a seasonal flu shot.

"It's especially important this year," Schulz said. "COVID and flu have a lot of overlapping symptoms and people can theoretically be infected with both. The concern with that is that we could overwhelm our health care system not just with COVID, but also with flu. Both together could overwhelm it even more.

"So the flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and others around you from getting the flu. And we are encouraging everyone to get that as early as possible this year."

September 16, 2020 - 2:36pm

Contracts for school resource officers at the Byron-Bergen Central School District and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (BOCES) were approved on Monday afternoon by the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee.

At a meeting at the Old County Courthouse, the committee endorsed memorandums of understanding that place county sheriff’s deputies in the schools as follows:

  • Byron-Bergen, 12-month pact from Sept. 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2021, at a cost of $96,720.86, which includes salary, fringe benefits and medical insurance;
  • GVEP, 10-month pact from Sept. 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, at $77,327.70, and from Sept. 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, at $78,191.89, which includes salary and fringe benefits.

County Sheriff William Sheron said that Deputy Josh Brabon will be assigned to Byron-Bergen and Deputy Rich Schildwaster will be assigned to GVEP.

Appointments at both schools changed recently with the retirement of Deputy Chris Erion.

The discrepancy in the contract figures stem from the fact that Schildwaster is not taking the medical insurance, instead opting for a “buy-back," Sheron said.

The actual dollar amounts could change after ratification of hourly rates negotiated with the Genesee County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, and yearly retirement and health insurance rates. All costs associated with the SROs are paid for by the school districts.

In other action, the committee:

-- Approved allocating $28,900 from the 1 percent sales tax fund to advance a capital project for improvements at the Genesee County Animal Shelter at 3841 W. Main Street Road.

The county received a $200,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets under the Companion Animal Program and proceeded to solicit bids from qualified contractors for the renovation.

Committee approval awards the job to Testa Construction Inc., of Rochester, which put in a bid of $209,900. Since the balance in the project after architectural costs is $181,000, the amendment to take an additional $28,900 was necessary.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said that improvements include installation of mobile kennels, properly winterizing the facility (ventilation system modifications), flooring, caging and fencing.

-- Accepted a grant from the NYS Office of Victim Services in the amount of $130,104.49 to cover the period of Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021 to continue Genesee Justice’s Victim Assistance Program.

Genesee Justice Coordinator Catherine Uhly said the award represents a 23-percent increase from last year.

The animal shelter and Genesee Justice resolutions will be considered by the Ways & Means Committee at a meeting scheduled for 4:30 this afternoon at the Old County Courthouse.

September 16, 2020 - 12:27pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night approved site plans for additions to the Imagination Station child care center at 5079 Clinton Street Road and HP Hood at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“The day care center will be adding two classrooms in the back,” Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said, noting that the State Environmental Quality Review revealed no negative impact to the area. “We’re happy they are doing a successful business and it was unanimously approved.”

The 2,800-square-foot addition measures 78 feet wide by 36 feet deep. The project’s estimated cost is $250,000, according to documents submitted by owners Kelly and Eric Kronbeck of Alden.

At HP Hood, plans call for construction of a 7,200-square-foot commercial cooler for more storage at the processing plant.

Previously, both site plans were recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

September 15, 2020 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news, notify.

img_2624itsathreat.jpg

Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 congressional seat in this November's election, threatened me this past weekend.

The threat wasn't the first one McMurray has leveled at me.

The first threat was on a phone call on Feb. 16. That was the day we published this story: McMurray tweeted about his employer but mostly after he was put on unpaid leave.

Feb. 16 was also the first day in my professional journalism career, which goes back to 1986, that a candidate for public office, at any level, yelled at me over the telephone. To be honest, I shouted just as loud in my rejoinder. It was heated. I'm sure profanity was involved. It was a bizarre and disturbing conversation to have with a man who claims he's the best person to represent us in the House of Representatives. 

I don't have a recording of this conversation. Perhaps McMurray will release the recording he suggested he made. He has intimated -- part of his course of threats against me -- that he records all of his conversations.

I'm not sure what to say about a man who records all of his conversations without informing the other party. It's legal in New York. That doesn't make it ethical.

This conflict arose from a story we published Feb. 15: Nate McMurray's employer, owned by the family of his NY-27 opponent, placed him on leave without pay.

The story prompted Michael Caputo -- an Erie County resident, longtime Republican political strategist, and one of the early media supporters of The Batavian (he had me on his former television show once) -- to post a tweet suggesting I wasn't a real journalist for not including the assertion that McMurray was potentially placed on leave because of use of twitter to criticize Delaware North.

I immediately called Caputo and complained about the tweet but also admitted he was right: I should look at the timing of McMurray's tweets criticizing Delaware North. Caputo apologized for his rash tweet, and I believe he deleted it. (I can't confirm this because Caputo deleted all of his tweets after he joined the Trump Administration as assistant secretary of public affairs for Health and Human Services.)

I informed McMurray I intended to do a follow-up story. McMurray questioned my judgment. I told him -- as I remember it, but McMurray has the recording, not me -- that Caputo's criticism was valid. As a matter of journalistic ethics, I should look at those tweets. I also made the statement, as quoted back to me in a later text message by McMurray, "I do not want to deal with Caputo's army. I don't want these people on my back." I trust the accuracy of McMurray's quote since he apparently has a recording that I don't have.

As a Democrat, I'm sure McMurray is familiar with the concept of "cancel culture" -- the practice of bands of political extremists piling on people on Twitter to demean and threaten them, even threaten their livelihoods and personal safety, to enforce some perceived politically correct orthodoxy. It's not just a leftist thing. Trump supporters do it, too.

While I'm on friendly terms with Caputo, I also know the most single-minded of Trump supporters follow him on Twitter. Caputo is nothing if not expert at stoking the passion of Trump's base (as I think this New York Times article out yesterday illustrates (since this coverage, it appears Caputo has deleted his Twitter account)).

Any sane person would want to avoid getting "canceled" by the paranoid and angry mobs of either the left or the right. 

But that isn't the reason I wrote the story I did. Caputo had a legitimate point about the ethics of not including that information. It was something that I didn't even think about while working on the first story. It was an oversight that needed to be corrected.

My concern about Caputo was real, but that wasn't the reason I pursued a follow-up story. If I thought Caputo wrong about our failure to look a little deeper, I wouldn't have cared what he tweeted, but I saw no reason to volunteer for abuse in a situation where I had no real defense against his accusation.

There is a reason I never married the girl I dated in college. McMurray's twisting my statement into some a charge of capitulation to Caputo reminds me of her. She was an expert at turning an innocuous statement into an argument. It's what manipulators do.

The ironic thing is, the follow-up article, I contend, was quite favorable to McMurray. It showed Delaware North didn't suspend him because of his tweets. The tweets mocking the Jacobs family and Delaware North all came after McMurray's leave of absence began.

So while Caputo was right on the journalistic ethics of not looking at that aspect of events, he was wrong on the facts of the case.

Still, McMurray was angry. In our Feb. 16 call, he threatened to expose me as a toady to Michael Caputo. I loudly suggested to him that would be a bad idea, and he backed down.

Over the course of his threats, McMurray has questioned my journalistic credibility, calling me an activist. The insinuation is that I'm in the pocket of either Caputo or Jacobs, or both, or that I have a secret anti-McMurray, pro-GOP agenda.

The funny thing is the frequent commenters on Facebook who, every time we publish one of McMurray's press releases, try to engage in their own form of cancel-culture attacks on me and The Batavian, all think I'm on McMurray's payroll.

McMurray conveniently ignores the fact that early in the 2018 campaign, The Batavian was the first publication in the district to take his candidacy seriously. We did the first substantial interview with him.

Covering McMurray has never been about McMurray's politics. He's a candidate for federal office. He deserves to have his voice heard. It would be unethical to deny him a platform to be heard. It's why we publish all of his relevant press releases no matter how inane I might find them personally. We've done nothing in publication but treat him fairly.

Even after these attacks from McMurray started, we showed up at one of his campaign events and published a video that most would think reasonably and accurately captured the event with no anti-McMurray spin.

I suspect McMurray's anger about the Feb. 16 article had more to do with the fact that I quoted Caputo at length in the story than the fact that I did a follow-up.

I already knew McMurray hated Caputo. He had made his animosity clear months earlier in a private dinner meeting at Eli Fish Brewing Co. I also knew Caputo hated McMurray. More than once, he's said to me, "McMurray is a punk."

The next conflict came up around June 16, when we published five video interviews with the candidates in the NY-27 special election. McMurray proudly tweeted out a link to his interview with The Batavian but falsely claimed that Jacobs refused to submit to an interview. I retweeted his tweet and pointed out this error, linking to the interview with Jacobs.

Within minutes, McMurray started sending text messages. Among his claims, that I had told him that Jacobs had refused to sit for an interview. I never told McMurray any such thing. I can guarantee you, McMurray has no recording to support that assertion. He also said, accurately, that I would inform him once I had secured an interview with Jacobs. I neglected to follow through on this promise, which I had forgotten about until he reminded me.  

Be that as it may, I would expect a candidate for federal office to be informed enough about the media coverage of his own race to know when an interview is posted with his chief rival before making a claim that is falsifiable. How he could have missed an interview with Chris Jacobs on the home page of the best-read news source in Genesee County is something I can't explain.

Our ensuring testy text exchange included McMurray stating, "Time to start calling you out, Bro," followed by "I got tape."

To me, this was another threat. It was another attempt at extortion, another attempt to bully me into not bucking McMurray's campaign narrative. 

Later in July, there was the debate about whether Genesee County is a "news desert," the latest trendy phrase among media pundits about rural counties without sufficient local news coverage.

Margaret Sullivan is the former editor of the Buffalo News. Currently, she is a media columnist for the Washington Post. Earlier this year, she published a book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy.

According to excerpts of the book (such as this one from The Atlantic), Sullivan quotes McMurray about local coverage of his 2018 campaign against then-incumbent Chris Collins. As you may recall, Collins was under federal indictment -- charges he would eventually admit to -- for insider trading and lying to the FBI.

But in the more far-flung parts of the sprawling congressional district, voters were far less informed. The largely rural and suburban district includes Orleans County, which, according to Abernathy’s criteria, is a news desert—one of just a few in New York State.

“I’d be going door to door, or meeting with people at a diner or a fair, for example, and in the most isolated areas, a lot of people had no idea that their own congressman had been indicted,” McMurray told me. Orleans County, west of Rochester, he said, was “one of the toughest places.” Some people didn’t even know who Collins was, and many were incredulous when McMurray told them of the federal charges.

“People told me I was making it up,” said McMurray. That shouldn’t have been the case, given that television news stations in both Rochester and Buffalo were giving plenty of airtime to the scandal as it developed, and those stations were available throughout the district. Nevertheless, the constituents lacked access to the in-depth coverage that a newspaper would have provided. At one time, almost everyone in the district had ready access to print editions of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle or The Buffalo News, or were within easy reach of smaller newspapers in nearby Niagara Falls or Lockport.

This inaccurate take on the 2018 election was not only insulting to Tom Rivers, editor of Orleans Hub, but to me, as the publisher of The Batavian. I complained to The Atlantic, The Washington Post, which also Margaret Sullivan, first on Twitter, and then when she didn't respond, via email.

I believe these assertions are demonstrably, factually wrong. I believe corrections are in order -- and are still in order -- for the book, and these other august publications.

The Batavian reaches at least 70 percent of our market -- Genesee County -- every week. Our readership is 10,000 to 12,000 area residents per day. On a market-size-adjusted basis, the Buffalo News would love to reach as many people as The Batavian. In the past 10 years, we've published more than 900 items about the 27th district. While Jerry Zremski, of the Buffalo News, did Pulitizer-Prize-worthy work in uncovering the corruption of Chris Collins, an investigative enterprise, a publication like The Batavian could never hope to duplicate. I do believe our coverage after his indictment was as robust and thorough as any news publication in Western New York. And I know Tom Rivers covered the case thoroughly as well.

There is simply no way that one single voter in either Genesee or Orleans counties went to the polls in November 2018 without knowing Rep. Chris Collins stood accused of federal crimes.

I heard locally many times in 2018 that people would prefer to vote for a Republican accused of insider trading and lying to the FBI than vote for a Democrat, no matter how much that Democrat might admire Ronald Reagan.

I tried to make this clear to Sullivan. Still, her response was, "Nate McMurray was emphatic, in our interview, that he encountered a surprising number of people in some parts of the district (we specifically discussed Orleans) who weren't aware of Chris Collins' indictment. He tied this to news coverage."

In other words, if there were going to be any retraction of these bogus claims of misinformed voters, it would have to come from McMurray.

So I sent a text message to McMurray about his quote, and the conversation soon devolved into an argument about my journalism bona fides and how I had, in his view, capitulated to Caputo. He mentioned the "tape" again.

"You actually said that bro," after I accused him of lying about the substance (not the statement itself, as quoted above, but the meaning) of my comment, "and maybe I record all my calls."

It's evident to me that Nate McMurray, much like Donald Trump, will browbeat and bully reporters who won't genuflect at his feet. If the coverage isn't fawning, it's fake news. If the journalists report the truth, they're an enemy of the people. This is the mindset of the narcissist and the authoritarian. 

We saw it on public display when McMurray blasted the Buffalo News for reporting on his unhinged tweets attacking Democratic leadership.

Apparently, in McMurray's world, when the press cover's Trump deranged tweets, it's news. When the press covers McMurray's off-the-wall tweets, it's "gossip."

What set off McMurray this weekend was my response to one of his tweets about a campaign appearance in Batavia without appropriate notification to the local news outlets. 

So I tweeted, "Another politician avoiding the media."

It didn't take but seconds for McMurray, who seems to be obsessed with Twitter, to send me a text message, setting off another argument leading to another threat (screenshot at the top of this editorial). He claimed in the course of the argument that the event wasn't public, but the pictures show it took place at DeWitt Recreation Area. And he posted pictures about it on a public forum. To claim it was a private event is disingenuous. He used a public space and publicized it after the fact in an open forum.

In my jurisdiction, when a candidate for state or federal office makes a public appearance locally, the local media should be notified; otherwise, the candidate is merely dodging public scrutiny. That shouldn't happen in a democracy. In the age of Trump, it's all that much more important to cling to these democratic norms.

And for those who think I might just be picking on McMurray, earlier this month, we received a press release from Rep. Chris Jacobs about his tour of GCASA. While GCASA is essentially private property, the fact that Jacobs thought it public enough to issue a press release about it makes it clear, it was a public event.

The press should be informed of his visit. The fact no invites went out to local reporters is, to me, a clear indication Jacobs wishes to avoid any tough questions about his time, thus far, in office. I can assure you, Jacobs' staff heard a detailed complaint from The Batavian about this failure to inform the local media about his visit to a location in Genesee County.

The fact is, Nate McMurray and Donald Trump are more alike than McMurray will ever acknowledge. Both claim to be men of the people (I'm reminded of the song by The Blasters, Common Man) but are elitist -- Trump by his money (no matter how overstated his actual wealth) and McMurray by his big-corporation attorney pedigree. Both love the media limelight. Both use Twitter to cultivate devotees. Both are narcissists with authoritarian tendencies. Both blame others for their failings and never acknowledge their mistakes. Both attack reporters who dare to tell the truth about them or challenge them in any way.

If you're among those who support either of these men, fine. It's a free country. We don't cover Donald Trump, but we do cover the NY-27, as well as several other local political jurisdiction, and we want to make it clear, The Batavian won't be bullied by any politician. 

We've never been afraid of politicians. We weren't scared when Jane Corwin refused to answer questions about the conduct of her campaign. We weren't fearful of Kathy Hochul when her campaign misquoted our interview with Chris Collins. We didn't cower when Chris Collins ran away from our interview attempts.

If Nate McMurray thinks he can bully us in order to keep us covering him without fear or favor, this editorial should emphatically answer that question. He can't.

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The tweet that prompted Nate McMurray's most recent threat against The Batavian.

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McMurray misrepresenting the reason for our follow-up story about his being put on leave by Delaware North.

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The messages from McMurray after my tweet about him saying Jacobs refused an interview. Note, "Time to start calling you out bro" and "I got tape."

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: Here is McMurray's text message in response to this piece. He's also blocked me on Twitter.

img_efd1d873b9a9-1mcmurrayresponse.jpg

September 15, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Halloween, Public Health Director, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

halloween_2018_city.jpg

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s not banning door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween (Saturday, Oct. 31), “boys and ghouls” of all ages are being advised to take care to avoid a spread of the coronavirus to their neighbors.

“It is important to remember COVID-19 is still an issue locally and we are also starting flu season,” Public Health Director Paul Pettit said today. “With that in mind it is important to take the following precautions should you and your family choose to participate, barring any local or regional shutdowns of these activities:”

  • New York State is still under the nonessential gathering limits of no more than 50 people, this includes indoor and outdoor activities. This would apply to Halloween parties. Any size gatherings should still adhere to face covering/social distancing requirements.
  • Everyone participating in trick-or-treating should be wearing appropriate face covering that cover both the mouth and nose.
  • Limit the number of hands touching the treats. Make sure those who are handling the treats have carefully washed their hands or sanitized them before touching them. If you wear gloves, be careful not to use your gloved hands to touch other objects, your face, etc.
  • Frequently disinfect any objects that multiple hands may touch such as doorknobs, stair rails, doorbells/knockers, etc.
  • If you or your child/children are experiencing any symptoms – STAY HOME!
  • If you recently tested for COVID-19 or traveled from a restricted state/international travel – STAY HOME!

These are recommendations to help protect those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the flu, Pettit said, and are subject to change.

Specific to the City of Batavia, Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said that all trick-or-treating activities must wrap up by 9 o’clock on Halloween night.

City officials will be issuing a press release concerning safety guidance toward the end of October, he added.

Earlier today, Cuomo, in an interview with News 12 on Long Island, said he didn’t think it was “appropriate” for him to cancel trick-or-treating.

“If you want to go knock on your neighbor’s door, God bless you. If you want to go on a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t take your child through the neighborhood,” he said. “I’ll give you my advice and guidance, and then you’ll make the decision what you do that night.”

Previously, officials in Los Angeles banned trick-or-treating but then reversed their decision, choosing instead to say they don’t recommend it.

File photo of trick-or-treaters in the City of Batavia, 2018.

September 15, 2020 - 11:50am

The federal government is letting counties such as Genesee down by failing to “bridge” a gap in funding necessary to prevent a collapse of its infrastructure, Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said on Monday.

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, Hens said most of the county’s large bridges are in desperate need of repair – a situation that seems to have fallen upon deaf ears in Washington.

“We have roughly 100 federal aid bridges and they all have design lives on them of 50 to 75 years,” Hens said, noting that the majority of these spans were built in the 1940s, ‘50s and early ‘60s. “All at the same time, we’re getting slammed with 40 to 50 bridges that need to be replaced and we’re only getting funded for one or two every other year. There’s no way we’re going to keep up.”

Hens said federal money used to come in to do two bridges a year, and then it decreased to one per year. It’s even less frequent now.

“It’s extremely frustrating … we have pushed very, very hard (for funding) all the way up to the president,” he said, adding that he’s uncertain of the status of a bill currently in the Senate.

Genesee County, as is the case with other municipalities across the state, is in the midst of a serious financial crunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut things down in mid-March. The economy has started to recover, but sales tax revenue for the year is down and New York State has cut aid by 20 percent across the board.

Delays in federal funding for roads and bridges forced the county to have to pay “the full shot” (instead of the usual 5 percent) to replace a bridge on Stroh Road in Alexander, a cost of $1.8 million that was taken from the $7.5 million allocated for infrastructure after the sale of the county nursing home.

Hens said the county’s bridges are “getting worse,” advising that 48 of the 92 larger bridges (over 20 feet) are listed as deficient per state standards.

“Statewide, we are probably on the lower end of bridge conditions … and we’re definitely near the bottom of the list of counties in terms of the condition of our bridges,” he said.

Genesee County is responsible for all bridges in the county, an “an extra burden on us that most counties don’t have,” Hens said.

As he presented his departmental review, Hens said the large bridges showed nine “red flags” in 2020 – up from just two in 2019 – with two of those problems permanently corrected with the rehabilitation of bridges on Colby Road in Darien and McLernon Road in Bethany.

The county has 278 bridges of less than 20 feet, and 19 of the worst 30 have been replaced since 2016, including one this year.

Overall, keeping the roads up to snuff and performing preventative maintenance have become more challenging due to budget restraints and lack of funding, Hens said.

Along those lines, he said it is likely (pending negotiations with the employees’ union) that the county will switch to one-person snowplowing – instead of the usual two in the truck – to save money.

“The bottom line is that it seems like we keep kicking the can down the road relative to preventative maintenance and as anybody knows if you put off maintenance on your home, you’ll have bigger problems to deal with – and that’s where we’re headed with highways and bridges,” Hens said. “The continued budget cuts – we’re really out of options at this point. It’s kind of like which finger do you want to cut off your hand?”

He said that further cuts for highway will lead to dropping critical services such as driveway installations and ditching.

“There’s just nothing left to get rid of. Even if I was thinking about trying to privatize some of my department, you still have the maintenance and capital expense – there’s nothing left to cut, bottom line,” he said.

Hens’ 10-year capital plan shows expenditures for infrastructure and related expenses totaling $125 million.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg brought up the nursing home money and asked what the county’s share was when federal aid for infrastructure came into play.

Hens said that the county’s share is normally 5 percent, prompting Clattenburg to respond that 5 percent of $125 million was about $6 million – less than the $7.5 million in nursing home money.

“Where’s the crisis here?” she asked. To which Hens replied, “The crisis is the fact that we don’t always get federal aid. I usually program two federal aid bridges a year and we don’t always get that.”

Clattenburg then blamed federal lawmakers for putting the county in such a bind.

“We need to stop fighting each other and start thinking about real problems that people are having in Congress. We’re ready to go – we’ve been frugal. We put the money away so we can do this work, and now everything is stalled,” she said.

Legislator Andrew Young agreed, wondering, “Why they’re not talking about an infrastructure bill at the federal level? I don’t get it.”

Despite the financial woes, Hens said he is submitting a county road fund budget of $5,799,749 for 2021, within about $18,000 of the 2020 budget. The county’s general fund contributes more than $5.3 million of that amount.

He said the budget could increase by up to $50,000 if the Town of Bethany enters into a plowing and mowing agreement with the county for next year.

September 15, 2020 - 8:36am

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. is adamant that neither public speakers nor a petition signed by 161 residents will force the board’s hand when it comes to selecting a permanent replacement for City Manager Martin Moore, who left the position on June 20.

 “We’re going to do our due diligence – getting all the information necessary to make an informed decision,” said City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. following Monday night’s Business Meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

Since Moore’s departure, Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been serving as the acting city manager.

Council met in an executive session between a Special Conference Meeting and the Business Meeting last night to discuss personnel matters, with the city manager post at the top of the list.

Jankowski said Council is “gathering more information” and expects a decision of how it will proceed by its next meeting on Sept. 28.

In all likelihood, the choices boil down to interviewing Tabelski and offering her the job, or conducting a nationwide search – utilizing The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that was used in the search that resulted in the hiring of Moore in 2018.

Because Moore left prior to completing two years in Batavia, the Novak firm guaranteed a “free” search for his successor. However, that doesn’t include costs such as advertising in trade publications, expenses incurred to set up interviews (travel costs, for example) and potential moving expenses for the person hired.

It is believed that those additional costs could reach as high as $15,000 to $20,000.

Previously, Jankowski had reported that The Novak Consulting Group would be available to assist the city at the end of this month.

During the public comments portion of last night’s meeting, Batavians Sammy DiSalvo and John Roach spoke on the matter, coming from opposite sides of the fence.

DiSalvo said he supported a full search, pointing to what he called “nepotism” when Tabelski was appointed to the assistant city manager position in August 2018 while her husband, Adam, was a member of City Council.

“Regardless of whether her husband abstained from that vote or not, that is called nepotism,” he said.

“Now I want to fast forward to September 2020 … and this is the first time we’ve heard from any of you about Novak, the company that did the manager’s search, which you get a free search through if city manager left within two years, which he did,” he added.

“They said they could not start until the end of September. Hopefully, they do start that search and you go down that road, rather than just appointing somebody that was appointed while her husband was in a position of power. I don’t think that is really a way that city government should be functioning and that is not a good way to represent the people of Batavia …”

After expressing his dismay with changes in the City Deer Management Plan, DiSalvo ended his five minutes by producing a petition of what he said was 150 signatures (actually 161) of Batavians “who would like a full city search and do not want somebody who is appointed to the position by City Council.”

Next, Roach stepped to the podium, stating that “I take the opposite view on the hiring of the city manager.”

“I think it’s kind of embarrassing that the nine Council people – five of you haven’t been able to say as a majority – ‘Let’s make a decision.’ By now you should have been able to say in executive session, ‘OK, we’re going to go with the headhunter group or we’re going to hire the current assistant city manager,’ ” he said.

Roach then credited Tabelski for moving city business along.

“Obviously, she must be doing a good job,” he said. “The city is functioning well and I cannot for the life of me understand why you people still have to go into meetings to decide to make a plan to have a plan. Either hire her or say no, ‘you don’t cut it, we don’t want you’ – and let her start looking at alternatives. It can’t be that hard to say yes, you’re our choice, or you’re not.”

He also said he heard that a City Council member placed petitions in some businesses.

“I don’t know if that’s appropriate or not,” he said.

Finally, he mentioned Council’s handling of authorizing more pay for those who have took on added responsibilities in the absence of a permanent city manager.

“I’m also a little disappointed that the last time we didn’t have a city manager, everybody voted to give the other staff that were pitching in to do extra work, extra money. And they were all men,” he said. “This time, the same thing – we don’t have a manager and people need a little extra money for doing extra work, and some of you voted no, but they’re women. Coincidence or not? I’ll let you all respond.”

September 14, 2020 - 10:06pm

The path to passing a City of Batavia Deer Management Plant plan -- fraught with controversy, changes and a bit of confusion – became much clearer tonight when City Council approved a proposal giving its police department oversight of the operation.

By a vote of 6-2, Council endorsed an archery-only plan that puts management in the hands of police – understanding there will be overtime costs involved – and also allows only city employees to hunt on two parcels of city property and restricts hunting to antlerless-only deer in those two zones.

Council members Jeremy Karas, Patti Pacino, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, John Canale (who was the liaison to the Deer Management Plan Committee that resigned in protest of changes to the original plan on Aug. 13) and President Eugene Jankowski voted in favor of the plan. Council members Robert Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian voted against the plan.

It was Jankowski who introduced an amendment to prohibit the taking of deer with antlers on city property. That passed by a 7-1 count with McGinnis, who objected to the amount of time (about an hour) spent debating the pros and cons of the plan, abstaining.

Council Member Paul Viele was not in attendance.

Apparently taking the advice of Canale, who brought up the board’s history of “kicking the can down the road,” Council decided to adopt the plan and worry about implementation later, especially in light of the Batavia City School District’s “hybrid” schedule that has some students learning remotely from home.

“I don’t see what else there is to discuss,” said Canale, adding that the police department is more than capable of deciding whether it is safe for people to hunt in any of the five pre-determined zones. “It’s not like we’re sending out people into the woods on October 1st with bows and arrows” if the police deem that it’s not safe.

Jankowski said he agreed with Canale, urging his colleagues to “approve this and (then) the implementation is up in the air.”

“Personally, I don’t think it would have worked well for the volunteer (committee) to take on that kind of work,” Jankowski said.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he anticipates overtime charges of $4,000 to $5,000 annually, calling it a “conservative estimate depending upon the level of commitment.” He also said he will select an officer from the department to head the program.

Heubusch said he plans to reach out to Town of Irondequoit police officers, who run the program there, as well as talk to landowners in the three zones that aren’t city property, and attempt to get landowner agreements signed and set up the selection process.

“There’s a lot of work (to be done),” he said, noting that although the department is fully staffed, it isn’t at a point where he can take an officer off the road.

City Attorney George Van Nest reported that he has already spoken with people in Irondequoit, who indicated that the Monroe County town’s program “works well and is effective.” He also said state Department of Environmental Conservation officials support the “tweaks” made by him and Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

The most significant changes were moving oversight from the Deer Management Plan Committee to the police department, giving city employees exclusive rights to hunt on city property – eliminating members of the Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen – and, per tonight’s amendment, putting in a provision to cull antlerless-only deer on city property.

Jankowski said he received thirdhand information that someone saw a large buck on one of the properties and that “somebody has designs on those antlers.” His amendment, however, can not be enforced on land owned by private citizens who agree to participate in the plan to reduce the deer population.

Van Nest said a New York State hunting license gives hunters the authority to take a buck on private property.

Before the vote to pass or reject the amended plan, Bialkowski attempted to table the measure, stating that the latest plan (dated Sept. 14) was not presented in a Conference Meeting, it comes with increased costs and was subject to a review of the school’s scheduling.

“I’d like to refer it back to committee … back to a Conference Meeting,” he said.

Christian supported tabling it as well, with her comments indicating she thought the plan included hunting by guns along with bow and arrow.

That’s when Canale spoke up, noting that the Deer Management Plan Committee worked very hard and for a long time (eight months) to put together “a wonderful plan, working with (former City Manager) Dr. (Martin) Moore on the “meat and potatoes of the plan.”

He credited Tabelski for making necessary revisions.

“I don’t think kicking the can down the road will help us out,” he said. “Approve it tonight and implement it when it’s safe.”

As a result, a vote to table the plan was defeated by a 6-2 count with Bialkowski and Christian voting to table it.

The deer management plan subject came up right from the start of the Special Conference Meeting that preceded the Business Meeting where the resolution ultimately was approved.

Batavia residents Sammy DiSalvo, David Majewski and his son, Noah Majewski, spoke about the plan during the public comments portion of the agenda.

DiSalvo said he identified “at least 20 changes from the original proposal – at least five of which are entirely new.”

He said he took issue with “taking away power from people who are citizens and experienced hunters.”

“I am sure there are many police officers who do hunt and are very capable, but you are taking this away from people who have spent 50-60 years as the main thing that they do,” he said.

As far as private property is concerned, DiSalvo said that owners of the three non-city property areas have decided not to participate in the plan – something that took Council and city management by surprise.

“I find it suspicious that Mr. DiSalvo, whose father (Samuel) was on the deer committee, is saying that everybody but the city is not participating,” Jankowski said. “He’s making detailed responses about landowners that we don’t even know about yet.”

DiSalvo applauded the police department for the great job it does in law enforcement, but disagreed with putting the responsibility of the deer management plan upon the officers.

David Majewski said he was concerned about people coming on his son’s property (25 acres) off Alexander Road, which is adjacent to one of the city-owned parcels. He said his son manages the property for deer hunting, and is worried that deer remains left on his property would attract more coyotes to the area.

“I’m kind of curious as to why city employees will be allowed to hunt. There are plenty of other good hunters,” he said.

He said he was also concerned about liability and the possibility of a lawsuit should someone trespass onto his son’s land – which he uses for beaver trapping -- and suffer an injury.

Noah said he has encountered many people trespassing from city property onto his property.

“I’ve notified people in the City of Batavia building and nobody seems to care. They usually end up being friends of people,” he said.

He also mentioned liability and that he runs “nuisance beaver traps” with a nuisance beaver permit from the DEC. He said the traps are set around a swamp and he would hate to see someone step in one of those traps.

“I just feel like this is opening up a whole new can of worms to bring more people into an area that’s populated with people, that has people running around there," he said. "... and not knowing who’s going to be hunting back there or anything like that, it’s a big area of concern for me.”

September 14, 2020 - 5:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Robin Scott Brooks, 58, of Hutchins Place, Batavia is charged with first degree criminal nuisance. Brooks was arrested by the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force and the Batavia Police Department. It is alleged that at noon on June 30 on Hutchins Place that Brooks allowed people to sell narcotics out of his residence. In addition, Brooks allegedly received a benefit (money) from the people selling narcotics from his residence. He was issued a hand-written appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer James DeFreze.

Janel B. Patterson, 41, of Valle Drive, Batavia, is charged with issuing a bad check -- with knowledge of insufficient funds. Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis arrested Patterson on Sept. 8 on the charge, which stemmed from a fraud complaint on June 12, 2019, at Batavia Restaurant Supply Inc., 301 W. Main St., Batavia. After an investigation by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider allegedly found she issued a bad check, Patterson turned herself in on an arrest warrant and was arraigned in Batavia City Court. She is due back in court Oct. 27 to answer the charge.

Joseph W. Freeman, 36, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts each of criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and falsifying business records -- making a false entry. Freeman was arrested at 2 p.m. Sept. 10 after an investigation. It is alleged that he possessed property stolen from various stores on Veterans Memorial Drive in the Town of Batavia. Freeman was released with appearance tickets and is due in Batavia City Court Oct. 13. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush.

Eric J. McGill, 37, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. McGill was arrested after an incident at 7:53 p.m. Sept. 2 on Hutchins Street, Batavia, wherein he allegedly possessed an illegal billy (club) -- an expandable baton. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court Sept. 3 and released under supervision of Genesee Justice. He was due back in city court Sept. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Adam Tucker, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

Brandon T. Tackett, of Batavia, was arrested at 7:17 p.m. Sept. 3 on Miles Road in Bentleyville, Ohio, and charged with possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. Tackett and four Ohio residents were located in a parking lot after a report of a suspicious vehicle that had pulled into a driveway. Tackett is accused of possessing crystal methamphetamine. Bentleyville police report also finding in the red 2002 Chevy Malibu sedan a small blue case containing drug paraphernalia -- including a butane torch and a smoking pipe with tube, scales, cash, and prepaid gift cards. Tackett was transported to Bedford Jail.

Mario Alberto Reyes, 48, of Groth Road, Holley, is charged with: two counts of driving while intoxicated; operating a motor vehicle without a license; and moving from lane unsafely. At 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 13 on Clinton Street Road in Stafford, Reyes was arrested after a traffic stop. He was released with appearance tickets and is due in Stafford Town Court on Oct. 6. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Alejandro, assisted by Deputy Austin Heberlein.

Ralph Andrew Burdick Sr., 63, of Kysorville-Byersville Road, Nunda, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. He was arrested at 5:09 p.m. Sept. 11 on Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia for allegedly possessing a bottle of pills inside his vehicle without having a prescription for them. Burdick was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court and is due there Oct. 22. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Gauthier, assisted by Sgt. Andrew Hale.

Quentin I. Bloom, 22, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. Bloom was arrested Sept. 9 following an investigation into an incident that occurred at 3:34 a.m. on Aug. 23. He allegedly contacted a protected party who had an order of protection from him. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Hezekiah N. Burch, 18, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with second degree criminal contempt for allegedly disobeying a court order. On Sept. 7, Batavia Police Officer Peter Post arrested Burch after an investigation of an allegation that Burch had contact with a person on Hutchins Place, Batavia, who had an order of protection against him. Burch was issued an appearance ticket for Nov. 11 in Batavia City Court. Post was assisted by Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Christopher Allen Sewar, 33, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of disobeying a judge's court mandate. He was arrested at 9:18 a.m. on Sept. 7 after an investigation of a violation of a court order by allegedly initiating contact with a protected party on Maple Street in Batavia on Aug. 25 and with violating the order on Aug. 23 on South Spruce Street, Batavia. He was released on appearance tickets and is due in Batavia City Court Dec. 8. The cases were handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens.

Lisa M. Babcock, 33, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. At about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 9, Babcock was issued an appearance ticket for Batavia City Court, where she is due on Dec. 8. She was arrested after she allegedly failed to appear in court Aug. 18 after being served with a subpoena. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer John Gombos, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

September 14, 2020 - 3:15pm

Eight of the 20 "resident" members of the City Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group are diverse Batavians who say they desire to build a bridge between citizens and law enforcement that will lead to a safe and healthy community for all.

“Obviously, there’s a problem going on with police in America so I want to be a part of the solution, starting with that, if I can be,” said Brandon Armstrong, owner of Royal’s Barber Shop at 56 Harvester Ave. “And other than that, I pretty much want to help out in the community to make sure they’re (police) doing their part and to make sure the community is safe.”

Armstrong, one of three members of Just Kings Social Club, a local organization formed to foster equality and racial justice, also brought up the issue of respect.

“I want to make sure we’re being treated properly and we’re not living as if we’re in a prison or living in fear in our own hometown,” he offered. “I just want to be a little more comfortable.”

Francis Marchese, a semi-retired certified public accountant, said he is eager to see what comes out of the group discussions. The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at City Centre Council Chambers.

“I have lived in Batavia all my life and I feel that I will be able to help format a better condition for the City of Batavia and for the people who live here – that my voice may be heard,” he said. “I want to listen to what the group has to say … a group made up of people of different nationalities and to see what their consensus is and to see what they really want to accomplish.”

Marchese acknowledged “a lot of injustice in cities … but I also feel that no matter what the people department does, (the perception is that) they’re in the wrong – and that’s not right either.”

Victor Thomas, an employee of Western New York Concrete and Just Kings member, said he wants to be involved in “something that could help my community” and is pleased that the committee includes several citizens and not just law enforcement or government and civic officials.

“It’s a great place to start,” he said. “I hope to get a better understanding of how police officers view something and to bring issues to them that they may or may not be aware of. It’s definitely a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”

For Raelene Christian, a retired NYS employee, the advisory group could be a way to restore community policing the way that her mother, City Council member Rose Mary Christian, remembers it.

“I believe that our police in our nation are being vilified, but the vast majority are good, hard-working people who just want to do their jobs … to serve and protect. Of course, there are bad officers, so I’m not saying there isn’t room for community policing,” she said. “In the old days, my mother knew all of the police officers. So, how do we get back there? Today, there is a lot of mistrust.”

Bill Hayes, owner Turnbull Heating & Air and active community member, said serving on the advisory group is a way that he can “give back to the county and city that have been very good to me” over the past 30 years.

“When I was in the service, there was no black, white, Hispanic – everybody mattered and we need to believe that in order to stand by it,” he said. “There are three stories to be told, and the third one is what are you going to do about it?”

He said that he is there for people to lean on, if necessary, and to hear others’ viewpoints.

“Hopefully, I can help. If not, I’ll leave the board,” he said. “I didn’t sign up to just be on another committee.”

Establishing a rapport with the police is vital to Gregory Munroe II, a Pioneer Credit Recovery employee and Just Kings representative.

“I am looking to learn how Batavia works and if something terrible (police action leading to tragedy) ever happened in Batavia -- and I sure hope it never does -- to make sure there is accountability,” he said. “I want see Batavia stay as safe as it is and even safer. It’s important to build the connection between police and the community.”

On having three Just Kings members in the group, he said the “city has embraced our group for the most part … and we’re heading in the right direction.”

Michael Henry, lifelong Batavian who works at the DePaul residence in Warsaw, said support and accountability go hand in hand.

“I want to know that the police are doing the best that they are capable of and have what they need to do their best, and also to make sure there is a measure of accountability,” he said.

The Batavian was unable to reach Bill Blackshear, who like Henry was added to the group earlier today.

Blackshear has spoken in favor of increased dialogue among different racial groups and law enforcement in the past, including a 2017 plea to City Council to act to bring citizens together “for a better communication and a better understanding of each other.”

September 14, 2020 - 11:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in school boards, news, education, notify.

In 2018, The Batavian reported on school district policies that prohibited school board members from talking to the public about their individual views on school district policy.

In 2020, only one superintendent -- Mickey Edwards in Byron-Bergen -- informed us that only the superintendent was authorized to speak to reporters about district issues and that any statements from board members needed his approval. If we sought their individual views, they could speak as private citizens but he informed us he didn't have their private email addresses. We issued a FOIL request for their district email addresses, which we received.

Though only one superintendent attempted to claim to be the gatekeeper for school board statements this time around, the practice of school board members continuing to avoid public accountability for their position on policy issues is unabated in 2020.

We attempted to survey every school board member in Genesee County on their views related to school reopening in the age of coronavirus. Only two school board members out of 52 in the county responded with individual answers. Alice Ann Benedict, Batavia city schools, responded via email as requested. John Reigle answered the questions as part of an interview about his appointment as a trustee to Batavia city schools.

The school boards in Byron-Bergen, Le Roy, and Oakfield-Alabama provided group responses. John Cima, board president for Pembroke, provided a response that he said was made on behalf of the board.

We did not offer school boards the option of a group response but they did anyway.

We wonder how many teachers in Genesee County would give their students a failing grade for failure to follow instructions, turning an individual assignment into a group assignment?

There was no response whatsoever from Alexander, Elba, and Pavilion.

School board members are elected individually not as groups. The voting public has a right to know -- and every reason to expect -- what each individual school board member thinks about issues of public importance related to their school districts. The failure to be transparent -- and worse yet, forced group conformity -- deprives the public of a robust public debate, something essential in a healthy democracy, about important issues.

The requirement that the views of school board members go through a vetting process -- either superintendent approval or a homogenized group statement -- clearly violates the very idea of the First Amendment, depriving school board members of their right to speak freely and the press of its responsibility to accurately report on government policy.

This new strategy of a group response under the guise of "we speak with one voice" is no less noxious to the concept of a free and open society. It requires conformity and stifles dissent. It clearly sets up a chilling effect on free speech.

School board members will tell us they willingly go along with this "one voice" policy but we have no real idea which board members secretly feel their individual viewpoints are being unfairly kept from the public. "Individuality is fine as long as we all do it together," Frank Burns said in an episode of "M*A*S*H." That's long been the cry of the conformist in their discomfort with dissent. But good policies can't be fashioned without dissent and dissent can't be tested for its durability without healthy public debate.

These policies, as we saw and reported on in 2018, can even have a chilling effect on candidates for open seats in school board elections. How does a democracy continue to function when candidates for office refuse to answer questions for voters?

The Batavian will continue to press for school board members to be open and honest with the voters who elect them.

Responses to our questions:

Here is a list, by district, of elected officials who did not respond individually to our questions.

Batavia

  • Peter Cecere
  • Shawna Murphy
  • Tanni Bromley
  • Barbara Bowman
  • John Marucci

Alexander

  • Brian Paris
  • Molly Grimes
  • John Slenker
  • Sara Fernaays
  • Chris Mullen

Byron-Bergen

  • Debra List
  • Yvonne Ace-Wagoner
  • Kimberly Carlson
  • William Forsyth
  • Tammy Menzie
  • Amy Phillips
  • Jennifer VanValkenburg

Elba

  • Michael Augello
  • Michael Riner
  • Michael Hare
  • Dean Norton
  • Travis Torrey
  • Trisha Werth
  • Michael Zuber

Le Roy

  • Jacalyn Whiting 
  • Denise Duthe 
  • Christine Dowell 
  • Richard Lawrence  
  • Peter Loftus 
  • William MacKenzie 
  • Lloyd Miller

Oakfield-Alabama

  • Timothy Edgerton
  • Lorna Klotzbach
  • Matt Lamb
  • Justin Staebell
  • Jackie Yunker Davis
  • Pete Zeliff
  • Daniel Groth

Pavilion

  • Marirose Ethington
  • Jeff Finch
  • Margaret Gaston
  • Rebecca Dziekan
  • Kevin Stefan
  • Callin Ayers-Tillotson
  • Christopher Jeffres

Pembroke

  • John A. Cima
  • Heather Wood
  • Ed Levinstein
  • Dan Lang
  • Art Ianni
September 14, 2020 - 10:20am

The City of Batavia Police Department today announced the addition of two people in the “resident” category of its Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group, increasing the total number to 20.

Michael Henry and Bill Blackshear have been added to the committee, and will join residents Raelene Christian, Bill Hayes, Francis Marchese and Gregory Munroe II.

Others who have been selected are as follows:

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, Assistant Chief Chris Camp and Batavia Police Benevolent Association President Matt Wojtaszczyk;

Public Defender Jerry Ader and First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell;

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, City Council Member Kathleen Briggs and City Attorney George Van Nest;

Batavia City School Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper, Batavia Housing Authority Director Nathan Varland;

Business owner Brandon Armstrong, Just Kings representative Victor Thomas and Rev. Martin Macdonald, City Church pastor.

Jay Gsell and Erik Fix have been appointed as facilitators/moderators.

The group has been formed in compliance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 203 on police reform.

It is charged with reviewing police policies and procedures, and adopting a plan that addresses, per the mandate, “the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”

The advisory group’s first meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 at the City Centre Council Chambers. All COVID-19 protocols will be in effect.

The governor’s executive order stipulates that municipalities must adopt a plan and submit it to the state by April 1 to be eligible for future state funding.

September 12, 2020 - 9:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, notify, town of batavia.

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A fully involved structure fire is reported at 8699 Hartshorn Road, Town of Batavia. East Pembroke Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Corfu, Town of Batavia, Alexander and Darien.

An occupant is believed to be trapped inside, according to neighbors. The location is between West Main Street Road and Pearl Street Road.

UPDATE 9:34 p.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 9:37 p.m.: The trapped resident has been removed and is being evaluated by medics.

UPDATE 9:42 p.m.: Fire knocked down; doing overhaul. Alexander fire can go back in service. Alexander's ambulance is going to evaluate the patient.

UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: GC Emergency Management Services asks Byron and Bethany ambulances to stand by in their quarters.

UPDATE 9:58 p.m.: The Alexander ambulance, with a Mercy medic on board, is transporting a patient to UMMC. A Mercy ambulance that just went in service is requested to the scene for firefighter rehab.

UPDATE 11:18 p.m.: Bethany and Byron ambulances can go back in service.

UPDATE 1:15 a.m., Sept. 13: A quick knockdown of a fire that appeared to be on the exterior of the house was the reason volunteer firefighters from East Pembroke and Batavia were able to rescue an elderly woman from her home on Hartshorn Road on Saturday night.

"I just can't be more proud of these guys right now," said Don Newton, chief of East Pembroke. "They got in there and did a great job of knocking it down and between our guys and the Town of Batavia, they just did a hell of a job getting her out of the house."

Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator for Genesee County, said the preliminary indication is that the fire started on the outside of the house near an electrical outlet but at this point, no cause of the fire has been determined and nothing has been ruled out.  

"I wouldn't say we're really leaning towards anything," Yaeger said. "We're just going to we have to actually look at every possibility. It's going to be a while for this investigation. Again, it's fairly rare to have a fire in outside on a porch so it's going to take some time to find out what exactly caused the fire."

East Pembroke fire is still on scene at this hour though some mutual aid companies are back in service.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: East Pembroke Fire is responding to a rekindle at the residence. Smoke is coming from the roof line.

Photos and interviews by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

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September 12, 2020 - 8:39am

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The performers are patiently waiting in the wings as, slowly but surely, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project known as Main Street 56 Theater moves forward.

Project Manager David Ciurzynski of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, of Attica, on Friday said the preliminary design work has been delayed by the coronavirus but, if everything breaks right, the theater will be able to open its doors to the public next summer.

“We’re trying to finalize the design that got held up a bit because of the COVID-19 requirements – (as we’re) looking to design it in a way that is flexible for social distancing,” Ciurzynski said. “And we’re also still looking for people for financing – to solidify that.”

He said the demolition work is almost done.

“The area is pretty cleared out, and ready to build,” he said, noting that the 11,000-square-foot facility will feature a dance studio, theater that seats 150, offices and storage rooms.

It will be located at 35 City Centre -- in space formerly used by the Dent Neurological Clinic office, between Genesee Dental and The Insurance Center.

Ciurzynski said that Batavia Players, the not-for-profit organization operating the theater, has hired Thompson Builds of Churchville as the general contractor. Thompson Builds has done extensive work in Genesee County, including construction of a new Town of Batavia firehall off Clinton Street that is happening now.

“We’re going to start, hopefully, in a couple months on the dance studio and then the theater after that,” Ciurzynski said. “We are waiting on some of our first reimbursements from the DRI for the work that we’ve done so far – we have to wait for the Department of State on that. But, hopefully, in the next month or so, we’ll be able to get some money from the state so we can keep things moving.”

He said the timetable has “the meat” of construction taking place in late winter and early spring.

“We’re trying to get through all of the pandemic requirements and making sure we have space for social distancing, and it’s a kind of reimburse-as-you go-along with the Department of State,” he offered.

The project is one of several awarded to the City of Batavia as part of the state’s $10 million DRI.

Since the total project cost is estimated at $910,000 and the DRI award for the theater is $701,750, fundraising will come into play, Ciurzynski said.

“Batavia Players will have to raise the difference, and will have to rely on the community to help them with that,” Ciurzynski said, advising that various fundraising efforts are underway.

Patrick Burk, president of Batavia Players, said the troupe is in the process of closing down its current location at the Batavia Industrial Center on Harvester Avenue.

“We will be reopening a new office and bringing in a bunch of new volunteers to assist state and local government officials on the project,” he said.

Batavia Development Corporation Director Andrew Maguire said the theater project aligns with the city’s “All In” effort which, in part, focuses on fostering arts and entertainment and cultural appreciation Downtown.

Renderings provided by David Ciurzynski, Ciurzynski Consulting LLC.

September 11, 2020 - 5:36pm

The roster of an 18-member City of Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group is complete and the task of formulating a plan to coincide with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 203 on police reform will begin in a couple weeks.

The Batavia Police Department today issued a press release indicating that the selection process has been finalized, and that the first meeting of the committee will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at the City Centre Council Chambers.

The meeting is open to the public, with all COVID-19 protocols in effect, Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

Per the governor’s Executive Order, “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative,” municipal police departments must adopt a plan by April 1 to be eligible for future state funding.

Members of the advisory group are as follows:

  • Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski;
  • Police Chief Shawn Heubusch;
  • Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp;
  • City Attorney George Van Nest;
  • City Council Member Kathleen Briggs;
  • Just Kings representative Victor Thomas;
  • Citizen representatives Raelene Christian, Bill Hayes, Francis Marchese, Gregory Munroe II;
  • Batavia Housing Authority Director Nathan Varland;
  • YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy;
  • First District Attorney Kevin Finnell;
  • Public Defender Jerry Ader;
  • Batavia Police Benevolent Association President Matt Wojtaszczyk;
  • Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.;
  • Business leader Brandon Armstrong;
  • Rev. Martin Macdonald, City Church.

The press release notes that “other industry experts have been invited to attend the meetings and participate to assist the group in developing the plan.”

They are the Genesee County Department of Social Services, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Genesee County Mental Health Services, Lake Plains Community Care, RESTORE Sexual Assault Services, City of Batavia Youth Center and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Center.

Jay Gsell and Erik Fix have been appointed as facilitators/moderators.

“We look forward to positive dialogue that will bring this community closer together and foster positive relationships between those we serve and the stakeholders in the community,” Heubusch said.

Cuomo’s Executive Order includes wording that stakeholders should include “but not (be) limited to membership and leadership of the local police force, members of the community with emphasis in areas with high numbers of police and community interactions, interested nonprofit and faith-based community groups, local office of the district attorney, local public defender and local elected officials.”

Tabelski said the stakeholder group will meet on a regular basis to help identify recommendations for more effective strategies, policies, and procedures to better serve all residents within the City of Batavia.

The Sept. 24 meeting agenda includes a review of the Executive Order, presentation by the Batavia Police Department focusing on the evolution of policing, current operations and its policy manual, and a discussion of the police agency’s Policy 300 -- Use of Force.

The three other Genesee County police agencies affected by the Executive Order are at various stages.

Genesee County Sheriff’s Department

Sheriff William Sheron and Manager Matt Landers said the county will be ready to move forward once the renewal of the department’s New York State accreditation is finalized. A review of the sheriff’s office accreditation status is set for the end of the week.

Sheron said that having accreditation status means that “some of the requirements in the governor’s order have already been met.”

“We have a sincere interest in getting public input and involvement,” Sheron said, pointing out the high level of cooperation among county agencies. “We all adhere to the same standards of excellence.”

Landers said that he will be meeting with Sheron and Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein in the near future to put together a plan, following the governor’s guidelines.

“We are ready to move forward,” he said. “We have been waiting until the sheriff’s office goes through the accreditation process.”

Le Roy Police Department

Village of Le Roy Police Chief Chris Hayward said the subject will be discussed at the next Village Board meeting on Sept. 16.

He said the small size of the community could present a challenge as far as filling all of the “slots” outlined in the Executive Order.

“What he is asking us to do is to draft a plan that makes the best sense for our community – it’s a little bit difficult to do that when you may have to bring people in from outside of the community to participate in the process, who may or may not have a lot of knowledge of what goes on in Le Roy,” he explained.

Still, Hayward said his goal is to have a plan in place before he retires on Jan. 8, ending 36 years of service – including the past 18 as police chief.

Corfu Police Department

Village of Corfu Mayor Thomas Sargent said he plans to discuss the Executive Order with the village board in the near future.

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