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Rose Mary Christian

Schmidt sworn in as city's Sixth Ward council member

By Mike Pettinella


Tammy Schmidt received an enthusiastic endorsement from her predecessor tonight as she was sworn in as the Batavia City Council's Sixth Ward representative.

"I'm here on behalf of Tammy Schmidt, who will do an outstanding job for the Sixth Ward," said Rose Mary Christian, who stepped down last month after nearly 30 years as a city lawmaker. "She's articulate ... and certainly knows lthe budget process (as Schmidt works in the financial management field). I want to thank her for taking my position."

The appointment of Schmidt through the end of next year was reported first on The Batavian.

Photo: City Clerk/Treasurer Heidi Parker, right, swears in Tammy Schmidt as Rose Mary Christian and City Republican Committee Chair Rich Richmond look on. Schmidt was unanimously approved by City Council prior to the board's Conference and Business Meetings. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

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

Video: Rose Mary Christian ends 30 years of service to the City of Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
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After 30 years of service to the City of Batavia and its residents, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian retired Monday with a reception in her honor before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting. 

At the start of the meeting, she was presented with proclamations recognizing her service.

Photos and captions by Mike Pettinella.



Council members Kathleen Briggs and Eugene Jankowski Jr. present a proclamation to Christian, signifying her as an "advocate who had the best interests of the City of Batavia at heart."


Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein is joined by legislators Marianne Clattenburg, John Deleo and Gary Maha as the county honored Rose Mary Christian for her dedicated service. Those in attendance, including two of Christian's daughters and a grandson, chuckled on a few occasions when Stein referred to her as Mary Rose while reading the proclamation. Rose Mary is seated at left with her daughter, Raelene, and Ron Gibble.


Assemblyman Steven Hawley, before reading a proclamation that highlighted Christian's "faithful, conscientious and valuable service to the City of Batavia," compared Christian to former legislator Florence Gioia as someone "who believes in folks" and wanted to do all she could to help her neighbors.

Republicans say Charter is clear; Democrats beg to differ

By Mike Pettinella

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

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

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

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

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

Richmond: Charter is Very Clear

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

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

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

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

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

DiSalvo: Time Frame Isn’t Specified

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewriting of Charter May Be in Order

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

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

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

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

Reason for Changing Affiliations

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

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

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

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

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

By Mike Pettinella


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

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

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

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

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

For the record, the City Charter reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose Mary Christian nears end of nearly 30-year run on City Council; farewell party, proclamation set for Nov. 22

By Mike Pettinella


Depending upon the closing date of the home that she and her daughter, Raelene, have purchased on Holmes Avenue, Rose Mary Christian is about to close the door on a nearly 30-year career as a member of the Batavia City Council.

Because Christian (in file photo above) is moving from her Williams Street home of 22 years in the Sixth Ward, which she represents, to the First Ward, she will be ineligible to continue on the governing body.

“I would think that we will close on the house within a month,” she said earlier this evening.

If the transaction is finalized before Council’s next meeting on Nov. 8 and Christian is in her new residence, it would mean that Monday night’s meeting was her final hurrah.

During her tenure, she was known for her willingness to speak her mind – ruffling feathers along the way – and fought valiantly to keep taxes down and for her constituents in the Sixth Ward.

The Sixth Ward covers the area south of Main Street and east of Liberty Street, extending to the Genesee County Fairgrounds on East Main Street.

Christian said she will miss the interaction with the residents and her colleagues.

“You know what I’m going to miss is the people in this ward. Am I going to miss Council? Yeah, I’m going to miss some of those people – quite a bit,” she said. “I might have not been able to override them that many times, but I gave it my best. I voted what I believe, you bet I did. And if I voted for four budgets, that’s saying a lot.”

According to the City Charter, someone will have to be appointed to replace Christian and complete her term, which is up for election in two more years, she said,

Christian switched affiliations from Democrat to Republican about 18 months ago, and thinks that could be an issue.

“There will be a problem with it because of the fact that I was a Democrat when I won the last election – and that was my eighth term to be elected,” she said, noting that she served the community for 29 ¾ years.

A check of the City Charter, Chapter 3, Section 3, reads as follows:

“Vacancies in the office of Council member shall be filled by election for the remainder of the unexpired term at the next general election occurring not less than 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. Such election to fill a vacancy where it occurs after the last day to file nominating petitions for the primary election shall be filled upon nominations made in the manner provided by law for the filling of vacancies in primary nominations occurring after the primary election.

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

"In the event that Council shall fail to appoint within 30 days after the vacancy, such appointment must be made by the Council President. This appointment must be made within 10 days under the same conditions as to political affiliation and residency noted in the paragraph above."

Going by the paragraph in boldface -- but yet to be confirmed by the city attorney, City Republicans would make the appointment since Christian now is a registered Republican.

Christian said that city leaders have scheduled a farewell party for her on Nov. 22 at City Hall Council Board Room. At the conclusion of that event, which runs from 5:15 to 7 p.m., City Council will present her with a proclamation in recognition of her service.

Rose Mary Christian suggests trustees reduce salaries to cut school spending

By Howard B. Owens


Sixth Ward Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian spoke up Monday at the city schools board of trustees meeting on behalf, she said, of her constituents, decrying the high cost of education in an age of tighter household budgets.

"I really don't have any solution," Christian said near the end of her remarks. "I'm asking you to seriously think about the people who live in this community and are having a hard time right now."

She noted that assessments have gone up throughout the city and that is putting more of a squeeze on some households.

She asked if the board considered reducing salaries for teachers and other staff members.

"Everything is escalating and it's hurting everyone, even you," she said.

She also asked that Sacred Heart once again be used as a polling station in school district elections.

On May 8, voters will chose among four candidates for three positions on the school board and whether to approve a $661 spending plan for the district for 2021-22, an increase of $625,935 from the current year.

The proposed tax levy (the aggregated of all property taxes collected in the school tax) is $19,493,958, exactly as it is in the current year.  

State and federal aid covers most of the rest of the district's spending.

Photo: Still from video of Monday's meeting.

Council Member Christian objects to proposal to defer ice rink payments; supports YMCA running youth program

By Mike Pettinella

Anyone who follows the activities of the Batavia City Council is fully aware of the fact that longtime Council Member Rose Mary Christian – in her unique brusque and outspoken style – strongly advocates for her Sixth Ward (the Southside), fully supports the city’s police and fire department, and constantly looks out for the taxpayer.

On Wednesday, she contacted The Batavian to share her views on a few items currently on Council’s docket, starting with the management situation at the Batavia Ice Rink on Evans Street.

Christian said she is not on board with a recommendation before the city’s governing body to allow Firland Management, the company that operates the rink, to make a lease payment nine months after the original due date and to contribute a reduced amount to the rink’s capital improvement fund.

Council, at Monday night’s Conference Meeting, agreed to forward the proposal to its March 8th Business Meeting for a formal vote.

A memo from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski to Council spells out a reworking and extension of the lease agreement with Firland, reducing and deferring the firm’s payments due to the impact of COVID-19 upon its bottom line in 2020. The rink was closed for most of the year and just recently has welcomed back youth league and high school hockey teams.

Christian said she doesn’t buy that reasoning.

“There are numerous businesses in the City of Batavia that are hurting,” she said. “Are we going to defer anything for them – property taxes, school taxes, anything? I don’t think so, and that’s why I’m not voting for the resolution coming in two weeks.”

Tabelski, through negotiations with Firland, introduced a plan to let Firland make its next lease payment of $25,000 on Jan. 1, 2022 instead of the current due date of March 1, 2021, and also to reduce its contribution to the rink’s capital fund for 2020-21 from $32,958.30 to $5,000.

She also is proposing to extend the contract from its current ending date of March 31, 2021 for two years through March 2023.

Therefore, Firland’s lease payments will be $20,000 annually for 2021-22 and 2022-23 and its capital fund contribution will be $5,000 annually for the next two fiscal years.

Christian said the city has seen its revenue decline and, noting the costs involved with maintaining the rink, feels it would be unwise to go this route.

“Rachael sent me an email stating that the annual cost for keeping the refrigeration system at the rink is $11,500, and the city pays for that,” Christian said. “So, in reality, taxpayer money is used to cover that expense.”

Tabelski explained that the intent of the lease and capital payments (paid to the city by Firland) covers the costs of maintenance at the facility and contributes to the Ice Rink Reserve for Capital Improvements.

The city currently has $370,000 in ice rink reserves. If the refrigeration system was to fail, it could cost up to $750,000 to purchase and install a new one.

“That’s a far cry if it comes to $700,000 and we have to replace it,” Christian said. “And that becomes another burden upon city taxpayers.”

In a story posted on The Batavian on Tuesday, Tabelski suggested the manager’s office – within a year or so -- conduct an analysis and study, and present a strategy to Council “with the goal of bringing it back to full capacity and to potentially attract a buyer.”

Christian said she hopes someone or an organization would purchase the facility.

“We do not belong in business. I, myself, would like to privatize that all the way so someone can own it and take care of the responsibility,” she said. “Not every child in Batavia is afforded that ice rink. They can’t afford the fees charged to play hockey; it’s just the elite.”

Christian sounded off on a couple of other recent City Council agenda items:

-- On having vacant public safety positions in the 2021-22 budget:

“I’m sorry that we have to not fill a couple positions with the police department and the fire department. Safety is my No. 1 concern,” she said.

Christian said city funds used to support the Batavia Development Corp. should go back into the general fund, and potentially could be used to hire public safety personnel.

Tabelski, in response to an email from The Batavian, stated that the city is paying $95,000 to the BDC this year – down from the usual amount of $110,000 -- “via an agreement that was established years ago to provide economic development services in the City.”

She explained that the BDC is a public authority and has its own budget and operating costs, and can bring in its own revenue at times from grants, project fees or real estate sales. Recently, the entity has been successful in obtaining New York Main Street grants and money from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative for several building renovation projects in the city.

The BDC employs a full-time director of economic development at a current salary of $65,000.

Christian said the corporation should be at a point where it can sustain itself.

“Do you know where that salary belongs? It belongs with the BDC. They should be paying for it,” she said.

-- On the strong possibility that the city will contract with the Genesee Area Family YMCA for its after-school and summer recreation programs:

“I’m happy that (District Executive Director) Jeff Townsend is going to be in charge of it for the YMCA. I think they are going to do an outstanding job for the kids,” she said.

Christian said the $1,100 rent payment to City Church for the use of the Liberty Center for Youth (the former St. Anthony’s School building) on Liberty Street is fair.

“It’s a good fee for that building. It will serve the kids well and also it will be used on Tuesday nights for their open gymnasium.”

Christian cancels planned march in support of law enforcement

By Howard B. Owens

Via The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

That proposed rally behind police everywhere announced by Ward Six Batavia Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian for Saturday night in Downtown Batavia has been called off. Christian told WBTA news this morning she had talked with some law enforcement officials who said it was the right idea but the wrong time. Councilwoman Christian says as a politician and a citizen she supports all law enforcement officers. Earlier she had said she is disgusted by the disregard for law enforcement that became evident in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere in recent weeks.

Rose Mary Christian plans march in support of police officers to counter Ferguson protests

By Howard B. Owens

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian sees all the protests on TV from around the country of people with hands up and thinks the protesters are being unfair to cops.

"The police risk their lives every day," Christian said. "It's not an easy job and we all know that, that's why I'm standing up for them."

Christian is calling on those in the community who support law enforcement to join her at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Saturday for a march down Main Street.

"I'm looking to support our law enforcement," Christian said. "I think it's tragic what's happened all over the United States. I think they need our support and to know that we're behind them."

She thinks the Ferguson, Mo., protests are misguided in their complaints about police officers.

"It's not about race, number one," Christian said. "They're using it for a civil (rights) movement and it's not. The fact is you protest, you protest in an orderly fashion. What did they accomplish by burning down business and having all the destruction they've had? Looting stores, what did that accomplish? What did that accomplish? Nothing! OK."

City Council at Large Candidate Questions for Incumbent Rose Mary Christian - For The People

By Bonnie Marrocco

There's a lot of concern from city residents about activities on Jackson and State Street. Do you consider those streets problem areas and if so, what should be done about them?

Yes those two streets have problems. The landlords should have the powers to evict tenants that are causing the problems. The neighborhood should be vigilant to what is happening and contact our police department right away. People do not need to give a name if, they do it can stay confidential.

What level of code enforcement do you favor to deal with seemingly problem properties?

I believe our inspection department handles complaints all the time and do a great job by enforcement with these properties. I believe the tenant and the landlord should have to appear in court if the situation does not change.

How should garbage collection be handled in Batavia?

I think the garbage deal is totally over and people should move on. I have received but two complaints and that is because, the collector has not covered the back of the truck.

What should be the city's role in economic and job development be in Batavia?

I feel as if our city has applied for many grants and economic development has done a great job. I look forward to the Carr’s building being renovated; it’s been long over do. We certainly need more industry and business in the downtown area.

If the choice came down to either A) raising taxes and maintaining the city's own police department and/or fire department; or, B) consolidating police protection with the city or going to some form of volunteer fire department, which option would you choose?

This is really a tough question because; many factors are to be considered. Safety and cost, location are the major factors. I don’t want an increase in taxes and location would be another factor, cost to the property owners would possibly be another burden on them. Consolidating the police and fire department with volunteer could be an option but safety factors would really have to be considered. What would the cost savings really be?

Are you satisfied with how the city is run? Are there changes you would like to make? If you were going to change one thing about how the city operates, what would it be?

All city employees should live in the city. (Other cities make their employees live in the city that pay their salaries, give them benefits, pensions and retirement). City taxes, school and county would decrease if all employees live in the city.

Why have you decided to run for City Council and why should people vote for you?

I have had many people call me for assistance but I could only give the name of the person from that ward to help them. If elected I would be able to help them right away. I serve the sixth ward now and love it. I tell it the way it is and, not sugar coat it. May God bless America.

Rose Mary Christian reopens diner on Ellicott Street Road this Monday

By Howard B. Owens

Rose Mary Christian thought she would be retired these days, but she can't quite get away from the restaurant business.

She admits, she loves it.

In 1956, her father -- with the help of Carl Dilcher and George Jacobs -- built a diner on Ellicott Street Road near Shepard and Christian. Along with her eight brothers and sisters, she worked there for much of her young life.

The diner closed in 1965, but Christian opened it again -- with her four children -- in 1983.

"We used to have good times and you hear people reminisce about the old days," Christian said. "Hot dogs were 25 cents when my dad started and milk shakes were 50 cents. Now what’s a hot dog and what’s a milk shake? There’s a big difference."

Christian closed the diner in 2003, and then new owners took it over for a time more than a year ago, but eight months ago, that diner closed.

On Monday, the diner opens again as "Rosie's."

"I hope people drive out and see the restaurant and taste what we have to offer," Christian said. "I hope they just have a good day and a good experience coming here. Like I said, this is where good people meet."

The diner's menu, among regular diner fare, will include Italian and Polish dishes and homemade soup.

“We’re going to have a quarter-pound hot dog, like they have in New York City, that I love," Christian said. "It’s going to have mustard and sauerkraut on it. It’s delicious. You’ll have to try it."

Christian noted there aren't many dining establishments on the southeast side of town, plus there will likely be a road connecting the new ag park to Cedar Street, making it easier for workers there to get onto Ellicott Street. That could be the opening in the market she needs to be successful.

Asked if not just her history in the restaurant business, but her career in city politics would help attract customers to Rosie's, Christian laughed.

"The politics part of it," she said, "no, not at all."

Christian comes back from meeting in Albany even more opposed to consolidation

By Howard B. Owens

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian believes she has new evidence to feed her opposition to consolidation between the town and the city.

Christian and colleague Patti Pacino recently attended New York Conference of Mayors' Winter Legislative Meeting in Albany.

She says she heard horror stories about how consolidation is going in other municipal jurisdictions.

She said lawsuits and fees are skyrocketing.

From WBTA:

"One of the areas is with the fire department: volunteer versus paid. And now the volunteers want to get paid," Christian says. "The other one was the (village) police department, and where their jurisdiction is going to stop. Are they going into the town?"

Christian says Seneca Falls was one of the only approved consolidations in New York State. Municipalities almost everywhere else have voted it down. Christian says those votes have been very lopsided, and she believes it would be the same way here -- based on what she's heard about the town.

"So obviously they have to work everything out in our area," she says, "before they even consider putting this forth."

Christian says there’s a much better alternative.

"You can have shared services, without doing any of this," she says.

Complaints about sex offender in neighborhood prompts councilwoman to raise concerns

By Billie Owens

Rose Mary Christian is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore, at least not if she has anything to say about allowing registered sex offenders to live a block away from an elementary school, and just a few doors down from a church.

At the end of tonight's 25-minute session of the Batavia City Council, she announced there would be a public forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 16 to discuss the issue of registered sex offenders in the city. It will be a question-and-answer with Police Chief Randy Baker and Det. Rich Schauf, held at the police station.

She says she's received a number of calls and an anonymous letter regarding Charles H. Wroten, who lives at 214 S. Swan St., upper. Some nearby residents want him gone and they want to know what can and can't be done in this regard.

Christian asked the city attorney to look into the zoning laws concerning registered sex offenders.

"As far as I know there's not much we can do about it," Christian said, adding that she spoke with the landlady about her tenant and the woman did not seem amenable to kicking Wroten out without cause.

Can they put up lawn signs saying "Charlie Wroten must go"? or how about a banner that says "A convicted rapist lives here and he needs to get out ASAP"? And on and on.

"Landlords should have it on the contract...ask whether they've ever been arrested," Christian said, at least they'd know whether the person lied and broke the contract.

She claims there are 161 "sick" registered sex offenders countywide and 150,000 in the state.

As for Wroten, he couldn't be reached for comment. The lights were on in his nondescript white, two-story duplex unit. The door was open, but the glass outer door was locked. No one answered the loud knock at 8:45 p.m.

His crime is public record, easily available online. He is described as a bald, black male, 245 pounds, 6 feet tall, born Feb. 16, 1961. He was convicted, at age 38, on May 17, 2000 of rape in the 3rd degree of a 15-year-old girl. It is a Level 3 offense, the highest level for such a felony. He was sentenced to 18 months to three years and Christian said he served 18 months.

Christian brought up the highly publicized California case of high school senior Chelsea King who was raped, murdered and found March 2 buried in a shallow grave along Lake Hodges in North San Diego County. The DNA of convicted rapist John Albert Gardner III was found in her underwear and he is in jail after pleading not guilty in the case. He lives in the vicinity of the crime. In a nearby community, Amber Dubois disappeared early last year after last seen walking to Escondido High School. Her remains were found this week 25 miles east of the school. Law enforcement is working to determine if the cases are linked.

In any event, the specter of having sex offenders living near children is upsetting to many residents.

"We have small kids around here, and I have five grandkids," said Wroten's next door neighbor, John Butler, who lives in a house with his wife, Mary, and rents from Rose Mary Christian.

"If he even looks at one of my grandkids, I'm going to jail because I'm going to bury him," John Butler said matter-of-factly.

The couple is openly nosy about Wroten and keep an eagle eye on him. They note there are three children living just downstairs from him. They claim a woman dropped off a little boy at Wroten's house this afternoon at about 4:20 and they wondered if that's legal (even if it's the rapist's child).

But living on the other side of Wroten, Carissa and Chad Helsdon take a more cautious, don't-tread-on-me approach. They have three small children.

"I was uncomfortable at first, but he hasn't come down over here and we haven't had any problems with him," Carissa Helsdon said. "He keeps to himself."

Judge: Christian's Wal-Mart supervisor had habit of letting employees eat damaged items

By Howard B. Owens

In a decision that allowed Batavia City Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian to receive unemployment benefits after her termination from Wal-Mart, an administrative law judge in Buffalo found that Christian's supervisor previously let employees eat damaged food items.

Mark Sokolowski said he found the testimony of Christian about the matter more credible than the testimony of the Wal-Mart representative, who is not named in Sokolowski's ruling.

Rose Mary Christian, who is a candidate for District 7 County Legislature, dropped a copy of the ruling off at The Batavian's office this afternoon. Christian's termination from Wal-Mart became a public issue when former Democrat Tim Paine provide an e-mail to local media where Christian admits to fellow council members that Wal-Mart let her go.  Paine is admittedly disgruntled over what he sees as Christian blocking his plan to run for City Council this year.

The ruling states:

"Although the claimant acknowledged that she was aware that she was supposed to scan a damaged item and throw it out, since the claimant's supervisor allowed deli associates to eat damaged food items as samples, I am not persuaded that the claimant was aware that she placed her job in jeopardy when she ate a piece of cake on January 26, 2008," Sokolowski wrote. "It is also significant that the claimant was not the first associate to eat a piece of cake, reinforcing to the claimant that it would be okay to eat the cake. At worst the claimant used poor judgment when she ate a piece of cake on January 26, 2008, however her poor judgment in this instance does not rise to the level of misconduct within the meaning of the Unemployment Insurance Law."

"Accordingly," he adds, "I conclude that he claimant was separated from her employment under non-disqualifying circumstances."

Sokolowski overturned a prior Department of Labor finding that Christian was not qualified for unemployment benefits because of her termination.

Gerace: Local Republicans not involved in release of Christian e-mail

By Howard B. Owens

Local Republicans want nothing to do with Tim Paine's release of a Rose Mary Christian e-mail in which Christian tells fellow council members about her termination from Wal-Mart 20 months ago.

Joe Gerace, chairman of the City Republicans, called this morning and was adamant that The Batavian publish a statement from him saying that neither City nor County Republicans had anything to do with Paine's decision to release the e-mail.

"It's personal," Gerace said. "This is between Rose Mary and Tim Paine and we have nothing to do with it."

"I don't like her philosophy, but Rose Mary and I are good friends," Gerace said. "Why would I get involved in a thing like this?"

Gerace said he doesn't like mudslinging and doesn't like to see local Republicans involved with such tactics.

"I don't condone dirty politics, dirty tricks," Gerace said.

When contacted this morning, Christian's Republican opponent Bob Radley was unaware yet of the issue. He said he had heard rumors, but it really wasn't something he was interested in pursuing.

"I'm not into talking about people's personal lives," Radley said. "That's not the way I want win an election. I want to win an election on the issues, not based on what my opponent has done."

Former Democrat releases potentially damaging Christian e-mail because 'It's personal'

By Howard B. Owens

Tim Paine, who lost a Ward 4 council race to Bob Bialkowski two years ago, thinks Rose Mary Christian is personally responsible for him not being part of the Democratic slate this year.

He blames Christian for bringing candidate Julie Wallace into the fold and promoting her to other committee members, thereby costing him a chance to win a council seat. He believes he would've gotten more votes than Wallace, and more than the Republican with the fewest votes, too.

"I honestly feel I might have been the top of the ticket," Paine said, "and as hard as I work, I think I could have grabbed that third spot."

So tonight, he made no bones about seeking some payback and released to The Batavian and the Daily News a 20-month-old e-mail written by Christian and sent to her fellow City Council members. The Feb. 16, 2008 missive explained why she was fired from Wal-Mart.

The gist of it is that she and two other workers ate pieces of coffee cake from a damaged box that was going to wind up in the trash.

Christian was accused of violating store policy by opening the coffee cake package for another employee and then eating a small portion of it along with that employee and another worker.

When confronted by a store manager, Christian refused to give up the names of the other employees involved and she was terminated on the spot.

Here's the e-mail Rose Mary sent to all eight of her council colleagues, as well as City Attorney George Van Nest:

I want you to know that I was terminated by Wal-Mart for the following reason. I with two other girls ate a piece of coffee cake that was damaged. I opened the side of it and pulled it out. The girl who also ate some of it told on me. Almost a week later, my boss was told about it. When confronted, I would not tell who the other girls were. I was guilty of eating a piece of it, and was terminated. In case you hear it from someone else, I did it. Ro

(This e-mail was edited for typos only.)

For his part, Paine says flatly, releasing the e-mail "is personal. This is strictly a personal thing."

He takes umbrage with those who might minimize the importance of the issue.

"I can't tell you how much it pisses me off when people say, 'it was just a piece of coffee cake,'" Paine said. "How much will it be next time? Well, it was big enough that Wal-Mart fired her."

Large national retailers routinely terminate employees for even the most petty of infractions. There's no opportunity for appeal and no explanation will suffice. It's simply a zero-tolerance policy.

As the e-mail above indicates, Christian has no problem admitting she broke a rule -- though she says she was unaware of the policy at the time.

She said a girl who worked at the store came in to start her shift and said she was hungry, and Christian told her, "there's a damaged coffee cake over there." The girl started to stick her finger into the package and Christian said, "Don't do it like that. You don't know who's fingers have been in there." Christian then opened the package for her. At that point, they each took a small piece of the coffee cake as did a third employee.

Christian (electronically) scanned the package so the coffee cake would be reported as damaged inventory before it was thrown away.

Christian is the Democratic candidate for the District 7 County Legislature seat, running against Republican Bob Radley. She has represented Ward 6 for 18 years, and remains -- by all accounts very popular in her ward. We are told her nickname in that neighborhood is "Mayor of Ward 6."

Political observers we've spoken to suspect that in Ward 6, her unwillingness to "rat out" her co-workers will play well with voters. But in the more conservative Ward 1, the idea that she stole anything whatsoever may be all voters remember at the polls.

Christian said she doesn't want to be seen as a hero for not telling managers the names of the two other employees. She broke policy and was terminated. That's that.

She did say, however, that when Wal-Mart tried to fight her eligibility for unemployment, a judge ruled that she had been unfairly terminated and awarded her unemployment benefits, which she did receive for a time. She plans to make a letter confirming that decision public as soon as she obtains a copy.

Christian was taken aback to learn that Paine had a personal issue with her. She said she had no idea until this came up today that Paine was mad at her. She said although she introduced Wallace to the Democrat Committee, she had nothing to do with Wallace getting the nod over Paine.

"This is a figment of his imagination," Christian said.

She also noted that Paine dropped out of contention on his own, which Paine confirms.

Two weeks ago, Paine re-registered as a Republican.

Christian accused City Council President Charlie Mallow and Paine of conspiring to leak her old e-mail to the media -- even though she admits she had no expectation that it would remain private when she sent it. She said Paine must have gotten the e-mail from Mallow.

It's unclear how Paine obtained the e-mail. He initially said he got it from Mallow, but later denied it and said -- and Mallow concurs -- that the e-mail was shared with all City Democrat Committee members and discussed extensively at the time by the committee.

"We were trying to decide what we should do about it," Mallow said.

He said earlier that he wants nothing to do with the spat between Paine and Christian, calling them both friends.

"It's personal and it's why I don't want to have anything to do with politics," Mallow said. "It's one person against another person and they both happen to be my friends. It's like watching two friends fight in a schoolyard. What are you supposed to do?"

Enthusiasm for volunteer firefighters wanes among council members

By Howard B. Owens

We need to check -- Has Adam Miller started selling backpedals?  It seems so. A few were put in use at tonight's Batavia City Council meeting.

Suddenly, the idea of taking a good hard look at converting the Batavia Fire Department to an all volunteer force doesn't seem as attractive to as many council members as it did May 26, when City Council President Charlie Mallow raised the issue in a fiery speech about the high cost of the current paid-professional service.

At that meeting, council members Marianne Clattenburg, Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian all expressed support for looking more closely at the idea, with Clattenburg endorsing Mallow's call to arms with a hearty, "here, here."

Tonight, only Mallow kept the flame lit.

"I could foresee a problem with volunteers because of all the tall structures we have in the city," said Clattenburg. "I have real concerns if something disastrous happens."

Clattenburg said what she really meant at the previous meeting is that there should be some study on how the city can save money on fire service, such as looking at what cities of similar size as Batavia, with similar structures, do for fire service and how they keep costs down.

Christian, who wasn't quite as vocal in her support of Mallow's proposal in May, was more adamant in her opposition tonight to the idea of switching to an all volunteer force.

Christian made the repeated point -- disputed by Mallow -- that only paid professional fire fighters are trained in how to clear a building in an emergency, that volunteers are not allowed to get evacuation training.

"400 Towers is in my ward, and we have hospitals in the other wards," Christian said. "When you can prove to me that they have the training, then I can agree with it. Until then, I can't."

Christian also raised concerns about how quickly volunteers would respond, noting that current fire personnel can respond to an emergency anywhere in the city within three minutes.

When Bialkowski suggested that the City Council set some goals for what it hopes to accomplish with a reconsideration of the fire service, Christian interjected, "Goals are about money, and my goals are safety.  Money isn't always an issue."

And the theme was set for the discussion: This isn't all about money. We need to consider the safety issues as well.

"When we had that fire at Christina's, if not for the immediate response of the fire department, that whole block could have gone down," said Councilman Frank Ferrando.

Mallow reminded council members that terms of the current union agreement doesn't necessarily put safety first. Before any volunteer firefighter can be dispatched to a fire in the City of Batavia, all paid personnel must be called in, even if it means overtime.

"If we're going to talk about safety, let's really talk about safety," Mallow said. "Let's talk about these restrictions."

Mallow also said that there are bigger cities in New York, with bigger structures, that have all-volunteer fire departments.

"Just because we've always done it this way in Batavia doesn't make it right," Mallow said.

Council members are going to form a subcommittee to further study cost saving measures, including potentially coming up with a scheme to include volunteers with paid staff in a single department.

Christian (pictured top in file photo) is a candidate for a seat on the County Legislature and Clattenburg (file photo) is looking to move up from her Ward 2 council seat to a Council At Large seat.

Masse Gateway assessment changed, could improve grant chances

By Howard B. Owens

Rose Mary Christian's call to RestoreNY about the Masse Gateway Project caused a bit of a stir at the last City Council meeting, but it also helped uncover a mistake in the grant application, Joanne Beck reports.

It turns out, the property in question doesn't carry an assessed value of $825,000, but $278,000.

Both City Manager Jason Molino and City Council President Charlie Mallow said the change in the grant application will actually improve the city's chances of winning funding.

"I think it adds to the application," he (Molino) said Tuesday. "Unfortunately we didn't have a unanimous vote. Overall, it's still a great project; it's got a decent chance of getting funding."

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