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Thread: Residents address councilmember on conflict of interest

  1. #1
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    Residents address councilmember on conflict of interest

    Commenting on the proposed Schedule of Salaries resolution prior to its vote by the town board, residents Dan Rinow and Kevin Lemaster questioned councilmember Mike Wozniak on whether he should recuse himself / abstain from voting on the resolution considering he was related to several members employed by the town.

    Rinow: “I would like to request councilman Wozniak recuse himself from voting on the resolution considering the conflict of interest he has.

    Councilman Wozniak: This is councilman Wozniak. I have to disagree with your opinion that I have to recuse myself. I have had conversations with the Town Attorney, and I have answered the questions vociferously and honestly. Yes, I am related to the Speyers and am proud of it. They are not blood-relatives of mine – the one appointed is a brother-in-law driving a van for $13/hr.

    I have two others working for Parks & Recreation; one is a cleaner and one is a laborer. All three of those Speyer’s were hired prior to my taking position on this board. I do not understand why I have to recuse myself in this capacity.

    Rinow: I am not questioning you Mr. Wozniak, what I am saying is you have a lot of family members that will benefit from your vote; this salary vote. Your vote is going to benefit them. You are not going to vote for things that don’t benefit them. It’s just the appearance. It doesn’t look right. They will all benefit, including your wife. You need to do the right thing and step away and not do anything that will benefit your family.

    Wozniak: Yes, you are right. My wife is employed by the Town of Lancaster. She has been an employee for 8+ years. She wound up highest on the Civil Services exam. She was interviewed. She was offered the job; she took the job. The only thing I am guilty of here is marrying a woman who has five relatives with families with multiple children working in the Town of Lancaster. So if you are accusing me of having a large family, yes, I do. There is not one person who has been hired in this town since I was put on this board.

    Town Attorney Loftus interjected: To make clear, pursuant to State Law and our town code of ethics, none of these blood, non-blood relatives of Mr. Wozniak would be a conflict of interest. Legally, there is no conflict of interest.

    Rinow: Gentlemen, I am not accusing or attacking Mr. Wozniak, or any of your families character, of anything. What I am saying is your family s going to benefit by far and it just doesn’t look right.

    Kevin Lemaster: Mr. Supervisor, you have placed Mr. Wozniak on five different committees: Parks & Recreation, Finance & Management, Personnel, Youth & Senior, and Public Safety. At the last town board meeting when I asked Mr. Wozniak about his family related employment, he denied twice giving a full explanation. One of his family members even works in your office. Why did you place him on those particular committees?

    Supervisor Ruffino: Most of those committees have to do with building and things of that nature.

    Lemaster: No, I am talking about you putting him on the Finance & Management, Personnel, Youth & Senior, Dog Control and Buildings & Grounds committees.

    Supervisor Ruffino: I don’t have my sheet in front of me.

    Lemaster: Mr. Wozniak has family working in three of the five departments.

    Supervisor Ruffino: That has no bearing.

    Lemaster: Of course it has no bearing. In the last meeting Mr. Wozniak didn’t even acknowledge he had a wife working in the town. It makes people wonder. I just want to point that out. In talking to the Town Attorney. Mr. Wozniak and he better talk a little more about him abstaining from votes like these – especially where his wife is a White-Collar employee.

    Comment

    This week’s Lancaster Bee reported on only three Wozniak family members employed by the town. Yet, Wozniak’s wife was clearly mentioned as a fourth. Contacted Mr. Lemaster to find out the exact number. He informed me there are currently six - three in Parks & Recreation, one in Buildings, one in Youth & Seniors, and one in the Supervisor’s office.

    Wozniak’s claim that all family members were hired before he took office in December 2019 is true. Two were hired since Supervisor Ruffino took office in 2020. A third (supported by Ruffino) was denied employment because that individual didn’t place high enough on the Civil Service exam.


    “Patronage is alive and well in Lancaster,” Lemaster closed with.

  2. #2
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Commenting on the proposed Schedule of Salaries resolution prior to its vote by the town board, residents Dan Rinow and Kevin Lemaster questioned councilmember Mike Wozniak on whether he should recuse himself / abstain from voting on the resolution considering he was related to several members employed by the town.

    Rinow: “I would like to request councilman Wozniak recuse himself from voting on the resolution considering the conflict of interest he has.

    Councilman Wozniak: This is councilman Wozniak. I have to disagree with your opinion that I have to recuse myself. I have had conversations with the Town Attorney, and I have answered the questions vociferously and honestly. Yes, I am related to the Speyers and am proud of it. They are not blood-relatives of mine – the one appointed is a brother-in-law driving a van for $13/hr.
    I continue to be troubled as to why Councilman Wozniak appeared to publicly twice-deny any such relationship during the January 4, 2021 Town Council session.


    Mr. Lemaster:

    "I have one simple question and one comment: Do any of the Town Board members, or the Supervisor, have any relatives or any type of family relations to any of the people being put on these committees, boards hiring positions, any one of you?"

    Supervisor Ruffino:

    "I do not, at all."

    Councilman Leary:

    "Bob Leary, I do not."

    Councilman Mazur:

    "I do not."

    Councilman Dickman:

    "Adam Dickman, I do not."

    Councilman Wozniak:

    "Mike Wozniak, I do not."

    Mr. Lemaster:

    "Pardon, I did not hear the last..."

    Councilman Wozniak:

    "Mike Wozniak, and I do not either."

    Mr. Lemaster:

    "Ah, you're not related to any of the Speyers? (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

    "You're related to the Speyers, aren't you?"

    Councilman Wozniak:

    "Yes."

    Mr. Lemaster:

    "Okay, then right there, you turned around and made an inaccurate statement."
    Reference at 7:45 on this audio link: https://soundcloud.com/user-329292372/2021-01-04-tbm


    QUOTE #1:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Town Attorney Loftus interjected: To make clear, pursuant to State Law and our town code of ethics, none of these blood, non-blood relatives of Mr. Wozniak would be a conflict of interest. Legally, there is no conflict of interest.
    QUOTE #2:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Lemaster: Of course it has no bearing. In the last meeting Mr. Wozniak didn’t even acknowledge he had a wife working in the town. It makes people wonder. I just want to point that out. In talking to the Town Attorney. Mr. Wozniak and he better talk a little more about him abstaining from votes like these – especially where his wife is a White-Collar employee.
    Questions regarding Quotes #1 and #2:

    I certainly respect Counsel's opinion, but does the "non-blood" exemption category include a spouse; a relationship which may involve the holding of joint assets and income tax liability?

    If in fact spouses do enjoy that "non-blood" privilege against conflict of interest, should not the town stakeholders be troubled by any such exemption?
    Last edited by mark blazejewski; January 23rd, 2021 at 12:33 PM.
    Ruffino's definition of transparency?: "Basically, I have three votes."

  3. #3
    Member Breezy's Avatar
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    Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss!!!!!!

    OMG - just listened to some of the audio of the Lancaster Town Board meeting from January 19th.

    My main takeaway from listening to the meeting was the absolute patience among member of the town board having the bear one attempted political hit after another. Can't say I could put up with some of those so-called 'concerned citizens.' Heck, you get 5 minutes from what I understand during the speakers part of the meeting, then have to put up with a 15 minute grilling from Lee Chowaniec, who surely attempts to dominate the meeting.



    And the idea that the supervisor would give so much leeway on the time allotment for these 'speakers' in all their barbs and cheap shots, and without any appreciation for that - especially from Chowaniec, shows that the supervisor's generosity is just not returned in the form of any appreciation whatsoever. Quite the opposite, readers, the more leeway people like Chowaniec get, the more they take advantage and continue with their know-it-all-ism. We have seen this before.

    Of course with Mr. Chowaniec, it's as simple as this: Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss!!!!!!

    Anyone not present in years past can now see what past town board meetings were like with Chowaniec in full form. Why not run for office if you are so concerned over all those years? Why not stand for election yourself in order to guide the community forward? The answer: Chowaniec has written time and again that he loathes most politicians, excoriating many on these very pages, yet, always expecting the red carpet being rolled out for him. It's a kind of "I despise you but you better listen to what I expect of the town board." Or, expect to be DOXED right here on Speakup!

    And Lee just does not like anyone standing up to him!

    LOL

    Another takeaway was that the speaker who followed Mr. Chowaniec sounded like a seventh-grade twit, clearly a political shill who missed his target. This nitwit, in all his self aggrandizing, sounded sooooo over the top disingenuous, rather childish in my view, over and over saying he was mindful of the councilman's integrity as he tried to destroy him concerning distance relatives hired years before he won the seat on the council - and clearly an election victory not supported by any of these 'speakers.' Please! The 'speaker' was just not effective in his attack anyway. Sounded more like a scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    CHOWANIEC POUTS – CHOWANIEC WHINES

    Readers, I guess it's one positive thing for Mr. Chowaniec: That being board meetings being conducted telephonically and that Lee gets to participate once again. BUT, again, my condolences to those people having to witness such a scene. Only problem for Chowaniec is that he comes off as self-important, pompous, full of himself, as well as arrogant. The overused, "As a resident of Lancaster," he interjects, as if he expects to be in the position of signing off on public policy matters like he was elected by the people of the town. He grumbles that bids for a new dog shelter were not rejected for seven weeks. OMG, the horror! Yet, the lead staffer mentions that the bidders were notified right away. But Lee wasn't notified. Oh, the unmitigated oversight on the part of town leaders!

    Had enough yet ???????

    Mr. Chowaniec enjoys writing the incendiary Had enough yet and of course that is his absolute right to do any day of the week. However, he also has to realize that people read the stuff he writes on that dubious thread, like saying Democrats burn down cities, Democrats are champions of Antifa, Democrats force Socialist policies down our throats, Democrats despise law and order and the police, and on and on and on and on. He has to realize that people come away from reading all of that crap and come away with an impression. Not a good impression.

    After reading that junk, how in the world would anyone take him seriously when it comes to advancing public policy for an entire community ?????

    UNBELIEVEABLE!

  4. #4
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    Is this the Town of Lancaster..or the Town of Wozniak?

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    Incredible screed, Breezy

    For the sake of bringing unity to heal this country, President Biden requested we tone down the rhetoric, respect each other and each other’s opinions, show compassion, etc. Your screed has none of that.

    It resembles that of the far left, an attack on free speech – to restrict / censor speech / opinion other than yours.

    My questions to you go unanswered, requests to refute what I posted unanswered. In their place personal attacks. You don’t like my ideology, policies, etc., fine. Unfortunately, you provide no information as to yours.

    I am not going to change my style of politics because of you. I have been writing for this website for 20 years and have never been censored or given a time out. Perhaps you may want to appeal to the Administrator to have me banished. Otherwise, I am not changing my viewpoints / opinions, or going away.

    Until then, you and the clique you represent whine away.

  6. #6
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Lee,

    I take occasion to thank you for your long-time service to the people of Lancaster.

    Your painstaking efforts to transcribe verbatim, the words of the January 19, 2021 Town Council session, vividly illustrate your dedication to our Lancaster community.

    If I may on a personal note, I wish to express to you the long admiration that my dad held for you; another Lancaster resident who will have passed 10 years this March 3. He would often speak glowingly of your courageously expressed public views and those of Mr. Gull; two citizen-warriors who dared to contradict the perceived popular narratives, and without predisposed political prejudice, courageously spoke truth to power.

    Once again, many thanks to you Mr. C., and may you long-continue your very noble efforts.
    Last edited by mark blazejewski; January 23rd, 2021 at 08:42 PM.
    Ruffino's definition of transparency?: "Basically, I have three votes."

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    Member Frank Lee Blunt's Avatar
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    breezy is the right name for you as your post is full of hot air! defending decades of Dems control of the town board does not serve the citizens of Lancaster, in fact it robs them of sincere leadership and true representation A corrupt administration is now in charge and has been in power for way to long.

  8. #8
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Lee Blunt View Post
    breezy is the right name for you as your post is full of hot air! defending decades of Dems control of the town board does not serve the citizens of Lancaster, in fact it robs them of sincere leadership and true representation A corrupt administration is now in charge and has been in power for way to long.

    The reference on post #3 to the "telephonically" conducted Town Council sessions which permit Lee to fully participate in the public affairs of the town in which he lives, IMHO, was a disgusting smack-down of a prominent citizen, and was most probably conveyed with the expectation, or illusory hope, of suppressing his learned voice.

    More concerning, that remark appears to complement a May 4, 2020 Ruffino question related to the teleconferenced sessions which queried "Is there a way to trace callers?"


    Reference: https://www.speakupwny.com/forums/sh...Yet-quot/page4


    That question was not privately directed to a technician, but was publicly conveyed to the ears of the listening and participating audience. Why I must ask, was it important for Ruffino to know the telephone numbers and thereby the identities of listeners?

    The only existing Public Participation protocol that I know of is the self-identification of a questionnaire/commentator, and does not extend to the more general audience. In that connection, was such a query deliberately made to intimidate the listeners and participants?

    Intentionally or unintentionally spoken, did not that May 4, 2020 Ruffino question smack of an Orwellian overreach, perhaps aimed at intimidating the participating and concerned Lancaster residents?
    Last edited by mark blazejewski; January 27th, 2021 at 01:59 PM.
    Ruffino's definition of transparency?: "Basically, I have three votes."

  9. #9
    Member Frank Lee Blunt's Avatar
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    The pretentious manner displayed by the majority party of the Town of Lancaster at every board meeting since King Ruffino has taken over with his band of cohorts is despicable. But that is to be expected from a party that has had the majority rule for almost 40 yrs! Citizens! if you want respect from your elected office holders it's time for a change of leadership. It will be my pleasure to bring to light the unethical acts and borderline criminal doings of this Cabal which crosses village and town borders

  10. #10
    Member Breezy's Avatar
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    Frank Lee Blunt Belches: "Citizens!" More Likely Just Passing Gas!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Lee Blunt View Post
    The pretentious manner displayed by the majority party of the Town of Lancaster at every board meeting since King Ruffino has taken over with his band of cohorts is despicable. But that is to be expected from a party that has had the majority rule for almost 40 yrs! Citizens! if you want respect from your elected office holders it's time for a change of leadership. It will be my pleasure to bring to light the unethical acts and borderline criminal doings of this Cabal which crosses village and town borders
    Too funny! Too darn funny!! Frank Lee Blunt! HeHe

    Dude maybe should take a puff on a blunt - he's an absolute wreck.

    Sorry, pal, I listened to the last town board meeting and thought the board members went out of their way with the people who wished to speak. It also seems your rage is inextinguishable. Get out of the house, take a drive around town. Can't you see that the Town of Lancaster over the years you attack is in fact the treasure of the region? These Democrats you obsess over built up a beautiful community, to their own peril in my opinion, because a lot of Republicans moved into those wonderful new neighborhoods. You sound as onerous as some of the other grumps around these pages.

    Seems to me those grouses always fail, anyway, maybe it's all the whining.

    Or are you just jealous you did not make it in that business?

    The only reason I chimed in on the Lancaster Village elections in the first place was because Blazejewski once again attacked a female candidate for no reason whatsoever. He seems to be supporting the same candidate as you are, Frank Lee Blunt. Go ahead, that's your right, for me it was just doing some research and seeing that the candidate Blazejewski unfairly attacked is clearly the best choice, and someone who should not be attacked just because she is challenging someone he is supporting.

    Time will tell if you have it or are just another chump Republican masquerading as a concerned citizen?

    And we've seen a lot of 'concerned citizens' in Chowaniec and Blazejewski. Don't forget all the Republicans they tried forcing down your throat, Frank Lee Blunt! Do you approve of those people? Or were they the kind of angles you support ????? I guess I can be nice and just say those folks Lee and Mark promoted were similar to mob figures!!! And you whine about good, decent, committed Democrats???



    Is your angst the same with the current crop of Lancaster Town GOP officials? How about the Town GOP Chairman Greg Sojka ????? Is it OK with you Frank Lee Blunt, putting it bluntly of course, that shortly after Sojka is installed as chairman, like magic, the son is appointed to a board position in the town government, and now, is a Village candidate on the slate that you apparently want to assist with your attacks here today????

    Frank Lee Blunt you sound just as 'political' as everyone else!

  11. #11
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    Breezy wrote

    Sorry, pal, I listened to the last town board meeting and thought the board members went out of their way with the people who wished to speak. It also seems your rage is inextinguishable. Get out of the house, take a drive around town. Can't you see that the Town of Lancaster over the years you attack is in fact the treasure of the region? These Democrats you obsess over built up a beautiful community, to their own peril in my opinion, because a lot of Republicans moved into those wonderful new neighborhoods. You sound as onerous as some of the other grumps around these pages.
    I have always stated that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than in Lancaster. It is because of the community spirit, a great school district and those willing to put the time and effort in holding those in power accountable – you know Breezy, those whiners, obstructionists, NIMBY’s, anyone daring to challenge the people in office. And in Lancaster the Town Board has been under control for 66 of the last 70 years and the Planning and Zoning Boards filled with supporting patronage appointees.

    So, no issues in town regarding overburdened roads / traffic / traffic safety issues, infrastructure, flooding and drainage issues from the destruction or indiscriminate filling in of valuable / functional wetlands, rezones / rezones of rezones, and lack of major roads, right Breezy?

    The only reason I chimed in on the Lancaster Village elections in the first place was because Blazejewski once again attacked a female candidate for no reason whatsoever. He seems to be supporting the same candidate as you are, Frank Lee Blunt. Go ahead, that's your right, for me it was just doing some research and seeing that the candidate Blazejewski unfairly attacked is clearly the best choice, and someone who should not be attacked just because she is challenging someone he is supporting.
    Attacking? Just like your other charges of sexism, racism, supporting ‘mob’ figures, shaming, cancel culture, guilt by association? Didn’t Blazejewski support female candidates that you in turn attacked? Did you support Diane Terranova, a fellow Democrat in her endorsed campaign for Town Clerk?

    Time will tell if you have it or are just another chump Republican masquerading as a concerned citizen?
    People see you as a ‘chump Democrat” acting as a concerned citizen. What they also see is your disdain for anyone holding Republican or Conservative values / ideology but recognize the importance you and fellow Democrats hold to infiltrate / disrupt the Conservative and Independence Parties to assure getting the votes to win elections. There no longer is an Independence Party and the Democrats will be kissing the Conservative Party committee asses to get interviews or playing the game of changing party affiliation to primary the endorsed Conservative Party candidate. A democrat professing to have conservative values is analogous to a ‘fox in the hen house – aka councilman Mike Wozniak and Supervisor Ruffino repeatedly declaring, “we have the votes.”

    And we've seen a lot of 'concerned Don't forget all the Republicans they tried forcing down your throat, Frank Lee Blunt! Do you approve of those people? Or were they the kind of angles you support ????? I guess I can be nice and just say those folks Lee and Mark promoted were similar to mob figures!!! And you whine about good, decent, committed Democrats??
    Mark and I supported mob figures? Like whom Breezy? Are you insinuating we are mob figures? Another ‘guilt by association’ charge without base or merit.

    Is your angst the same with the current crop of Lancaster Town GOP officials? How about the Town GOP Chairman Greg Sojka ????? Is it OK with you Frank Lee Blunt, putting it bluntly of course, that shortly after Sojka is installed as chairman, like magic, the son is appointed to a board position in the town government, and now, is a Village candidate on the slate that you apparently want to assist with your attacks here today????
    When Sojka was appointed to fill a vacant ZBA seat, he was a registered Democrat – a patronage fellow Democrat appointee. I believe he changed his voter registration to Independent. Well, that apparently did not bode well for the Democratic Party in control. That same individual appointed by his party, that was appointed by his own ZBA peers as Chair submits a letter of intent to be reappointed, has the best resume of all petitioning candidates, he gets the axe.

    And you now find fault with Sojka because he is not going to be a candidate in the newly formed VOL Integrity Party? BTW – Integrity Party? That is oxymoronic in politics!

    In closing, it appears Blunt knows where the bones are buried and will eat your lunch. As I don’t live in the Village of Lancaster, I feel I have no standing to get involved in its politics. Be careful not to bring my name up in that regard because I also know where the bones are buried. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  12. #12
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post

    And in Lancaster the Town Board has been under control for 66 of the last 70 years and the Planning and Zoning Boards filled with supporting patronage appointees.
    Very true Mr. C., and now, if my understanding is correct, town political actors were instrumental in the creation of the VOL's new so-called "Integrity" Party. I further understand that such town political/government players included non-village residents.


    In fact, in my sixty-five years as a village resident, I have never heard of such an audacious attempt by town power holders to extend their power and control into the worlds of village politics and government; a blatant overreach which in my opinion, may ultimately threaten the independent autonomy of the village itself.

    Village voters need to be made aware of what I consider to be a grave threat to their independent politics and government!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    Attacking? Just like your other charges of sexism, racism, supporting ‘mob’ figures, shaming, cancel culture, guilt by association? Didn’t Blazejewski support female candidates that you in turn attacked? Did you support Diane Terranova, a fellow Democrat in her endorsed campaign for Town Clerk?
    Very well said Lee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    What they also see is your disdain for anyone holding Republican or Conservative values / ideology but recognize the importance you and fellow Democrats hold to infiltrate / disrupt the Conservative and Independence Parties to assure getting the votes to win elections.
    It now appears to me that some of those same town power players want to infect the village with what I consider to be their own special brand of sleazy, manipulative, backroom politics.

    Case In Point:

    Does not the fact that the Supervisor Ruffino's office secretary, very recently the unsuccessful Democrat Committee-endorsed candidate for Town Clerk, is now the Integrity Party's candidate for VOL Trustee, seem to support the perception of that perceived ongoing attempt by town political actors to overreach into what should be autonomous village affairs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    When Sojka was appointed to fill a vacant ZBA seat, he was a registered Democrat – a patronage fellow Democrat appointee. I believe he changed his voter registration to Independent. Well, that apparently did not bode well for the Democratic Party in control. That same individual appointed by his party, that was appointed by his own ZBA peers as Chair submits a letter of intent to be reappointed, has the best resume of all petitioning candidates, he gets the axe.
    Lee, for whatever it's worth, there was another factual error by the commenter to whom you are addressing. Sojka did not become Republican Chair until October, 2018, ten months after Tyler was appointed to the ZBA.
    Last edited by mark blazejewski; January 30th, 2021 at 10:34 AM.
    Ruffino's definition of transparency?: "Basically, I have three votes."

  13. #13
    Member Frank Lee Blunt's Avatar
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    Mark your cautions to the corrupt Cabal and sister Giza Organization will fall on deaf ears. But no worries my message of wrong doings and unethical habits of the ruling local Dems is for the citizens to hear. And indeed they will. This forum is simply to let Breezy and the rest of the underhanded and secretive group be aware they are now being exposed and out in the daylight for all to see. Soon I will be discussing a subject close to the hearts of union members at both the Town and Village DPW's. Will they be happy all in ONE barn?
    Frank Lee Speaking....

  14. #14
    Member Breezy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Lee Blunt View Post
    Mark your cautions to the corrupt Cabal and sister Giza Organization will fall on deaf ears. But no worries my message of wrong doings and unethical habits of the ruling local Dems is for the citizens to hear. And indeed they will. This forum is simply to let Breezy and the rest of the underhanded and secretive group be aware they are now being exposed and out in the daylight for all to see. Soon I will be discussing a subject close to the hearts of union members at both the Town and Village DPW's. Will they be happy all in ONE barn?
    It seems the effort here is to use the names and positions of other people to block an up-and-coming leadership team in the upcoming village election, yet, when you see Schroeder-Sojka at the top of the other ticket, you see a political lineage going back years. Hey, Frank Lee Blunt, how about an investigation of the Schroeder and Sojka political connections and history? You seem to have conveniently left them out of your admonishment.

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