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Thread: Brant Town Board prevents public speaking

  1. #1
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    Brant Town Board prevents public speaking

    On Thursday, January 3rd, the Brant Town Board passed a resolution prohibiting the public from speaking at our town board meetings. The Supervisor, before the vote, stated that the other towns are passing similar resolutions. He stated West Seneca, Orchard Park, Amherst and Evans passed the same resolution. After conversations with each of these towns, I have been advised that not only do these towns not have any such “resolution” they actually encourage the public to attend and speak at their meetings. Orchard Park’s resolution actually states that “the Town Council’s role is to listen.”

    I have spoken to 3 of the board members who voted “yes” on this resolution and I am shocked to say that they admitted to me that “we’re sick of hearing from the same people about the same things.” This is the same town board which appointed an unqualified Chief of Police and paid him over $30,000.00 a year until the public, through the media, forced them to remove this officer as Chief and appoint a qualified Chief in his place who now is only getting paid $15,600.00 per year. What would have happened if the Brant taxpayers and concerned citizens didn’t the right to speak and bring this matter to everyone’s attention. It’s my guess that we would still be paying an unqualified Chief of Police.

    It is my intention to have the Town Board re-vote on this resolution and pass a new resolution letting the Town of Brant residents speak at the town board meetings. I need to enlist the help of the public and the media. The next Town Board meeting is February 12th, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Brant Town Hall on Route 249, Brant, New York. I am hoping that the media will agree to cover this meeting forcing the board to consider the consequences of their actions.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Debra A. Ritz
    Citizens for Good and Open Government

    (716) 675-1066
    (716) 337-2659

  2. #2
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
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    Who were the three that voted yes?



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  3. #3
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    Brant Resolution

    RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE
    BRANT TOWN BOARD AT ORGANIZATIONAL
    MEETING ON 01/3/08

    Proposed Resolution was read by L. Pero as follows:


    7.) PRIVILEGE of the Floor – According to the Associations of Towns of the State of New York Town Law Manual, Section 4-5, “the public…..does not have a right to speak at town board meetings except as provided by board rules”. THEREFORE, all questions addressed to the town board must be submitted in writing to the Supervisor’s office, signed, dated, and received no later than 3:00 PM on the Thursday prior to the regular monthly meeting. The board will determine if a question: a) warrants a response in writing, thus will not be addressed at the board meeting; or b) will be added to the agenda and addressed at the board meeting. If the question is addressed, the author will be invited by the board to speak at the meeting and he or she shall state his or her name and their address for the record. A time limit of two to three minutes may be imposed.

    A discussion was commenced by D. Kujawinski against this resolution at which time L. Pero stated that the Towns of West Seneca, Orchard Park, Amherst and Evans had already passed similar resolutions.

    Motion made by Roseanne Turner, seconded by Leonard Pero with a roll call vote as follows:
    Gier – Aye
    Fullone – Aye
    Kujawinski – Nay

    Motion carried by a 4 to 1 vote.


    D. Kujawinski then made a motion to rescind this Resolution at the first board meeting of the year on Tuesday, 01/08/08. Seconded by J. Gier and the vote was 3 to 2 with Turner, Fullone and Pero voting against rescinding this Resolution. Apparently they don't believe in free speach and they have forgotten but public service means and who pays their wages...US!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
    First, in my opinion, that's un-American. I'd like to see the Brant Town Board try something like this in, say New England.

    Second...it's stupid question time...is this legal? (I really don't know the answer, so, it's a sincere question.)

  5. #5
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    Brant Resolution

    My grassroots committee and I are trying to get to the bottom of the legalities....the Board is quoting some law saying that the public doesn't have to speak at "public" town board meetings...which then goes to the questions, then why are they public and when do the taxpayers get to discuss their issues with the Town Board. Channel 4 and 7 have already interviewed some of us. The Buffalo News ran an article and then wrote their own opinion. Channel 2 interviewed my on Friday and is interviewing D. Kujawinski and L. Pero today. This story should run tonight or by the end of the week. I am trying to get the public involved to put pressure on this Board to rescind this Resolution. One of our mottos is: Welcome to Peroville...now shut up and pay your taxes. Kind of catchy, isn't it?

  6. #6
    Member PaulJonson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debra Ritz
    My grassroots committee and I are trying to get to the bottom of the legalities....the Board is quoting some law saying that the public doesn't have to speak at "public" town board meetings...which then goes to the questions, then why are they public and when do the taxpayers get to discuss their issues with the Town Board. Channel 4 and 7 have already interviewed some of us. The Buffalo News ran an article and then wrote their own opinion. Channel 2 interviewed my on Friday and is interviewing D. Kujawinski and L. Pero today. This story should run tonight or by the end of the week. I am trying to get the public involved to put pressure on this Board to rescind this Resolution. One of our mottos is: Welcome to Peroville...now shut up and pay your taxes. Kind of catchy, isn't it?
    Good luck in your efforts.

  7. #7
    Member raoul duke's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure the public comment part of a town board meeting or any other government meeting is not a right and only a courtesy granted by the governing body. That all being said, it ain't like Brant is a metropolis with millions of people. Even if they are sick of hearing from the same people all the time, as long as what they are saying is sensible and coherent, I don't see what the benefits of getting rid of public comments are. Would the town board members prefer it if the people just called them on their home phones?
    One beautiful thing about having a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations is that every disaster is measured in terms of economic loss. It's sort of like getting your arm sheared off in a car accident and thinking, "Damn, now it'll take longer to fold the laundry" as blood spurts from your arteries. - The Rude Pundit

  8. #8
    Townsfolk
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    Debra-- just curious, what is the population in the Town of Brant? Also, can you honestly say that the same speakers continue to speak about the same things? If this is true, I don't need names-- kindly mention a few of the issues. I am curious to learn if these issues are practical.

    This happens in all towns at board meetings. We have our own cast of characters here in Amherst who always have something to say at board meetings. Although it is their legal right to speak, it does becomes annoying at times. We all cringe when Thomas Frank or Jim ******* step up to the mic.

  9. #9
    Townsfolk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Townsfolk
    Debra-- just curious, what is the population in the Town of Brant? Also, can you honestly say that the same speakers continue to speak about the same things? If this is true, I don't need names-- kindly mention a few of the issues. I am curious to learn if these issues are practical.

    This happens in all towns at board meetings. We have our own cast of characters here in Amherst who always have something to say at board meetings. Although it is their legal right to speak, it does becomes annoying at times. We all cringe when Thomas Frank or Jim ******* step up to the mic.
    Jim's last name rhymes with lick-hole-eee.

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    Town of Brant

    Townsfolk...I appreciate your thoughts and the questions being asked by the public at the Town Board Meeting in Brant go unanswered each and every month. This whole thing started over a year ago when 2 people spoke out at the meeting after discovering that the Board had appointed and paid for over a year an unqualified Chief of Police. This "Chief" can never be a chief anywhere in any department due to qualifications, age, etc. yet the Town Board tried to sneak this past the taxpayers and town residents. When the 2 spokes-people continued to bring this out at the public meetings and finally went to the media, the Town Board un-appointed this individual and have yet to admit a mistake was made. Truthfully though, there was no mistake...the Board knew he wasn't a qualified Chief and thought the taxpayers and residents of Brant wouldn't know the difference. Also brought out time and time again is the fact that this "Chief" used town funds to pay for lights and sirens installed on a personal vehicle, his father's pick-up truck. Although this money allegedly was paid back to the Town, that didn't happen until nearly 8 months after these same 2 people brought this to the public meetings and to the media and to the DA's office. It seems that the Town Board doesn't fixes it's "mistakes" until the pressure is put on them at public meetings and through the media. As a former elected official I have sent numerous letters to this Town Board over the past 2 years and have yet to receive a response to any of my issues or my requests. If another public official in our Town can't get responses from the Town Board, what makes anyone think the average, every day taxpayer will get a response. If the Town Board answered the questions asked or even addressed the issues at all, the same questions would stop. We are all still waiting for answers to questions that were asked in October, November and December, 2007. Enough is enough and now we have to be "invited" to speak at our public Town Board Meetings.....how convenient for the Board. Not, however, very responsive to the public which elected them and pays their wages. Also, what is 3 minutes per person once a month at a meeting going to cost these very "important" and very "busy" elected officials. Isn't that their job???? If they don't think so then maybe they should be looking for other employment. Just a thought to keep in mind at election time except we've got 2 years left for 3 members of this Board. They can pull a lot over on the taxpayers and residents of Brant in 3 years. Can Brant afford it? I say "NO!!!!"

  11. #11
    Member PaulJonson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Townsfolk
    Jim's last name rhymes with lick-hole-eee.
    Is it Spicoli??

    Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #12
    Townsfolk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debra Ritz
    Townsfolk...I appreciate your thoughts and the questions being asked by the public at the Town Board Meeting in Brant go unanswered each and every month. This whole thing started over a year ago when 2 people spoke out at the meeting after discovering that the Board had appointed and paid for over a year an unqualified Chief of Police. This "Chief" can never be a chief anywhere in any department due to qualifications, age, etc. yet the Town Board tried to sneak this past the taxpayers and town residents. When the 2 spokes-people continued to bring this out at the public meetings and finally went to the media, the Town Board un-appointed this individual and have yet to admit a mistake was made. Truthfully though, there was no mistake...the Board knew he wasn't a qualified Chief and thought the taxpayers and residents of Brant wouldn't know the difference. Also brought out time and time again is the fact that this "Chief" used town funds to pay for lights and sirens installed on a personal vehicle, his father's pick-up truck. Although this money allegedly was paid back to the Town, that didn't happen until nearly 8 months after these same 2 people brought this to the public meetings and to the media and to the DA's office. It seems that the Town Board doesn't fixes it's "mistakes" until the pressure is put on them at public meetings and through the media. As a former elected official I have sent numerous letters to this Town Board over the past 2 years and have yet to receive a response to any of my issues or my requests. If another public official in our Town can't get responses from the Town Board, what makes anyone think the average, every day taxpayer will get a response. If the Town Board answered the questions asked or even addressed the issues at all, the same questions would stop. We are all still waiting for answers to questions that were asked in October, November and December, 2007. Enough is enough and now we have to be "invited" to speak at our public Town Board Meetings.....how convenient for the Board. Not, however, very responsive to the public which elected them and pays their wages. Also, what is 3 minutes per person once a month at a meeting going to cost these very "important" and very "busy" elected officials. Isn't that their job???? If they don't think so then maybe they should be looking for other employment. Just a thought to keep in mind at election time except we've got 2 years left for 3 members of this Board. They can pull a lot over on the taxpayers and residents of Brant in 3 years. Can Brant afford it? I say "NO!!!!"
    Thanks, Debra. I watched you on WGRZ this morning and you interviewed well. Sounds to me like this is a battle that needs fighting. Imagine that-- elected officials not wanting to hear from the voters and taxpayers who put them into office and pay their salaries. Seems like the town board doesn't have much integrity or common sense.

    Any idea why the town board would appoint a police chief who fails to meet the qualifications? Were any political paybacks, quid pro quo, or nepotism involved?

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    Who knows...

    Towsfolk..we are asking ourselves that same question. That "Chief" was paid $30,000.00 on salary and was never there. He works part-time in every other jurisdiction you can think of which was were one of our two Brant Police cars could be found on any given day. Then when they were forced through public outcry to change their ways, this individual was made an officer and still paid that same amount because he has an un-certified police dog. The dog was making more per hour than our police officers were. The current, qualified Chief is only getting paid $15,600.00 per year. Something is going on with the Town Board and the prior "Chief" and we can't get to the bottom of it. He is still getting paid more than the other officers, one of which has been on the force for 30 years and they claims it's because he has a dog. I'm fairly sure that the little Town of Brant can do without a police dog especially when the dog and its handler are not certified through the State of New York. I think this becomes an insurance liability for the Town and any good defense attorney could probably use the "un-certified" argument to have evidence become inadmissible in court. We are still trying to connect the dots on this Police Chief issue but the bottom line is that this matter came to a head when the taxpayers brought this situation into the public Town Board Meetings and to the media. So now, we can't address our Board unless invited....convenient for them I would say.

  14. #14
    Townsfolk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debra Ritz
    Towsfolk..we are asking ourselves that same question. That "Chief" was paid $30,000.00 on salary and was never there. He works part-time in every other jurisdiction you can think of which was were one of our two Brant Police cars could be found on any given day. Then when they were forced through public outcry to change their ways, this individual was made an officer and still paid that same amount because he has an un-certified police dog. The dog was making more per hour than our police officers were. The current, qualified Chief is only getting paid $15,600.00 per year. Something is going on with the Town Board and the prior "Chief" and we can't get to the bottom of it. He is still getting paid more than the other officers, one of which has been on the force for 30 years and they claims it's because he has a dog. I'm fairly sure that the little Town of Brant can do without a police dog especially when the dog and its handler are not certified through the State of New York. I think this becomes an insurance liability for the Town and any good defense attorney could probably use the "un-certified" argument to have evidence become inadmissible in court. We are still trying to connect the dots on this Police Chief issue but the bottom line is that this matter came to a head when the taxpayers brought this situation into the public Town Board Meetings and to the media. So now, we can't address our Board unless invited....convenient for them I would say.
    Has the TB adopted a version of the military's dont' ask, don't tell philosophy? I wonder what the TB doesn't want the taxpayers to know. Something is being kept secret or covered up. Perhaps someone should look into an audit of town finances. Keep poking around and don't give up-- you folks will eventually find the answers.

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    Audit

    Actually the town is being audited as we speak and has been for the past month...again because it was brought to the attention of the State after the Town Board refused to acknowledge the questions the taxpayers were asking at the Town Board meetings. The public also had to contact Civil Service and I now have a copy of the letter from the Commissioner of Personnel at Civil Service sent to our Supervisor, the Town Board Members and the DA's office which states "Your continued disregard of the law cannot and will not be tolerated." Letter was dated December 5, 2007 and the taxpayers want to know what the Town has done in order to comply with the Civil Service requirements....but of course, we're aren't permitted to ask this or any other question. Now you can see why the Resolution was passed by the Board.

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