DUNKIRK Open decision, dark revision

In the dark — without public scrutiny — Dunkirk Common Council and other city leaders made a decision to break a law. After approving the resolution in the spring for a public referendum on increasing council members’ terms from two to four years, it happened.

Council members and the city attorney decided to move the vote from 2018 to 2019 behind closed doors. The only reason we know this happened is because Shaun Heenan, Third Ward council member, questioned last month why the referendum did not take place in November.

Richard Morrisroe, city attorney, said it was a group decision of sorts. “We held off because it wasn’t a city election cycle year, and in consult with the Board of Elections, we thought turnout would be better, and we’d get a better response, if we waited until there was a city election; so we held off until 2019 to put that on the ballot,” he said.

But the 2018 election brought out a significant number of voters, partially because of the mid-term federal elections. What city leaders likely — and definitely council members — were concerned about was a strong Republican slate. No Democrat won election in any of the local races for Congress, state Assembly or county sheriff.

That potential scenario had some impact on the city’s closed-door decision to not publicly change the vote. So, it was done illegally and now — two months from when the referendum was supposed to occur — council is “fixing” what is an unethical and fairly secret action.

How comforting, yet despicable.

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