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VanDenVouver blasts ‘inflammatory’ responses on city tree probe

Submitted photo This picture of wood from a tree cut in 2019 was included in a report made public by Common Council.

Dunkirk’s top council member says the administration of Mayor Wilfred Rosas is playing the role of a “magician who distracts the audience with his right hand, while hiding the ball with his left” when it comes to the removal of a tree done by city workers on private property.

Paul VanDenVouver, councilman at-large, in a statement to the OBSERVER says he and council are looking for answers, not excuses after he released an eight-page report by council attorney Dan Gard that alleges there was work done in 2019 by city Department of Public Works employees over three days in August on private property. Gard’s recommendation in the report of the “large, unjustifiable and unconstitutional gift of municipal resources to a private individual” was to refer this matter to the appropriate enforcement agencies, recommending both the state comptroller’s office as well as the FBI’s Public Corruption Division.

VanDenVouver, during the April 20 council meeting, said the probe was done in response to council allegedly receiving reports from city residents about the happenings on Aug. 5, 6 and 15, 2019, at 10 Finch St. in the city. VanDenVouver, during that same meeting, said the work included 100 hours of manpower and four pieces of city equipment in the project that was estimated to cost taxpayers between $6,000 and $8,000.

Here is a portion of his response:

“Since the Perry Street report was made public, there have been several very inflammatory responses from the city administration. Our search for answers has been described as vindictive, malicious, character assignation, and the, ‘lowest level of human indecency.’ We’ve heard all about what horrible people we are for questioning the fact that public resources were utilized for private ends.

“But, like the magician who distracts the audience with his right hand, while hiding the ball with his left, the mayor believes that the residents of Dunkirk are going to be distracted by name calling and mischaracterizations. We urge the residents to read the report … and then examine the responses. Watch the attempts to make the ball disappear.”

Click to view the full report below:

Perry St. Investigation Report

“Amid the pages of disparaging remarks and accusations, there are few facts. Instead of answering the question, ‘Who ordered the project?’ we are told that neither the mayor nor the DPW director are involved in the routine actions of the DPW. The mayor states that “Our DPW Streets supervisor schedules these tasks to his staff.” But, the investigation revealed that Streets Supervisor Mike Porpiglia was on vacation when this project was ordered. In fact, in a March 29 comment to our attorney, Randy Woodbury (DPW director) stated, ‘Polygraph me any time, I gave you all I know but I have theories I will keep checking. Mike and I frequently call in during days off but if either of us knew of this project we would have stopped it.’ So, who ordered the project?”

A report compiled by Woodbury is below:

Photo additions to tree analysis

Complete story in Friday’s edition.

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