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Council did Dunkirk no favors

What positive achievements has the Dunkirk Common Council completed in the past year? I have asked myself, residents and other community members this question since November. I wanted to be sure I was not the only person who could not come up with a meaningful answer. One common answer I did receive by many was “they put on a great show twice a month.”

At day one, upon being sworn in to begin their term in 2020 it has been one negative thing after another. The council started 2020 by terminating three individuals who they deemed nonessential, for lack of a better word. How is the city attorney nonessential? This action by the council was foreshadowing of what the future would entail. The council is elected to maintain checks and balances, but they act more like a control board and want all the power.

One has to ask, why did they make changes to the city budget when their changes did not affect the bottom line? Why did they decrease the amount of money so drastically from the city attorney line which resulted in a huge decrease in his wages? Is this the council’s way of trying to get our lawyer to resign? What vendetta does the council have against him?

The money taken from the city lawyer was used, in part to fund a $10,000 legal fund for the council. The council obtained Dan Gard to represent them in a lawsuit with the city. It was published in the paper the mayor received a cease and desist utilizing grounds for not following Roberts’ Rules during council meetings. This was drafted by Mr. Gard though the topic is totally unrelated to the current lawsuit. This notice should have been written by the city attorney. Did the Common Council privately pay Mr. Gard for this communication or was taxpayer money used for a matter unrelated to what Mr. Gard was obtained for?

Mr. Gard earned a salary of at least $54,807 from the village of Fredonia per the latest information on SeeThroughNY. It is interesting Mr Gard resigned his position with the village after the Dunkirk attorney’s salary was substantially decreased. The difference in pay between the two attorneys is just under $10,000.

Coincidence?

If the council wanted to take out the “extra padding” in the attorney line, why didn’t they only decrease the line to the attorney’s then current salary? This is representative of the vindictiveness of the council who is hiding behind the rational for the cut in pay is related to lack of a resolution for the pay increase. I ask, if the mayor submits a resolution or whatever needs to be done, to increase the attorney’s salary back to his most recent pay, would the council vote in favor? After all, “the money is in contingency and can be put back if needed” The words of the Common Council when they moved the money out.

I wonder why Mark Woods was not removed from the council meeting as the mayor was in December.

The councilman at-large informed everyone they would be removed from the meeting if they spoke without being recognized. I heard Mr. Woods interrupt or interject during Marsha Beach’s explanation of the budget. Though he was warned twice to wait his turn, Mr. Woods not only interrupted again, but approached the podium. He was allowed to stay. When the mayor attempted to assist Mrs. Beach, he was given one warning and then ejected from the meeting. A council meeting is not the place to have the budget explained;the budget should have been discussed and explained during budget meetings.

Taxpayers have the right to know what the Common Council achieved during the year 2020 for the betterment of the city. One positive was approving a raise for Rebecca Wurster. However, all the money in the world is not enough to entice a person to stay in a volatile workplace. She was extremely instrumental in the revitalization of Dunkirk, but continuously walking on eggshells takes its toll. Never knowing if or when the current council will terminate you is a very difficult environment to work in. We have many great people working for our city who are not protected by a union, please prevent any more exits of these dedicated individuals.

With this new year it is my hope the current council will keep their egos at home for the betterment of Dunkirk. The city was progressing so well and COVID is not the only road block. I believe if everyone channels their energy toward Dunkirk’s progress the residents will see great things again.

Carl Lis is a Dunkirk resident.

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