Weekly Feature

2011-02-10 / Front Page

Supervisor denies promotion; board members deny favor


Council members refused to play the game of politics Monday night when Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski asked for a favor in exchange for approving an appointment.

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The favor was to appoint Joseph Lorigo — son of attorney Ralph Lorigo, who has a professional and personal history with the supervisor — as town prosecutor.

The appointment would have been a promotion for Michael Meegan, husband of board member Sheila M. Meegan, to working crew chief in the Buildings and Grounds Department. He’s worked in that department for roughly 20 years.

When Councilman Dale F. Clarke made the motion for the appointment at the beginning of the meeting, Sheila M. Meegan, who later said she should have acknowledged publicly that the matter was in regard to her spouse, recused herself from voting without saying a word.

She looked to the supervisor for a “second” to the motion, but he also remained quiet.

Since the board has only three members — a result of downsizing — the motion failed.

This prompted a short executive session early Monday night, as well as a second, nearly two-hour executive session at the end of the meeting. When the board returned, the motion failed a second time.

Michael Meegan was one of three vying for the position, which has been vacant since September as the result of the retirement of Don Doctor. In the interim, a “more senior member” of the Buildings and Grounds Department is serving in the post.

Clarke later said during the meeting that Piotrowski would not approve that appointment unless at least one council member — again, due to downsizing — voted for Lorigo to serve as town prosecutor.

This would mean Town Attorney Shawn P. Martin would relinquish the additional duties of prosecutor.

“A big injustice has been done,” said Clarke, adding that the supervisor should quit playing politics or being a part of “the good ol’ boys club.”

“The people of West Seneca wanted us to stop [playing politics] ... so people should know why we’re at a stalemate,” he added.

Piotrowski, who worked for Ralph Lorigo’s law firm roughly 20 years ago, said nothing in response until after the meeting adjourned.

“These types of deals are always made,” the supervisor said, noting that both current as well as former board members have “made the same kinds of deals.”

“So, yes, I think it’s fair,” he said.

Sheila M. Meegan said she’s never once appointed anyone for personal or political gain.

“Since I got into office, [Piotrowski] has been hammering me to put [Joseph Lorigo] in,” she said. “I have 23 resumes from people interested in town prosecutor that have been attorneys for 10-plus years. Lorigo just passed the bar two years ago.”

Piotrowski said the town has previously appointed people “straight out of law school” and that Lorigo is qualified for the role.

In the November elections, Lorigo lost to Jeffrey Harrington in the race for town justice by a difference of about 100 votes.

Clarke praised Meegan’s refusal to take part in the supervisor’s alleged scheme.

He also said after the meeting that Ralph Lorigo might as well be sitting in the supervisor’s chair because “that’s who runs the town.”

Meegan also alleged that in a conversation between her husband and Piotrowski in December, the supervisor said he’d support the appointment; however, Meegan said not getting the promotion isn’t going to change the couple’s world.

“We believed [Piotrowski] would do the right thing,” she added.

In other news, the board appointed:

Robert Pinnavaia as fire inspector at an hourly rate of $21, effective Jan. 25. Pinnavaia previously served as assistant building inspector before accepting the state’s early retirement incentive.

Jeffrey Schieber as code enforcement officer at an annual salary of $50,000, effective Feb. 8.

Linda Boldt as part-time clerk at a rate of $12 per hour. This came at the request of Town Clerk Patricia DePasquale, whose office is in need of additional help after assuming the duties of the Tax Receiver’s Office. The latter was eliminated through a vote by the public in the 2009 elections.

Also during Monday night’s meeting:

The board accepted the retirement of Detective Mark McMahon, who will be leaving his post after 27 years of service with the West Seneca Police Department.

Comptroller Robert J. Bielecki said that WNY AmeriCorps has paid its $8,000 monthly installment for February, as part of its separation agreement with the town.

The board scheduled a special meeting for 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, to continue discussion on the union negotiation.

A work session was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, to continue discussion on sewers. Engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee will provide updated information from a state Department of Environmental Conservation review of the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Manhole No. 1, near the Leydecker Road lift station. e-mail: kmcdowell@beenews.com

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