Letter: A tainted petition in Newfane?

A tainted petition in Newfane?

Editor of the Reformer:

What is going on here? The Newfane Select Board has accepted a petition for a re-vote on the same Town Office Building Bond issue that was just defeated in August by a large majority of the voters. To accept a petition at all for a second chance to reverse the majority's decisive vote is a slap in the face to the voters of Newfane. To accept such a petition even though the Board had knowledge that an unknown number of signatures on the petition were unethically, and perhaps even illegally, collected by a Town Official inside the Town Office is unconscionable.

The only way to accept that enough legal signatures were on the petition is to be willing to assume that the same town official who coerced signatures in the Town Office in the first place can be trusted in asserting that there were sufficient legal signatures. Would any of us say such an assumption is reasonable and prudent? I don't think so.

The Board knows from residents' statements that a town elected official accosted people who had come into the office to transact other business to sign the petition. The Select Board was told about this by Newfane residents at its first September meeting and again at its Sept. 19 meeting. Who knows how many people may have signed the petition under pressure from this town official? The answer: There is absolutely no way to know.

It certainly has become very clear that one of our elected officials is a partisan of the bond issue and wants to keep pushing it even though a majority of the voters has already turned it down. I think it is highly inappropriate for the Board not to support and defend the vote of the majority on this issue by instead accepting a clearly tainted petition poisoned by the highly questionable machinations of a town official. It is especially inappropriate to call for a re-vote on the basis of a flawed petition which contains an unknown number of names solicited unethically by a town official within the Town Office.

The Select Board says it is required by law to accept the tainted petition. Well, we are all required by law to pay our credit card bills — but we are not required to pay any fraudulent charges. Isn't a petition submitted containing an unknown number of signatures obtained inappropriately just as subject to legal challenge as a fraudulent credit card charge? Can the Select Board really be required legally to turn a blind eye to this?

I urge my fellow Newfane citizens to voice their displeasure to the Select Board about how this issue is being handled and to demand that the voice of the majority be honored and defended by our representatives. It appears that the Board remains insistent on another vote, so please, please, come out and vote again and encourage your family and friends and neighbors to vote as well. It is a shame that in our democracy we are being forced to re-state the majority's will just because some disgruntled individuals and at least one town official continue to press for a "do-over." Apparently the "do-over" bond issue vote will be on the ballot at the general election in November. Please mark your calendars and come vote. In the meantime please let the Select Board and our other town officials know what you think about what's going on. Let them know directly that Newfane expects better of them. And that they owe us that.

Gary Katz, Newfane, Sept. 30


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