No matter what this fall's outcome in the heated race between incumbent County Executive Gorski and Republican challenger Joel A. Giambra might be, Boston Town Assessor William A. Eagan has assured himself that he will be employed.
That fact hasn't sat well with Town Supervisor Lisa M. Rood, and the two squared off over that issue and Eagan's job performance for the town Wednesday during a regular meeting of the Town Board.
Eagan, in the midst of his six-year appointment as town assessor, accepted a county-level position in the Gorski administration earlier this summer and successfully petitioned the board in July for a four-month leave of absence, which was granted by a 3-1 vote. Supervisor Rood was the lone dissenting vote.
Eagan's leave began Aug. 1 and will run through the end of November. He currently serves as Erie County's assistant director of the Center for Cooperative Economic Growth.
"I did pretty much think it was a self-serving decision," Ms. Rood said. "He said he didn't think he'd be back and we should try to find someone who would come on. But, he wanted this as a backup, if Gorski loses."
"I didn't think he was leaving at a real opportune time -- when we have to get all the tax rolls in to begin budget numbers and do the school taxes," she said. "He wants his cake, and he wants to eat it, too, and it's not fair to the people of the Town of Boston."
By law, Eagan is within his right to request a leave of absence for the county post. And, in order to assure he will have a job despite November's election results, Eagan makes no apologies for his decision to take the leave rather than tendering a resignation.
"I think I made a prudent decision by trying to protect my family," Eagan said. "I wouldn't know whether, at Thanksgiving, it would be Spam or turkey (by resigning).
"Had I not done a good job for this community, I'd be embarrassed to ask for a leave. I put my time in here and earned every penny," he said.
Eagan, in addressing the board, took offense to statements made pubicly by Ms. Rood at the town's July and August meetings. At the time of the board's consideration of the leave in July, Ms. Rood stated that Eagan's decision put the town in a "tough position" and suggested he consider a full resignation. She reiterated those sentiments to Eagan on Wednesday.
"I did not put the town in any harm's way," Eagan replied to Ms. Rood, demanding a public apology for those and other comments made by the supervisor.
"A person was filled in the position by Aug. 1. The harm's way that you speak of is a moot point because it didn't happen," he said.
Last month, Ms. Rood criticized Eagan for failing to inform the board of a change in the policy in which assessment matters are adjudicated at the judicial level. Eagan contends he was not privy to such information and blasted the supervisor for questioning his performance.
"The corker was when my 12-year-old kid (by reading a newspaper article) thought I was not doing my job. At that point it was too much. That was not the case," Eagan said. "I felt it was uncalled for and unprofessional for (the supervisor) to do that."
Nevertheless, Ms. Rood remains steadfast in her belief that Eagan should have known and should have made the board aware.
Eagan said he will offer proof of his position and demand an apology at the next Town Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15.