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HEARING IS SET ON AMENDING ETHICS POLICY

More than six months ago, town officials started talking about changing Tonawanda's ethics policy to prevent the mingling of political activity and town government.

Later this month, residents will be able to join the debate.

The Town Board agreed Monday to hold a public hearing on amending the Code of Ethics, the first changes to be proposed since the policy was adopted 15 years ago. The town's Ethics Board recently voted unanimously in favor of the changes.

"I'm glad its going to be brought up for a public hearing. It makes for a good way to do business," said Democratic Councilman John J. Flynn, who proposed the amendments. "It protects the town employees, ensuring town politicians do not cross the line."

The public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 25 in the Municipal Building, 2919 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.

According to Flynn, the process of implementing the changes was slowed by a Republican majority trying to prevent him from getting credit for proposing them. He introduced the legislation in September, he said, and received no feedback from the board's Republicans until November, when Town Supervisor Ronald H. Moline, a Republican, suggested that the Ethics Board review it. "That could have been done back in September," Flynn said.

Moline contended that Flynn delayed the legislation by not following through on certain steps and not coordinating with the necessary departments after his December meeting with the Ethics Board. Moline said that after the legislation was introduced, Flynn "never brought it up for further discussion. I'm more than willing to cooperate."

Flynn said the amendments are necessary because decades of Republican dominance in the town have meshed GOP affairs with town government operations. For example, elected officials who are members of the Town Republican Committee in the recent past have contacted town employees to support their fund-raising activities and have used the town's employee mailing list to send invitations to events, Flynn said.

The amendments would prohibit such activities and prevent the use of town letterhead and phones for political purposes.

Town GOP Chairman Angelo J. Sedita has denied that such ethical breaches have occurred during his tenure.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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