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FIRST CHANGES TO ETHICS CODE IN 15 YEARS APPROVED

The first changes in 15 years to the Town of Tonawanda Code of Ethics were approved Monday night, with amendments prohibiting political activities on government property and involving town employees.

The Town Board voted unanimously to amend the Ethics Code after a public hearing during the board's meeting that yielded no comments from the public.

The amendments prohibit such activities as soliciting town employees to support and attend fund-raising events and prevent the use of the town letterhead and phones for political purposes.

"This will especially help rank-and-file town employees," said Democratic Councilman John J. Flynn, who proposed the changes in September. "It will relieve the pressure from any group in order to get benefits or promotions."

Flynn said he introduced the amendments in hopes of preventing a long-standing practice of Republican political affairs mingling with town operations made easy because of the GOP's historical dominance in the town.

It took more than six months for the legislation to reach the adoption stage. Flynn had said the delay was caused by the board's majority Republicans, who at first weren't interested and then later didn't want him to get the credit.

"I'm glad it's finally done," Flynn said. "It's going to be a great benefit to the town, to prohibit future improper activities."

But Republicans have disagreed that the process was purposely slowed.

"It takes time to consider changes to local laws," said Republican Supervisor Ronald H. Moline. He had suggested last November that the Ethics Board review the amendments. He said the body provided valuable input.

Moline said the Ethics Board members raised pertinent questions that helped enhance the amendments.

He added that work is still being done with the Ethics Board and the Legal Department to iron out implementation.

"This is going to take some time before it's fully implemented. I'm confident it will be," Moline said.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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