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CLARENCE AFFIRMS A RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT TOWN OFFICIALS OFFER RESPONSE TO QUERY ON RETRIBUTION

Clarence employees and residents may speak out on controversies without fear of retribution from Town Hall, according to town officials.

Workers and others who make anonymous complaints about the operation of town government "insult the Town Board" and "rub my sense of justice the wrong way," according to Town Attorney William J. Casilio.

For example, "I wouldn't have any part" in retaliating against a town employee who worked for his opponent in an election, agreed Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Daniel A. Herberger.

Casilio and Herberger were replying to Anne Case of Clarence Center, who raised two issues at Wednesday's board meeting -- the appointment of the supervisor's daughter-in-law as town historian and the board's recent approval of fully paid medical insurance upon retirement for all elected officials who serve at least two terms.

Mrs. Case, who ran for councilwoman on the Democratic ticket last November, said she was speaking not only for herself, but for a number of residents, including at least one town employee who had contacted her.

She said the callers feared retribution if their names became known to town officials.

Mrs. Case charged that the appointment of Supervisor Irving W. "Skip" Grenzebach's daughter-in-law, Laura Grenzebach, as town historian Jan. 3 violated long-standing town policy that all job openings be posted at least 10 days in town offices.

The supervisor and other officials replied after the meeting that the policy applies to union job openings.

Mrs. Case also criticized the board's new medical-insurance policy for elected officials and full-time, non-union employees. Ten elected officials and 30 employees are affected, officials said Thursday.

The town will pay 100 percent of the medical insurance costs upon the retirement of elected officials who serve at least two terms in office.

All elected officials serve four-year terms, except the office of supervisor, who serves a two-year term. That means that a supervisor who serves four years and councilmen -- classified as part-time officials -- who serve eight years qualify for paid-up medical insurance upon retirement, officials said.

Mrs. Case contrasted the new policy for elected officials with that of the 30 non-union employees, ranging from department heads to clerk-typists.

Retiring non-union workers must have more than 10 years employment to receive 50 percent of the cost of their medical insurance and more than 15 years for 75 percent.

She noted that a non-union employee must work more than 20 years to receive the 100 percent medical-insurance coverage that a part-time town councilman qualifies for after 8 years.

Grenzebach questioned whether the town's four councilmen actually are part-time. "They put in a heck of a lot of time," he said.

"I you asked me, I would say I'm full-time, part-time," Herberger said. "For all intents and purposes," councilmen are like police officers in that they're "on call 24 hours a day."

Grenzebach said the medical-insurance decision was a unanimous decision of the Town Board -- a remark apparently aimed at a running mate of Mrs. Case's in the last election, Democratic Councilman Daniel M. Gregorio, who was absent.

"Oh, I'm sure it was," Mrs. Case replied.

On the subject of town officials taking revenge against employees or residents who criticize them, Herberger said, "I think Anne knows that's not true." He pointed to examples of town employees who worked on Mrs. Case's campaign.

"An employee here who is doing his or her job" is entitled to speak their mind on public issues "and will have no problem with me," Herberger told Mrs. Case.

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