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Buffalo Board of Education President David B. Kelly today closed the meetings of a five-member ethics panel that he named to investigate the role of Park District member James W. Comerford Jr. in the appointment of a Comerford business associate to a $64,546-a-year job.

In the only business conducted in public, Kelly asked Corporation Counsel Samuel Houston, a panel member, for his opinion on closing the meetings. Houston said the panel can bar the public and press and need keep only "minimal notes."

Sent out of the meeting room, representatives of parents groups questioned both the action and the possibility of a fair decision on the appointment of James M. Kane as executive assistant to the superintendent.

So did Victor Turchiarelli, West District School Board member, who first challenged the appointments of Kane and Brian Hayden, named to a $45,815-a-year post, last month.

"It is nothing more than a whitewash," said Turchiarelli. "On this panel we've got Kelly, who's involved (in the Kane appointment). We've got Mr. Thompson (acting Superintendent Albert Thompson), who's involved. We've got an appointee of the mayor, the corporation counsel."

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