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CITY OFFICIALS SAY FREE TICKETS NOT A VIOLATION

Mayor James C. Galie and a number of city officials received $60 tickets and attended last week's Rolling Stones concert as guests of the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp., but they generally agreed that they had broken no law and had violated no code of ethics.

Redevelopment corporation officials said Wednesday they invited city and community leaders to the concert to familiarize them with the kind of work Michael Kohl does. Kohl is the executive producer of the Rolling Stones' World Tour. Richard T. Reinhard, chief operating officer of the redevelopment group, and Paul A. Grenga, general counsel, said the developers want Kohl to bring "world-class" entertainment events to the Convention & Civic Center here.

The redevelopment corporation is a group of investors, many of them from Canada, which has signed a contract with the city to take over a number of city facilities, including the convention center, as part of a plan to bring at least $130 million in development to the downtown area over the next eight years.

In addition to Galie, some of those attending the concert included City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino, Senior City Planner Thomas J. DeSantis and Council Chairman Vince V. Anello. Most of them said they received two tickets each and they took spouses or family members to the concert. Anello said he received three tickets. Galie and Restaino rode to the concert in a limousine provided by the redevelopment corporation.

Corporation Counsel Robert P. Merino and Dan R. Gagliardo, director of inspections and environmental services, said they also received tickets but gave them away.

State law and the city's Code of Ethics do not allow municipal officers and employees to "accept or receive any gift having a value of $75 or more . . . under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him or could reasonably be expected to influence him, in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part."

Despite the fact that the price of two or more tickets exceeded the $75 limit, none of the officials reached believed they violated the Code of Ethics or state law.

"The gift has to be given with the intent of influencing someone in their official duties," Merino said. He said it is possible but difficult to prove intent.

Restaino said the idea that concert tickets could influence him is ridiculous. Restaino said that he, Galie and Larry Krizan, the city's development chief, also attended the Michael Johnson-Donovan Bailey race in the Toronto SkyDome in June as guests of the development group headed by Edwin A. Cogan, who helped to develop the sports dome.

Restaino said he wasn't familiar with what the limit on gifts was when he accepted them. He said while he didn't believe gifts, such as the tickets, would influence him or the city department heads in question, he said since the issue has been raised, he would now "have to look at it differently and I will put out a directive reminding people what the code of ethics is."

Galie was out of town and could not be reached to comment.

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