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North Tonawanda Mayor Ronald R. Dawson this week suspended the city's Water Department superintendent for one day, and was instrumental in a one-day suspension of a department employee for a violation of city work rules.

The suspension of Water Department Superintendent Paul F. McDonough and 13-year department employee Mike Cox followed an incident two weeks ago in which Cox, accompanied by another department employee, drove a city truck across the city line to a convenience store in Wheatfield where beer was purchased.

Cox and Richard Giardino reportedly told their boss, McDonough, that the beer was purchased as a gift for another city employee.

According to Dawson, McDonough, who declined comment Thursday night, reprimanded the two employees but did not inform the mayor.

The incident was reported to the mayor by a citizen who said he witnessed the beer purchase in the store. The mayor said Cox, who coincidentally is chairman of the city's Republican Committee, and Giardino, who is a Democratic committeeman, were on a break from working time when they went to Wheatfield.

When Dawson learned of the incident earlier this week he summoned McDonough to explain the incident and why he let the two off with a warning.

McDonough reportedly said he believed the reprimand was sufficient. Dawson disagreed, and insisted that the punishment be increased.

McDonough reportedly refused, and the mayor suspended for a day with pay. Dawson said McDonough subsequently suspended Cox for a day, again with pay, but Giardino was not subjected to a further penalty.

Dawson claims he has the authority under the City Charter to suspend a department head. However, some Common Council members believe the City Charter is superseded by Civil Service law.

City Attorney Henry F. Wojtaszek was asked for an legal opinion on the mayor's authority to suspend a department head. The opinion had not been delivered as of Thursday night, Dawson said.

At a "Meet the Mayor" meeting at City Hall Thursday night, Dawson said he has heard of other abuses by employees since he took office in January, and decided, "It has to stop."

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