Families were drawn into the bitter contest for Cheektowaga supervisor Wednesday, as incumbent Dennis H. Gabryszak came out with a list of 10 people on the town payroll he said are relatives or former relatives of his opponent, Councilman William P. Rogowski.
Together, Rogowski's relatives earn $151 an hour, or $430,882 a year, in salary and fringe benefits, Gabryszak said.
The supervisor said the list includes Rogowski's brother, two sisters-in-law, five nephews, a cousin and a former sister-in-law.
"I don't think it's unusual to try and help a family member," Gabryszak said, noting that the sons and daughters of many town officials have had seasonal or part-time jobs with the town over the years.
"However, it can get to the point where it's excessive, and when you look and see 10 members of the same family on the full-time payroll, I believe that's excessive," the supervisor declared.
Gabryszak said he has two relatives working for the town, including a cousin hired 10 years before he was first elected to the Town Board. He said his two relatives together make $44.11 an hour and $124,273 a year in salary and fringe benefits.
"Town government shouldn't be a private personnel agency for any Town Board member," Gabryszak said.
Just three of Rogowski's 10 relatives hold a competitive Civil Service position; the rest are Town Board appointees, Gabryszak said. And all but two of the 10 were hired after Rogowski took office in 1980, the supervisor said.
"When you tie this in with the double dipping, you really have to question if Bill Rogowski's priorities lie in doing right for his family or in doing what's best for the town," Gabryszak asserted.
Gabryszak's "double dipping" remark referred to Rogowski's career as a public school teacher. If he also becomes town supervisor, Rogowski will be able to look forward to a combined six-figure retirement income from the two public jobs, Gabryszak said.
Rogowski said Wednesday evening that Gabryszak was "grabbing at straws to try to say something negative about me when there isn't anything negative to say."
He noted that one of the people on the list, Roy Baer Jr., was not a relative.
"Anybody that's hired by the town, it's always a 7-0 vote by the Town Board," Rogowski said. "Gabryszak voted for all those people he mentioned. I voted for his brother-in-law.
"I was told that he and Mike Stachowski, one of our town attorneys, left Town Hall with a complete list of all the town employees last week on town time and went to Mike's office. He and Dennis did this on town time.
"I think if Dennis would spent all this time in his office, he could answer some of the complaints that come in. And Mike hasn't won an assessment challenge in a year. If he directed his time into assessments, maybe he'd win one."
Gabryszak and Rogowski meet in Tuesday's Democratic primary and again in November, because Rogowski also has the Republican Party endorsement.
Gabryszak released this list of Rogowski's relatives, including their relationship, job title, year they were hired, hourly rate and 1998 salary:
John J. Rogowski, brother, general mechanic, 1981, $16.88 and $37,734.
John E. Rogowski, nephew, cleaner, 1995, $14.04 and $26,164.
David J. Surdej, nephew, laborer, 1991, $16.10 and $36,364.
Shawn D. Surdej, nephew, laborer, 1994, $16.10 and $35,211.
Roslyn T. Surdej, sister-in-law, clerk-typist, 1991, $13.87 and $32,600.
Renette Janora, former sister-in-law, senior clerk, 1977, $15.61 and $37,835.
Barbara Kornecki, sister-in-law, senior clerk, 1968, $15.61 and $35,231.
John J. Jaroszewski, nephew, auto mechanic, 1992, $18.07 and $40,778.
Robert Jaroszewski, nephew, motor equipment operator, 1992, $16.88 and $36,842.
Roy Baer Jr., cousin, laborer's aide, 1998, $7.87 and $8,490.
Gabryszak listed his relatives on the payroll as:
Jerome Gabryszak, cousin, community development director, 1974, $27.24 and $56,442.
Eric Carter, wife's brother-in-law, motor equipment operator, 1984, $16.88 and $37,955.