Hamburg Mayor John S. Thomas and other trustees ripped into Trustee Thomas D. Bard Monday night over his failure to be a team player on the clear plastic garbage bag issue.
"We have an elected official on this board who needs to address his concerns to the board," Thomas said. "I'm pretty ticked when an elected official doesn't speak with the board and staff, when it is taken elsewhere . . . (such as) the media."
"I don't know if he's angry over adverse publicity he got over the clear garbage bags. I had nothing to do with it," Bard said. "Despite the personal attack John Thomas and the board threw at me I'm going to continue to listen to the public."
The village has come under scrutiny and some public ridicule after one resident challenged the requirement that garbage be placed in clear plastic bags to encourage recycling. It has been the subject of several radio talk shows, and both Bard and Thomas were interviewed on live radio programs.
The mayor also accused Bard of directing a motorcycle rally protesting the clear bags down the mayor's street last month.
"I had nothing to do with calling radio stations to let them know about the situation," Bard said, denying that he directed motorcycles past the mayor's house.
Thomas said the clear plastic bags were discussed on and off throughout 1998. He said that Bard did not voice any opposition to the policy when it was being discussed by the board, but did tell The Buffalo News last March he opposed the program. He also said Bard has taken credit for obtaining recycling bins for village residents, but that the bins have been discussed by every Village Board since 1993.
When the Village Board approved the clear trash bag policy at its April 19 meeting, Bard spoke against and voted against the requirement. But the mayor and Trustee Thomas P. Tallman noted that Bard voted in favor of the next motion, which amended the solid waste policy given to residents to include the requirement that opaque bags would not be picked up after June 1.
"Everyone knows how I feel about clear plastic bags," Bard said.
"Then why did you vote for the policy not to pick up garbage if it was not in clear plastic bags?" Tallman said. "If you voted for the policy, are you micro-managing? Are you treating people like children?"
"I'm concerned about how people communicate," Thomas said. "I was elected to work with four other people. I'm concerned about the politics. I'm concerned about a Joel Giambra sign on the back of a truck at the end of the motorcycle rally. What the heck is going on?"
Bard is seeking election to the Hamburg Town Board in the November election with the Republican endorsement.
Thomas also defended the leasing of a four-wheel drive vehicle for Public Works Superintendent Gerald E. Knoll. Former Mayor David Saunders asked why he had the vehicle and why it did not have a village seal placed on it.
The village is leasing a Ford Expedition for Knoll and a Dodge Durango for Police Chief Dennis Gleason, and neither vehicle has a village seal.
The mayor said both vehicles are used for personal use. Knoll has had a vehicle for personal use as a term of his employment, and had a village seal on the car for only two of 18 years he has worked for the village, the mayor said. Gleason and Knoll keep track of and pay income taxes for the personal use of the village vehicles, he said.
"There should be a seal on that vehicle," Saunders said of Knoll's vehicle. "The people in this village don't like it that he has personal use of vehicle and he won't put a seal on it."
Bard said when the cost of the lease for Knoll's vehicle went above the budgeted $3,600, he thought the village should rethink getting the Expedition.
The village projected it would save about $34,000 this year by going to the clear plastic bags. So far, it has saved $9,677 in reduced solid-waste disposal costs and increased revenue from additional recycling in the first quarter the bags were used.
Thomas said none of the money saved from moving to clear plastic bags was used to hire a part-time public works employee or for Knoll's vehicle, as Bard and others have charged.
"The money still comes from the public and the taxpayer," Bard said. "It seems to me John Thomas is trying to stifle any opposition voice towards the board."
"If clear plastic bags are an issue, we have a great village," Thomas said. "How minute. . . . Why this has become such an issue, I don't know."