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PANEL EYES JULY 11 VOTE ON CHARTER

The chairman of the Niagara County Charter Commission plans to hold the panel's final vote on the new form of government July 11 -- if enough members of the commission show up.

They didn't Wednesday, with the lack of a quorum preventing the panel from taking any action or holding any discussion on the points remaining to be settled in the proposed charter, which would provide for a county executive.

It has to pass the commission, the County Legislature and a referendum at the polls in November.

Commission Chairman Samuel P. Granieri, a Democratic legislator from Niagara Falls, said he hopes the charter can be passed July 11 so the Legislature can begin considering it at its July 17 meeting.

The Legislature must hold a public hearing on the charter before it votes. In order to be placed on the November ballot, the charter must clear the Legislature by mid-September.

Only seven of the 14 active members of the commission turned up Wednesday for a meeting that was supposed to include talks with town supervisors to try to calm their concerns about the charter.

However, the supervisors didn't show up either, except for commission members John J. Connolly of Newfane and William Annable of Hartland.

Said Legislator Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls: "We invited them to hear their concerns. Apparently they don't have any, since they didn't show up."

"They weren't going to come in here for an inquisition," Connolly said.

Granieri said three supervisors called the Legislature clerk's office to say that Connolly and Annable were doing a good job of presenting their views.

"I would encourage them to come and voice their concerns," Granieri said, but he added there would be no further invitations for a gathering of all the supervisors with the commission.

The supervisors submitted a letter May 30 listing a half-dozen objections they had to the charter. Most of the subsequent discussion has centered on cost and the alleged loss of town control over the county water and sewer districts.

"I'm disappointed that certain members of the commission have chosen to attack me personally and accuse me of sabotaging the charter," Connolly said.

"We never said we would buy a charter until we saw the whole document. If a commission member doesn't look at the whole document, they haven't done their job. I think the supervisors are the only ones who have done that job," Connolly said.

Village of Lewiston Mayor Richard F. Soluri, a commission member, said that he talked to three other village mayors, from Youngstown, Barker and Middleport, and that they all favored the county executive.

"They felt we needed a leader, and they preferred an elected leader," Soluri said. The supervisors have called on the Legislature to appoint a full-time county manager.

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