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Mohan, Kindel make peace Two meet at home of supervisor-elect

Satish B. Mohan and William L. Kindel made peace Wednesday and vowed to put behind them a controversy involving charges of racism.

"He's a great person," Amherst Council Member Kindel said after the meeting, hastily arranged Wednesday morning by Mohan and held at the supervisor-elect's East Amherst home. "I know he'll do good things for the town, and I want to help him."

Just one day before, Kindel harshly criticized Mohan, who had earlier asked him to publicly apologize for comments he made at a Town Board meeting that some people interpreted as racially tinged.

On Tuesday, Kindel turned the tables on Mohan. He said Mohan was calling him a racist, which Mohan said was incorrect, and demanded the supervisor-elect apologize publicly to him and to Amherst residents.

Reaction was swift and mostly anti-Kindel on Wednesday morning, with calls among residents for his resignation rapidly escalating.

But by noon, neither Kindel nor Mohan was demanding apologies. Nor, they said, were there any hard feelings.

"We have decided to put this thing behind us," said Mohan, a UB engineering professor and native of India.

The change of feelings followed the "get together" with Kindel and his wife, Maureen -- which was followed by a meal of homemade Indian food shared with Mohan's family and friends.

Mohan said he had called Kindel to ask for a meeting because the flap was becoming a distraction and he wanted it to end before being sworn into office Jan. 1.

"I am not demanding anything," Mohan said. "I'm expecting -- and he is promising -- that we will work together."

Kindel first found himself in hot water last week after he publicly scolded Mohan and others for trying to speak without permission as the Amherst Town Board was preparing to vote on contracts Mohan had asked be delayed until he took office.

Kindel, who was leading the effort to ratify the contracts, shouted them down, saying -- as he looked at Mohan -- "This is how we do things in this country. We have laws in this country."

Mohan said he raised his hand because he wanted the board to suspend the rules, a procedure that allows the public to speak when it otherwise would not be allowed to.

Although Kindel privately apologized to Mohan later, Mohan said he received so many calls and e-mails protesting Kindel's comments that he felt the council member should issue a public apology to Amherst residents.

Kindel has steadfastly denied that his words were bigoted, but on Wednesday he and his family continued to receive telephone calls and e-mail branding him a racist.

He said he felt those callers and e-mailers were the bigoted ones. "They're trying to transfer me to what they are," he said.

Mohan said rumors are swirling around Town Hall and on local blog sites, which, he said, are racist and are being used as a "diversion" against him.

"I want to let those people know they will not be successful," he said. "I am focused. I'm here to help."

Kindel and Mohan said they are friends, with Mohan saying the rift "might end up being a blessing in disguise. Now we have seen the worst."

e-mail: ncervantes@buffnews.com

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