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Planners add a member amid objections

Cheektowaga has a new member on its Planning Board this week, despite the objections of some members of the town's Board of Ethics.

The Town Board voted, 5-2, to appoint Claire M. Ferrucci to the board Monday night. Her appointment had been held up two weeks ago by Council Member Thomas M. Johnson, who moved to table it for what he considered a conflict of interest.

Ferrucci is a member of the Cheektowaga-Sloan School Board, while Council Member Alice Magierski, who sponsored the resolution to appoint her, is the treasurer for the school district. Johnson and Council Member Patricia Jaworowicz voted against Ferrucci's appointment.

Planning Board members receive a stipend of $3,397 per year.

The Ethics Committee took the unusual step of sending a memorandum to Town Board members before Monday's meeting stating that all of its members who are not town employees were against the resolution naming Ferrucci to the Planning Board. Ethics Board member Constance Paoletti is an administrative assistant in the Law Department.

"We all feel it should not be given to someone because of patronage, but someone who is qualified and has no ties with the Town Board," the memo said.

Patronage questions were raised by residents two weeks ago when Ferrucci's appointment was considered. When asked if Ferrucci worked on her re-election campaign, Magierski said that she had worked on the campaign for the Democratic team.

"I feel it's unjust," Magierski said Monday night about the patronage charges. "There's no patronage."

Two weeks ago, the board defeated a resolution to appoint another resident, Stanley J. Kaznowski III, by a 4-3 vote. Kaznowski, Ferrucci and former Town Board candidate Charles Markel had been interviewed in private by board members.

Ferrucci pledged to treat each plan fairly and to approve projects only if they benefit the town and its residents.

"She's a very intelligent, knowledgeable and caring person. She pays attention to detail," Magierski said. "I know she's going to be a valuable member of that board."

Town Attorney Michael J. Stachowski said he researched the conflict-of-interest issue and contacted the state comptroller's office about it and determined there was no conflict of interest.

"I don't understand what the Ethics Board is even talking about," he said. "That's not their job."

"I contacted all our people, and they were all against it," said Melvin Florczak, chairman of the Ethics Board. "We think enough is enough."

He said the move appears to be politics as usual, and the members of the board agree.

"Who looks out for the citizens?" said Florczak, who added he is sure he will not be reappointed to the board because he has spoken out as chairman.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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