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Haxton stays in the spotlight

There was no direct mention during a Monday night Lackawanna City Council meeting of a city lawmaker's sentencing last week for housing code violations, but First Ward Councilwoman Andrea Haxton still managed to be the center of attention.

Amid the mundane business of renewing the city's STOP-DWI contracts with Erie County and approving the annual Bethlehem Park Halloween Parade, there was the usual tug-of-war between Haxton and Council President Charles Jaworski, Haxton and City Attorney Arcangelo J. Petricca, and even Haxton and City Clerk Jacqueline A. Caferro.

Haxton got the maximum $1,000 fine last week for four code violations at a building she owns at 297 Ridge Road.

Monday night, she squabbled with both Jaworski and Caferro over whether minutes are required to be taken during the Council's workshops. Haxton insisted that, according to Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, minutes are required whenever there is a quorum of a public body.

However, Jaworski and Caferro said lawyers for the New York State Conference of Mayors have determined that minutes are not required when such public bodies do not plan to vote on a motion, proposal or resolution.

Later, Haxton tried unsuccessfully to amend a motion directing acting Economic Development Director William Eagan to conduct an independent study on what ought to be done with the vacant Friendship House property, which the city acquired through foreclosure. Haxton wanted a timeline inserted in the resolution, but Petricca argued that was unnecessary.

Haxton also joined some residents in the audience who, during the public comment portion of the meeting, called for the Council to require Eagan to attend bimonthly meetings. Eagan, who is the city's Empire Zone director, also acts as the city's economic development director, but he does not receive a salary for the latter job, according to Jaworski.

Still, it's a source of contention for some residents that Eagan, who also is the Town of Boston supervisor, does not attend City Council meetings.

"He doesn't live in the city. You know I've complained about this so many times. Why can't we just rescind his pay?" said Alex J. David, of Firestone Street.

To which Jaworski replied: "I'll rescind his pay when he's here [as] director of development."

"That's not funny," countered Haxton, who noted that Eagan still receives a $48,000 annual salary as Empire Zone director.

The meeting reached something of a crescendo when Dorrance Avenue resident Gwendolyn McQuiller chastised Jaworski for what she called his disrespectful manner toward Haxton.

"I have a lot of [other] things that I could be doing right now," McQuiller said.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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