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Mayor prodded on poor attendance

"Where's the mayor?" resident Michele Fehmer of Martin Avenue asked the Blasdell Village Board on Wednesday.

It is a question, village trustees say, they are tired of being asked. In response, the board, 4-0, unanimously passed a resolution calling for Mayor Ernest J. Jewett to improve his attendance at village work sessions and board meetings or face a demand that he resign.

The board, furthermore, directed the village administrator to withhold future salary payments to the mayor until his attendance increases to a minimum or 90 percent by July 31.

Trustee Jeffrey Adrian said Jewett has missed 27 of the last 36 board meetings or work sessions.

"The board has been toiling over this issue for months," said Adrian, who called it a disservice to village residents and an impediment to village operations.

Unsigned and unapproved documents, necessary for the continued operation of the village, are piling up in Village Hall, said Village Administrator Janet Plarr, who added it t makes her job much harder.

Attempts by both Plarr and the village attorney to contact Jewett have been unsuccessful, Adrian said. However, none of the trustees have tried to contact him.

In March, when residents first raised concerns about the absentee mayor, the board acknowledged the problem but admitted it was actually "easier to work in his absence."

Speaking to The Buffalo News at the time, Jewett defended his record, saying that he missed the meetings because of a change in his work schedule as a corrections officer and for health reasons.

He added that prior to these problems, he hadn't missed more than 12 meetings in his 15 years in office.

The last meeting the mayor attended was on Feb. 3, when the director of the Blasdell Recreation Department resigned, lambasting members of the Village Board for micromanagement while praising Jewett for his handling of the department.

Adrian pointed to state law that says the board is supposed to "compel" another board member to attend future meetings.

If Jewett doesn't turn around his absenteeism by July 31, the resolution said, the board will request his resignation.

The mayor, who earns $6,954 a year, is in the last year of his four-year term, which expires next March.

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