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No-shows did a disservice to public and Labor Council

On May 24, the Niagara Orleans Central Labor Council sponsored a Legislative Town Hall Meeting, which was open to the public. The council sent letters to all Niagara County and Orleans County legislators and to the state legislators representing the two counties. The letters were followed up by emails and, in some cases, telephone calls.

The meeting was a success, and it featured some spirited discourse between the legislators or their representatives and the public.

We would like to publicly thank those who attended: Niagara County Legislators Owen Steed, Jason Zona, Dennis Virtuoso; Philip Mohr, from State Sen. Mark Grisanti's office; Jayleen Carney from Assemblyman Steve Hawley's office; and Ryan Undercoffer from Rep. Louise Slaughter's office.

Niagara County Legislator William McNall had indicated that he would be attending but had to cancel due to a family emergency. Assemblyman John Ceretto indicated that he was unable to attend due to a death in the family. Niagara County Legislators Cheree Copelin, Clyde Burmaster and David Godfrey, Orleans County Legislator Kenneth Rush and Assemblywoman Jane Corwin had the courtesy to advise the council that they would not be attending. Niagara County Legislator William Ross said that he couldn't commit to attending, and he followed through by not attending. A representative of State Sen. George Maziarz had called to say that the senator would be able to attend for the first hour of the program, but for some reason, George did not appear.

Some people attending the meeting as members of the public were asked by one of the legislators to join the panel. They were: Robert Restaino, an Assembly candidate; Amy Witryol, a State Senate candidate; and Town of Niagara Councilman Marc Carpenter.

The council would like the residents of Niagara and Orleans counties to know that the following individuals did not respond in any manner to the invitation: Niagara County Legislators John Syracuse, Paul Wojtaszek, Michael Hill, Anthony Nemi, Peter Smolinski, Richard Updegrove and Kathryn Palka-Lance; and Orleans County Legislators David Callard, George Bower, Don Allport, William Eick, Lynne Johnson and Henry Smith Jr.

The attendees at the meeting were the constituents of these elected officials. I would be rather upset if I had written a letter to my legislator, followed it up with an email and a phone call, only to receive no response at all. I would have second thoughts about voting for this person who has shown me absolutely no courtesy.

To me, the most troubling aspect of our attempt to have the public interact with our elected officials was the fact that 50 percent of the elected officials we invited did not have the decency to respond to the invitation. It makes you wonder if the nonresponders would have appeared if they were told that they would be receiving a campaign contribution at the event.

Richard C. McIntyre


Niagara Orleans Central Labor Council AFL-CIO