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Another Voice: Evans Taxpayers United seeks referendum on town police

By John Calleri
and Stan Radwan

Some days ago, the citizens of Evans beat back the power of money and inside politicians. They voted to keep our Town Board at three despite the frantic and well-financed campaign of the town’s Democratic and Republican parties to upsize to five.

The parties mailed fliers to all Evans voters and placed half-page ads in the PennySaver the weeks before the vote. We on the other side had no funds to spend. Yet all their efforts failed, as we had known they would. The ads, the referendum, and the vote came from the Evans Town Board’s fiction that a citizen groundswell had brought this all to pass. The truth is that party insiders had scraped together 125 signatures and three supporting letters, in a town of 16,000, enough to satisfy the board, but not the Erie County Board of Elections, which called them insufficient and the petition invalid in a letter dated May 18, 2017. Despite this, board members of both parties voted for the referendum.

It’s clear the Evans political parties do not know the Evans people.

We think that we are closer to their pulse. Since August, members of our group, Evans Taxpayers United (ETU), and other citizens have been listening to them from the north in Derby to the south in Angola, on porches and in garages, in front of lawnmowers and in doorways. We have found that they are angry, and tired of debt and taxes. They have listened to us as well, and are open to a different way in Evans.

In 2016, Erie County gave a $980,000 short-term loan to Evans, which County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw described as a town on the “brink of financial collapse” (December 2016). To help pay for this, homeowners paid a 20 percent tax hike the last two years, and will pay another tax hike this year.

Our plan brings hope to them and to the town government. For unlike the parties’ upsize plan that would have added $80,000 yearly to the town budget, our citizens’ plan will cut up to $1 million yearly from it. It will keep our police in Evans but consolidate them into the Erie County Sheriff’s Department. It also calls for public hearings followed by a referendum.

When we have finished going door-to-door with our petition, we will have 10 times the number of signatures the insiders gathered to get their upsize vote.

What will the Evans Town Board do when they receive those signatures? Will they hold the public hearings? Will they hold the referendum? Will they turn their backs and listen to the insiders?

Or will the Evans Town Board do the right thing and listen to the Evans people?”

John Calleri is an Evans resident and long-standing member of Evans Taxpayers United. Stan Radwan is an Evans resident and retired law enforcement official with 35 years on the job.

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