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New Hamburg supervisor sets tone at first meeting: 'I'm not getting rolled over'

Majority can rule, but Hamburg's new supervisor laid down the law — literally — to the board's majority during a work session before the new Town Board's reorganization meeting Monday.

"If we're going to run a board meeting tonight and in the future, we're going to run it pursuant to law. I'm not getting rolled over, OK?" Supervisor James M. Shaw said.

As the board sat down to go through the 55-item agenda, Councilwoman Beth Farrell had handed out different agendas that included amendments to appointments she and two other councilmen, Michael Petrie and Michael Mosey, wanted to make to the supervisor's agenda.

Shaw, who makes up a Democratic minority with Councilman Tom Best Jr., told them they could make the amendments during the regular meeting, but could not submit their own agenda.

That came after Shaw said he was "insulted" by a majority proposal to replace two members of the board of the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency.

"What's the rationalization for taking these two guys off? You wanted to remove the Democratic labor guys, is that the idea?" Shaw asked.

"Absolutely not. We're looking for a business friendly atmosphere in this," Mosey said.

"I don't particularly think it's appropriate just to dump them, based upon your unilateral threesome decision," Shaw said. He added: "You've got the votes. You do what you want to do."

The IDA changes were not brought up at the regular meeting.

Farrell said the board would discuss the IDA further, to help ensure there is a broad perspective represented on the agency's board.

Shaw said he had the impression the three majority board members had been meeting "rather consistently" after Jan. 1 to come up with the appointments, and may also have been meeting with one or both of the prospective town attorneys.

"If I'm wrong, please correct me," Shaw said.

No one replied.

Shaw said the meetings involving the three board members could violate the Open Meetings Law, and that while former Supervisor Steven Walters and Kenneth Farrell were not appointed town attorney and deputy town attorney until Monday, prospective attorneys meeting with just a few board members violates the spirit of the law and the spirit of their duties.

"I don't want the town attorney or the deputy town attorney to function as if they were counsel to the majority. That's not their role. Their role is to provide objective, and fair advice to the Town Board as a whole without favoritism," Shaw said, before he and Best voted against the appointments.

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