A resolution calling for the resignation of Councilman James P. Rogowski was approved Tuesday by the Cheektowaga Town Board during a regular meeting that ended in a raucous debate interrupted several times by applause from an overflow audience.
The resolution stipulated that if Rogowski does not step down by midnight Wednesday, the town would commence a lawsuit to force his removal.
Rogowski, who pleaded guilty Sept. 5 to a misdemeanor in connection with a domestic violence incident earlier this year, vehemently objected to the resolution. Rogowski vowed he would not relinquish the seat he’s held since 2005.
“It’s very disheartening the board would publicize and politicize my legal troubles. I am not surprised,” Rogowski said, reading from a prepared statement. “There’s been a calculated effort to discredit me and paint me as being a derelict in my duties as town council member from the moment these charges were brought against me. Not once have I neglected the taxpayers of this town.”
Rogowski did not endorse the resolution sponsored by Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski and approved by all board members.
Councilman Gerald Kaminski, an ally of Rogowski on the town board, called it "one of the hardest things I've done."
Benczkowski was not smiling, either.
“It was something we could not let go of,” Benczkowski said. “We got the opinion of legal specialists and we took a stand. It was not easy for me."
State Assemblywoman Monica Wallace and Jeremy J. Zellner, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, both issued statements last week urging Rogowski to resign immediately.
Deputy Town Supervisor Brian Nowak on Friday renewed the same call to resign he issued in February.
Mary Travers Murphy, executive director of the Family Justice Center, a nonprofit organization that offers support services to the victims of domestic violence and children, said: “Domestic violence is a crime and we, as a community, cannot condone it. It’s up to all of us, from every segment of society, to hold perpetrators accountable no matter who they are."
Murphy said, "This is a public health crisis. The only way to stop it is to let abusers know – in no uncertain terms – there is a price to pay for this illegal behavior and there will be serious consequences.”
Rogowski remains on paid administrative leave from his position as a high school technology instructor with the Lockport City School District. He was placed on administrative leave by the Lockport Board of Education on Feb. 28.
He is the son of William P. Rogowski, who served on the Cheektowaga Town Board for more than 20 years.
“My determination to serve the Town of Cheektowaga remains unwavering,” Rogowski said. “I will not resign.”