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Editorial: Pay for personal use of Hamburg car

Hamburg Highway Superintendent Ted Casey finds himself back in the spotlight for skirting, skating and tripping over the rules of the road – of both political and commonsense variety.

Casey has drawn the ire of town employees and, of course, political rivals. He hands his detractors political ammunition. The latest kerfuffle involves his personal use of a town-owned vehicle.

That is to say, his continued use of the vehicle since he drove the town SUV to Philadelphia in May 2018 and got stopped for running a red light. Town officials found out about it when the city sent the ticket to the town.

Casey did not stop driving the town vehicle after hours. On the evening of Nov. 9, a town employee snapped a photo of the black Ford Expedition outside Regal Quaker Crossing in Orchard Park. Casey said he had a long day at the office and on a Saturday, to boot. Plus, he said, needs the emergency-equipped vehicle since he’s on call 24/7.

Casey is nothing if not resolute in his determination to use the town vehicle as he chooses. It has also been sighted outside a golf course, at Woodlawn Beach State Park during a highway superintendent’s party and at a restaurant. If he went to Wanakah Country Club or a restaurant, Casey told a reporter last month, it was to meet with a resident about a highway issue.

Such a thin excuse strains credulity. Worse, it insults residents who pay for the vehicle. As Supervisor James M. Shaw said earlier, “It was almost as if he was thumbing his nose at us.” And at voters, too. Remember when he hired his son as a laborer after campaigning hard against nepotism?

The trip to Regal Quaker Crossing, which Casey helpfully added is 6.2 miles from his house, proved the last straw for the five-member town board of both Democrats and Republicans, who unanimously voted to bar him from using his highway department vehicle for 60 days.

The Town Board said he violated town policy by taking his car to the movies. Casey took the fight to the State Supreme Court. Last month, Justice Dennis E. Ward granted a temporary restraining order at Casey’s request.

State Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita III has made some suggestions on how to resolve the disagreement, Shaw said. Still, the town wants to install a GPS monitoring device on the town-owned vehicle. Casey, of course, is against the idea. So are we.

This is ridiculous. Settle the matter by requiring the highway superintendent to pay the federal mileage rate when using the town’s vehicle for personal reasons. Or even give him a rate.

Hamburg’s residents deserve better than to watch their elected officials bickering over who gets to drive what vehicle and when. Figure it out and move on.

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