By David Yarger
Tuesday night, the North Tonawanda Common Council met for its first meeting of December. At the meeting, Mayor Arthur Pappas issued several agenda items to reappoint 12 volunteers to groups within the city.
The reappointments included Thomas Konopka to the Board of Assessment Review Committee; Donald French and Paul Hempel to the Waterfront Commission; Bradley Rowles, William Petty and Leonard Joyce to the Plumbing Board; Kenneth Braun and Jacob Haacker to the Zoning Board of Appeals; Peter Grinnell to the Planning Commission; Joseph Fonzi to the Historic Preservation Committee; Nathan Sikora as bingo commissioner; and Joseph Midura as city historian.
The reappointments drew the ire of one resident who called it "retreads."
"We have to find people besides the retreads. ... Come on. Year after year, decade after decade, it's the same bodies. ... We need to change the retreads. I respectfully ask you to reconsider the practice of same ole, same ole. Maybe friends and family. I say that respectfully, but I say that also seriously - very seriously. We have to progress and have new blood; people who are younger people, reading what's happening, maybe wanting some changes rather than the same ole, same ole," she said.
Pappas backed his reappointments later in the meeting and said, "Some of these appointments, again, even though they're reappointments, they've only been on for a short time. Some just came on last year and to really learn that area, you really need more than a year to just learn what that section is about. ... It really takes a while to learn the ropes, and these people are very committed, they've done a good job and we have no reason to not have them there."
Alderman Bob Pecoraro also backed the mayor for his appointments in closing comments.
"I really applaud the mayor's appointees," Pecoraro said. "These people have all shown the leadership and responsibility to be reappointed in the jobs that they got reappointed in and I don't call them retreads, I call them civic leaders."
Alderman Austin Tylec commented on the reappointments and, although, he didn't vote against any of them, he asked the council if an attendance policy could possibly put in place for the committee members and elected officials.
"I noticed there was an individual, I believe in one of the committees - 2017 - who actually missed nine consecutive days, and it was the Planning Commission and there's only about 12 meetings, so that's a lot of days to miss," Tylec said. "I know the mayor appoints a lot of these people, and I'm not saying they're all at fault, it's just a policy to sort of set something so we don't have to hound people."
Pappas reminded Tylec that those appointed are only volunteers and do not get paid.
"You can't really demand volunteers to be here for every meeting. They have family commitments and so on, and they're not getting paid. So, this is something we have to take in consideration," Pappas said. "I like your idea, I think it's good, but we have to keep in mind that most of these commissions have their own set of bylaws and regulations. Some of them already have an attendance policy."
All of Pappas' reappointments were approved by the council during communications from city officials.
The next City of North Tonawanda Common Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17.