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Grand Island Town Board: Madigan calls McMurray 'vindictive' after losing committee post

Sat, Jan 12th 2019 07:00 am

By Larry Austin

Island Dispatch Editor

Whatever 2019 new year’s resolutions made for more congeniality in Grand Island Town Board meetings lasted little more than an hour.

The 2019 Town Board returned to 2018 form with two board member walking out of the first executive session meeting Jan. 7.

About 35 minutes into a closed-door executive session meeting, during which members of the public could hear loud voice and angry in the first-floor conference room, council members Jennifer Baney and Michael Madigan walked out the meeting, both visibly upset.

Both declined to elaborate on what exactly happened. Madigan said McMurray was verbally attacking Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel and “acting irrationally.”

Madigan called it a “hostile environment.”

Asked later if anything happened during the executive session, Frentzel said, “No, not that I can discuss,” and McMurray said, “Nothing.”

In the reorganization meeting that followed, Madigan was not reappointed to the audit committee. The liaison appointments are made by the supervisor and require no board action.

During the meeting, Madigan read a statement that said: “As a board member, one of my primary focuses has been the review of our town finances and prevention of waste, fraud and abuse of town funds. This is a task I have spent a considerable time performing and in the process my audits have contributed to saving the town tens of thousands of dollars annually.

“During one of my audits, I discovered a personal, non-town, bank account into which town funds were being deposited. Review of this bank account resulted in a recently completed criminal investigation by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office associated with over $100,000 of questionable transactions. Prosecution of this case is pending.

“My removal leaves me with only four assignments and the audit chair was given to a councilperson who already had nine assignments.

“The supervisor similarly removed Jennifer Baney today as the Parks Department liaison following a disagreement between her and the supervisor regarding how to manage a Parks-related incident.”

Asked what Madigan was referring to, McMurray said, “We consistently do audits and investigations and he is referring to a matter that we’ve been looking to for some time, and it’s probably inappropriate for him to disclose in that way to get credit for.”

Both McMurray and Madigan declined to identify a person being investigated.

“It’s been going on for some time and the fact that he disclosed it is incredibly disappointing and very unprofessional,” McMurray said.

Asked if Madigan’s actions had something to do with his replacement on the audit committee, McMurray first said “no comment,” but then added it was not “some type of payback.”

McMurray said about the supervisor’s appointments: “We shuffle this up every year. Every year they fight for the jobs. Every year we do this together. Every year there is a dispute. And we came to a general conclusion. And some people were happy with their assignments and some people weren’t.”

Thursday, Madigan sent a letter to the Dispatch titled “Our Vindictive, Emotionally Immature and Absent Supervisor.”

Madigan said, “In 2018 our supervisor ... was mostly absent. Even when he was in the office, inappropriate emails from his town address show he was devoting part of that time working on his campaign. This behavior has not changed since the November election – he remains absent.”

“Compounding an already bad situation, the few times the supervisor is in the office, he is acting out in inappropriate ways against those that take positions different from his (creating a hostile environment) and through his actions as supervisor.”

“By law the town supervisor is the only one with the authority to assign committee and liaison positions. This week I was removed from two such assignments, just after we had a serious difference of opinion, leaving me with only four assignments. One of the removed assignments (Financial Audit Committee) went to a councilperson that already had nine assignments (this councilperson is a hard working committed official). Similar action occurred, in my opinion, to Jennifer Baney where one of her assignments was removed under similar circumstances.

“These assignments are important and each typically require considerable time to perform.”

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