By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Nearly a month after the end of Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray's failed campaign for Congress, Town Council members complained they haven't seen him return to Town Hall to work.
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney said during Monday's Town Board meeting "our town supervisor is not coming to work. He's not coming here. It's very frustrating for me and it's very frustrating for a lot of our citizens. I have talked to him about this. I hope it changes."
"Citizens ask me this all the time. There's nothing we can do about it. Beyond the first three months of an elected official's appointment, there is no required reporting. So if you're asking us as board members, what can we do? There is nothing we can take and do."
Baney then directed comments to Deputy Supervisor Jim Sharpe, who chaired the meeting Monday because McMurray was excused to attend a funeral.
"Jim, I've asked you privately and now I will ask you publicly. Will you please, please, I beg of you, stop enabling a process which is not appropriate," Baney said. "I will advocate regularly, often, for our town to be appropriately run by elected officials. In the capacity in which you're serving as a deputy supervisor for this past year running meetings for a position to which you were not elected is enabling."
Claiming McMurray has missed "dozens of meetings," Baney said: "It hurts morale and it hurts our board. I do not want to spend this next coming year the way we spent it before."
Baney said she felt she had to address the matter "because it's something citizens ask me about nearly every single day."
"I just want our town to be functioning the best it can and as a citizen and a taxpayer I feel the standard needs to be higher," Baney said. "So I'm saying as a Town Board member, I am not comfortable with the level of service he's providing."
Councilman Mike Madigan supported Baney's comments and added, "It's a month after the election. The office remains vacant. A decision needs to be made by him whether or not he's going to return to the job, and, to be fair to the taxpayers, I do think that he needs to make that decision very quickly."
Sharpe defended McMurray and said he communicates with the supervisor "on a regular basis almost every hour to every two hours during the entire day."
"Nate does lead and sets the agenda for us and he does discuss the issues facing Grand Island on a regular basis and he does communicate with you on issues that he felt were appropriate at certain times," Sharpe told the board. "As deputy supervisor, I am duly appointed and with full authority as the deputy supervisor to perform any duty that the supervisor has. That is within the state law."
Sharpe said Baney's comments about enabling are "a stretch" and she is "basically insulting me by saying that I'm not carrying out my fiduciary responsibilities as the deputy supervisor for the town."
Sharpe pointed out he was a deputy supervisor when he was an elected councilman in the 1990s and his duties then were "no different than the duties I carry throughout the town currently."
He said he has experience with "dealing with committees. It has to do with day-to-day operations within the Town Hall. I do have expertise that some may not have. My eight years' experience as a sitting councilman and also as deputy supervisor I think plays out well within the town and brings some wealth of knowledge to it. Not that I'm a perfect guy, but at least I understand the workings of our community and the workings of our government."
"I don't feel we have fallen and failed to follow through on any of our given projects," Sharpe said.