Mayor Ralph Peterson is taking over supervision of the Corfu Police Department with the resignation today of Police Administrator Jim Meier.
In a resignation letter read to the village board this evening, Meier cited what he called "numerous attacks" leveled at him by Peterson and Officer Gene Nati as the reason for his resignation.
He said the attacks began with a claim, later found to be unsubstantiated by a State Police investigation, that the department was filing for DWI grant money it didn't deserve. The recent complaints -- and potential lawsuit -- about how part-time officers are scheduled for work are a continuation of those attacks, Meier wrote in his letter.
As soon as Trustee Ken Lauer finished reading the letter, Peterson quickly said, "resignation accepted."
Trustee Art Ianni asked whether the board should vote to accept the resignation and Peterson agreed to a vote.
Peterson, along with trustees Keith Busch and David Bielec voted yes. Lauer and Ianni voted no.
Through the course of the meeting, it was determined that Peterson would not only oversee scheduling of officers, but other supervisor duties, at least until the village figures out what to do with the police department.
Former mayor Todd Skeet said he hired Meier because he figured out he couldn't do the things the village needed to maintain a police department, such as ensuring officers are properly certified with their weapons and process tickets.
"I didn't know about any of that stuff," Skeet said. "I don't think the current mayor is trained in law enforcement. It opens the whole village up to a possible lawsuit. The things the police administrator does is more than just scheduling, which is only about 10 percent of his job."
The board agreed to form a committee to study what should happen with the police department -- whether to continue with the current system of a part-time administrator and several part-time officers, hire a full-time officer with fewer part-time officers or contract with the Sheriff's Office.
Two residents along with Peterson and Ianni will serve on the committee. The first action, Peterson said, will be to set up a meeting with Gordon Dibble, chief deputy in charge of road patrol for the Sheriff's Office.
At the start of the meeting, Peterson announced the meeting would be run according to standard open meeting rules -- sticking to the agenda and allowing public comment only during a prescribed portion of the meeting.
Public comments were held until after village business was completed.
Village resident Greg Lang spoke first and complained about all of the negative scrutiny the village has received recently, and without naming Peterson, said there was only one person responsible.
Lang rattled off several incidents that Peterson has been implicated in recently, from reportedly calling Lauer saying a meeting was canceled, to allegedly firing the village clerks, to today's controversy over an anonymous letter sent to the owner of Camden Group trying to silence former trustee Al Graham.
While nobody directly accused Peterson of being behind the letter, Graham said the letter was turned over to the special prosecutor looking into the village court's missing money case and that it would be tested for fingerprints.
Lang asked that Peterson resign his office. Peterson shook his head, "no."
Another resident pointed out that the letter threatens to get Camden's contract pulled for operation of the sewer plant, but only somebody on the village board would have the power for such action.
The second speaker was Justice David O'Connor.
On April 10, O'Connor spoke to the board about the village court budget and questioned some of what has happened in the court over the past couple of years and brought it under the scrutiny of the Judicial Review Commission.
Following the meeting, O'Connor claimed that former village justice Robert Alexander sent him a nasty e-mail saying that somebody had played a tape for him of his comments at the April 10 meeting.
Alexander's daughter, Jenny Warner, left a comment on The Batavian challenging O'Connor's claim that Alexander wrote a "vile" e-mail.
The allegations that were made by Justice O"Connor about a "vile" and "threatening" email from my father Robert Alexander bothered me since it was so out of character for my Dad. Howard I think this email should be posted so the public can decide if they think it is vile and threatening.
Tonight, O'Connor read the e-mail he said came from Alexander at the meeting.
Dave please do not email me ever again. I want no communications or interaction with you in any form. I heard the tape from the meeting and read the comments of you trowing (sic) me under the buss (sic) and making those comments about me. You are not a friend and obviously all that bull about thanking me for dropping out of the Corfu race and asking support of you was a big lie. I guess I should have had your arrested after you flipped out and physically attacked me with those body blocks when I came to do the arraignment, but I gave you grace and forgiveness.
O'Connor said the accusation of a physical attack was complete fiction.
Graham also addressed a comment left by Warner saying the disagreements with Peterson are over his race.
"There is not one person here or in this village who has ever heard me ever say anything racist," Graham said. "I don't even tell racist jokes, but Bob's daughter wants to make this about race. This is not about the color of the man's skin. This is about a man's integrity and the truthfulness of the man. It's about me letting you as residents of the village know when he's lying to you."
During the meeting, Peterson did not address any of the comments made about him, except to deny any involvement in either the civil service complaint or the potential lawsuit over scheduling of police officers.