Niagara Gazette

Courts

April 9, 2013

Falls Bridge Commission lawsuit languishes

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — It’s been almost two and a half years since U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara asked lawyers for the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission why they were keeping secrets from the public.

But despite the judge’s concerns, he still has not ruled on a lawsuit brought by two local lawmakers seeking to force the commission to comply with the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Arguments between lawyers for then Niagara County Legislators John Ceretto, and Danny Sklarski and attorneys for the bridge commission took place in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Oct. 21, 2010. Since then, Cerretto has moved on and been elected a New York state assemblyman, while Sklarski left the Niagara County Legislature and became a councilman in the Town of Niagara.

Sklarski admitted he hasn’t given the lawsuit much thought in the intervening years.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he told a reporter, “I haven’t thought the first thing (about the lawsuit) since you just brought it up.”

Cerretto said he has just been waiting patiently for Arcara to rule.

“When we (brought the lawsuit), we did it because we thought the people had a right to know what (the bridge commission was doing),” Cerretto said. “I think boards and commissions should be accountable.”

Cerretto said he has had some contact with the lawyers who represented him and Sklarski in the case since the last court appearance. Sklarski, however, said he has not heard so much as a “whisper” from the attorneys.

“(The lawyers) told me the judge will rule when he’s ready and there’s not much to do until then,” Cerretto said.  

Ted Graney, a partner in the law firm Webster Szanyi, who represented the two local lawmakers could not be reached for comment. Attorneys for the bridge commission were also unavailable.

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