Niagara Gazette

April 14, 2014

County says sex offenders on Davison isn't true

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County lawmakers say there’s no truth to the rumors that sex offenders are able to take residence on county-owned property on Davison Road.

That’s according to Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, who said a recent investigation by lawmakers showed that statement to be untrue.

The administration committee tabled a resolution Monday calling on Legislator Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls and Bill Rutland, president of the county’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 182 union, to prove those claims about sex offenders. 

At a March 4 meeting, Rutland said there had been talk of building housing for sex offenders on the Davison Road property. Legislators denied it.

Virtuoso said such statements needed to be investigated.

”I said, ‘now we’re hearing tonight from Mr. Rutland about rumors of sex offenders and we don’t know if this is true or not,’ then I said, ‘We have to watch, because sometimes when there’s smoke, there’s fire,’ “ Virtuoso said. 

Updegrove said he agreed with Virtuoso after watching a video of the March 4 meeting and advocated taking Virtuoso’s name off the resolution. The committee voted to make the changes.

But Updegrove still had a concern about what was said.

”I’m concerned with the comment, ‘when there’s smoke, there’s fire,’” Updegrove said. “That’s the type of thing that could alarm people for no reason.” 

The reason for the resolution was to remove all doubt that sex offenders could be moved to Davison Road, Updegrove said.

Rutland told the Legislature he heard a rumor and repeatedly said that he didn’t believe it, because the property is next to a playground, Virtuoso said. And Rutland wasn’t addressing the body as a union president but as a resident in that neighborhood, Virtuoso added.

“This whole resolution is just asinine, it doesn’t belong on the floor of the legislature, it’s just stupid, plain stupid,” Virtuoso said. “This whole resolution is just garbage, period. Garbage. Shouldn’t even be on the floor of this Legislature. You know, you guys are making a fool of this legislature with some of the resolutions you’re bringing to this honorable floor. It’s not meant to harass people, it’s not meant to do discriminate against people, it’s not meant to make fun of people. This legislature was made to make laws, not to do stupid stuff like this.” 

Updegrove said when someone makes allegations that sex offenders were being allowed to live on county property, that’s something that needs to be dealt with.

”I don’t think that’s stupid,” he said.

The Davison Road property was declared excess property by the Legislature last month, a first step in the process for lawmakers to sell it.

Following the discussion over the Davison Road resolution, the Administration committee tabled another Bradt-sponsored resolution involving Virtuoso, this one accusing him of trying to pad his pension.

In the resolution, Bradt alleged that Virtuoso and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster have worked together to maximize Virtuoso’s overtime in his role as acting director of code enforcement and chief code enforcement officer for the city of Niagara Falls. The resolution seeks an investigation from the state attorney general and comptroller and urges the city to start a search for a full-time code enforcement director.

Virtuoso said last month the resolution was factually incorrect and “highly inappropriate.” By serving in both positions Virtuoso said he was saving the city about $100,000 a year.

• At Tuesday’s meeting of the full Legislature, county lawmakers appointed Joan G. Aul, an executive with M&T Bank, to a seat on the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

Aul was chosen to take the seat vacated by Deanna Brennen, president of the Niagara USA Chamber, who resigned from the IDA board April 4. Aul is a Town of Lockport resident and has been with M&T since 1998.