Niagara Gazette — Supervisor Randy Douglas’s comments in the Feb. 19 Press-Republican concerning the utility audit of the Town of Black Brook are nothing more than a cheap shot, from a small-town bully, at an employee of the Town of Black Brook, who was at all times just following instruction of the Black Brook Town Council.
Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said that the litigation was not initiated by his town and that it was over shared billing for hours worked by the chief sewer plant operator. This statement is different from what is stated in letters from Supervisor Douglas.
On Jan. 15, 2010, Supervisor Douglas sent a letter to the Town of Black Brook stating, “I will not authorize any payments for 2010 until a new sewer contract agreement is reached.”
On April 7, 2010, Supervisor Douglas demanded, “as for contract negotiations, my town board requests (as stated in the contract) to send it to an arbitrator for a hearing. Because the Town of Black Brook is the lead agency on the sewer contract, I believe that it is your town’s responsibility to arrange the arbitration.”
We, the Black Brook Town Council, did exactly as requested. The sewer bills that the Town of Jay was refusing to pay were sent to arbitration. Supervisor Douglas requested that we initiate the action.
In that same April 7 letter, Supervisor Douglas clearly states his reasons for nonpayment of any part of the sewer bills. In not one part of those reasons did Supervisor Douglas mention any dispute of the hours that our chief plant operator worked. Reasons stated by Supervisor Douglas at that time were failure to agree on a new contract and his refusal to pay for any part of the hospitalization insurance for our chief plant operator.
On April 20, 2010, Supervisor Douglas sent a letter to our chief plant operator stating, “In closing, ... I thank you for your courteous working relationship with me and my town board over the last six and a half years. It’s unfortunate that Town of Black Brook officials do not wish to negotiate in good faith about our sewer contract and therefore you are no longer allowed to work on sewer-related issues in the Town of Jay. Please believe that this is business and not personal. I wish you the best.”
Again, no mention of any disputed hours worked at the time of this April 20, 2010, letter.
A partial payment of the sewer bills was finally made on May 11, 2010, about six months after Supervisor Douglas stopped paying any sewer bills. Again, no mention of a dispute in the time worked as a reason for withholding payments.
It was after, we, the Black Brook Town Council, instructed our chief sewer plant operator to just do the minimum necessary to comply with the SPDES permit — because of money problems due to the Supervisor Douglas’s refusal to pay the Town of Jay’s share of the cost of running the sewer plant — that Supervisor Douglas installed a closed-circuit television camera.
That camera simply recorded part of the time that our sewer plant operator worked on sewer plant business, and because it was installed some six months after Supervisor Douglas’s refusal to pay any sewer bills, any footage taken by the camera can’t become proof of time worked six months earlier.
The Town of Black Brook had the responsibility to manage the sewer treatment plant. Supervisor Douglas and the Town of Jay withheld payment of their share of the cost of running the plant, not just labor costs but all costs, even electricity, all for the purpose of renegotiating the contract.
This was all settled, with prejudice, by agreement just days before going before arbitration.
Supervisor Douglas’s false comments in the article served no purpose other than to take a cheap shot at an employee. His statements in the article should have mirrored his statements in his letters to the Town of Black Brook when the dispute was going on.
It is difficult to address a constantly changing argument.
Howard Aubin is a member of the Black Brook Town Council.