By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls Water Board Chairman Ted Janese III says recent concerns about his residency are unfounded and he has the documentation to prove it.
In a letter delivered to the Water Board's attorney John Ottaviano and its Executive Director Paul Drof, Janese characterized fellow Water Board member Renae Kimble's questions about his residency as a "personal attack" and a "self-serving attempt" to have him removed as chairman in an effort to get a "political crony" appointed to a job.
"My primary residence has been and continues to be in Niagara Falls, N.Y.," Janese wrote. "Had Ms. Kimble had the common decency to simply ask me I would have informed her that my voter registration, driver's license, federal tax return, post office address for receiving mail and bank accounts all reflect my permanent residence in Niagara Falls."
Janese's letter followed one sent by Kimble to Ottaviano on Sunday. In it, she asked the water board's attorney to investigate Janese's residency, claiming he recently violated the terms of his appointment by moving into a new home in Lewiston. Kimble, who serves as vice chair of the Water Board, has called for Janese's removal and suggested that all board actions - including a controversial vote last week to fill a director of administrative services job - be ruled null and void dating back to the date in which Janese allegedly moved out of Niagara Falls.
In his letter, Janese suggests Kimble's interest in having him removed as chairman on a residency violation has to do with overturning last week's water board decision to appoint Roger Lance - husband of Republican Niagara County lawmaker Kathryn Lance - to the position of director of administrative services.
He also insists that Kimble's claims are unfounded, arguing that he is not required to live in Niagara Falls to continue to serve on the board because at the time of his appointment the residency requirement had been met as three of the five board members at the time - Tom Vitello, Nicholas Marchelos and Peter Sinclair - already lived in the city. Janese also maintains that his own board appointment was not conditioned upon his continued residence in Niagara Falls.
"Our by-laws and the New York Public Authorities Law require that three of the five board members of the Niagara Falls Water Board reside in the city of Niagara Falls," Janese wrote.
Janese acknowledged that he and his wife recently purchased a home in Lewiston, but said it does not mean that he relinquished his residence in the Falls.
"Ms. Kimble should know that the courts of this state have repeatedly held that a person can have more than one residence so long as he or she declares one to be his or her primary residence," Janese wrote.
Meanwhile, city lawmakers weighed in on the matter on Wednesday. During a council budget meeting, all five members voted to approve a resolution "demanding" Janese immediately resign from his position on the water board.
Earlier this week, Ottaviano indicated that he has been in contact with both Janese and Kimble and is in the process of gathering various documents as part of a review of Kimble's residency claim.
Late Wednesday, Kimble declined comment on the content of Janese's letter, saying she'd prefer to wait for the water board's the internal process to play out.