Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 13, 2012

County refuse director remains under investigation

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County Manager Jeffrey Glatz remained tight-lipped Tuesday about what's driving an investigation of the county refuse disposal district director.

Richard Pope of Lockport, the district director for 19 years, was put on paid administrative leave at the beginning of this month while "allegations (regarding) operation of the refuse district" are investigated, Glatz said after a closed-door meeting of the district administrative board Tuesday evening. The executive session concerned an unspecified "personnel" matter, according to board chairman and county Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane.

Glatz declined to articulate the specific allegation against Pope, or say who made it. He did say the complaint is being examined by himself and the county atttorney's office, not local law enforcement.

Various Republican affiliates have reported that a fellow county employee supposedly accused Pope of keeping two sets of books for the district. Glatz refused to confirm or deny that's the accusation.

Pope could not be reached to comment on the matter late Tuesday.

Glatz said the county received a signed complaint about Pope before the Oct. 22 meeting of the refuse board, when Glatz and Pope clashed openly on the possible early closing of the county-run construction/demolition landfill off the Lockport Bypass.

Glatz had brought in an engineering consultant to estimate the time and expenses associated with closing the still-active landfill, and he and Pope argued about whether the landfill — which a prior report indicated has up to five years of "life" left in it — is making or costing the county money. Pope insisted the landfill raises over $200,000 in annual revenue after operating expenses, and that profit is helping hold down the county refuse tax rate.

After that meeting, some Democrats suggested Glatz is pushing for an early landfill closing to benefit Modern Corporation, which also operates a C&D landfill. Follow the money — meaning Modern's campaign donations to Republican office-seekers — they said.

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