Niagara Gazette

November 27, 2012

Lawyer reviews claim

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls Water Board attorney John Ottaviano said he’s investigating claims made by Water Board Vice Chair Renae Kimble about the residency of board Chairman Ted Janese III.

He said he’s contacted both sides and expects to receive all evidence and will provide the board with a recommendation later this week.

“I’m gathering the facts from both sides ... then turning it over to them,” he said. “I have spoken to (Janese) twice but I have not received anything from him in writing yet. He said he will respond in writing. And I have a copy of the letter (Kimble) wrote dated Nov. 25. I will lay out the information for the water board.”

The letter he mentioned was addressed to him by Kimble, calling for Janese to be removed from the board because of his residency. He was appointed to the board by state Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Tonawanda, to represent the city of Niagara Falls and must be a resident.

Kimble’s letter claims Janese’s permanent residence is in Lewiston, not Niagara Falls. Ottaviano said Janese has denied the accusations.

“He denies the allegations in the letter,” Ottaviano said. “He told me he maintains his residence in Niagara Falls. He told me he did purchase a home in Lewiston and is in the process of remodeling it with plans to move there in 2013. But he has not changed his legal residence.”

Ottaviano said Janese will provide him with proof of his primary residence, including voter registration, utility bills, his driver’s license and his tax return. He said Kimble will provide proof through a real estate agent, who will show contracts where Janese is selling his Niagara Falls residence, listed at 8127 Point Ave., and is living in the purchased home at 1145 Jarrett Drive, Lewiston.

Kimble’s letter also asks Ottaviano to go back and investigate which votes were taken following Janese’s move. She said those votes should be vacated, including votes cast at the board’s Nov. 21 meeting involving the hiring of Roger Lance – the husband of Niagara County Legislator Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield – as the director of administrative services.

At the meeting, Kimble tried to get Janese to recuse himself from voting due to what she called a conflict of interest because Janese serves as a county attorney and is employed by the legislature. But Ottaviano said he saw no conflict of interest in that particular case, allowing a 3-2 vote to hire Lance.

Kimble and Thomas Vitello voted against the hiring, while Janese was joined by Nicholas Marchelos and Michael McNally in the majority opinion.

If Janese is to be removed, Kimble would become acting chairman of the board.