Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 3, 2014

EDITORIAL: New regime has work cut out for it in Lewiston

Niagara Gazette — The odor is undeniable in the Town of Lewiston.

It smells like gasoline.

There are still questions to be answered in the wake of an internal investigation conducted last October that involved two members of the Lewiston Police Department and “allegations” believed to have been tied to their use of the town’s fuel supply.

This is not new territory in Lewiston where town officials were criticized a couple of years ago in an audit by the New York State Comptroller’s Office for failing to ensure proper protocols were followed at the town’s gas station which, of course, is financed by the taxpayers themselves.

State auditors made it clear that they were expecting changes to be made in the way employees avail themselves to gas supplied by the town.

In the wake of the audit, town officials should have been more diligent in responding to the findings and addressing any deficiencies in the system.

That did not happen and that’s a shame.

As for the officers, town officials have confirmed that the investigation involved not only members of the police department, but the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Police.

The findings are unknown as, under state law, municipality’s are barred from sharing personnel information, including any disciplinary matters, with the press or the public.

As a result, it appears unlikely town residents will ever fully understand the steps that ultimately led to the departure of one of the officers in question and the suspension and reinstatement of the other.

In light of the 2013 election, a new regime has taken over in Lewiston. It’s up to newly elected Supervisor Dennis Brochey to do what is needed to prevent such things from happening again in the future.

The process starts with making sure those who are privileged enough to have access to the town’s fuel supply do not breach the public’s trust by abusing those privileges.

We invite Brochey to work with members of the town board to close any holes in the system.

Town residents have had their share of questionable audits and quiet internal investigations.

A majority of them supported Brochey last year because they wanted the town to operate differently.

Getting a handle on the town’s fuel supply is an obvious and appropriate place to start. 

 

 

 

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