NORTH TONAWANDA — The North Tonawanda Common Council is opting out of plans to pay a local weekly for a two-page monthly newsletter.
On Wednesday, Council President Eric Zadzilka, the sponsor of the original August resolution to pay the Niagara Reporter $24,000 a year, announced the request for a veto by Mayor Arthur Pappas.
Zadzilka said the request comes after a contract renegotiation was never followed up on with the owners of the weekly as well as reports that the Niagara Reporter’s managing editor, attorney Nicholas D’Angelo, was indicted on multiple charges of rape and sexual assault. D'Angelo is currently on leave from the weekly.
At the August meeting when Zadzilka's resolution was passed with just Alderman-at-large Austin Tylec opposing it, several residents watching the meeting while it streamed via Facebook Live decried the decision, with some suggesting the city could share information through social media or the city's webpage. Other residents questioned why Republicans on the council chose the Reporter without considering other options.
On Wednesday, Zadzilka said, “(The Reporter) approached us a while back, even before our budget about doing this, and we weren’t really sure which direction we were going to go. I guess some of the other municipalities were looking at doing a newsletter for the Niagara Reporter, so we looked into it. But as of late, the charges that were brought up on Mr. D’Angelo and we were looking to do a new contract with them for either a lower rate or we reached out to the owner of the paper. And, I don’t think we received any input or feedback when the city attorneys decided to do so, we decided the fact that we have this option to veto the contract since nothing was paid and it wasn’t signed, the attorneys gave us that option.”
Despite concerns that if they vetoed the contract it would violate the city charter, Alderman-at-large Austin Tylec, said Pappas and City Attorney Luke Brown can veto the deal because the city is in a state of emergency.
However, since this isn’t necessarily to the health and welfare of the city, Tylec said, there is some question of whether this law really applies here. Zadzilka said that’s something best left to the lawyers.
“This was all brought out because we had residents who had been saying that not enough people are getting the message of news from North Tonawanda,” Zadzilka said. “They wanted more sources so we obviously were trying to maximize getting the news to our residents and our taxpayers. ... If we can find out a fair and accurate reporting of both sides in a story and if we can get that out to our residents, than that’s what were going to do as our next step.”