Benjamin Joe |
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, NY
The Common Council held a special meeting on Tuesday evening to address an agenda item, a resolution that was ultimately withdrawn by its sponsor, 5th District Alderman Kristin Barnard.
At issue was whether to hire Freed Maxick, a Buffalo-based accounting firm, to determine the financial costs and benefits of the Lockport Fire Department providing ambulance service for emergency medical calls .
The firm was selected by the board because of its experience in healthcare consulting, but the board did not solicit bids for the analysis. Fourth Ward Alderwoman Kathryn Fogle sponsored a resolution on the July 13 meeting agenda, then withdrew it because it did not comply with city procurement policy updated last January.
Barnard reintroduced the resolution for Tuesday’s special meeting and the language stipulated a contract price of less than $30,000.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Michelle Roman said she was concerned about the resolution as there was no indication of the scope of services Freed Maxick had committed to, nor a letter of intent from the company. .
Once the special meeting was underway, Barnard said she was withdrawing the resolution, to avoid any appearance of unethical behavior.
“I don’t put anything unethical under my name,” she said, while noting that every time this resolution pops up, another reason not to pass it also pops up. This time it was a tender.
Company attorney Laura Miskell-Benedict said she emailed Barnard saying her resolution was legal but against her legal advice because the state comptroller had previously recommended a resolution process. bidding for any service costing more than $20,000.
Barnard said she didn’t get answers to many of her questions and Miskell-Benedict replied that Barnard could sit down with her at her convenience and she would help inform as best she could.
Council Chairman Paul Beakman said he was also accused of unethical behavior, calling it an “ugly” anonymous complaint about the ambulance service problem.
Barnard then called for a Republican caucus — a private discussion between members of the same political party. Beakman, the council’s only Democrat, joined in the discussion, leaving only Roman and City Clerk Paul Oates out in the cold.
Former Niagara County Legislator Anita Mullane, who was in the audience, had implored any city councilor to sponsor the resolution, stop wasting taxpayers’ money and save lives that would otherwise be lost while city leaders fight against each other. His plea was ignored as the aldermen retreated into caucus.
“If they don’t sign it, it’s not legit,” Mullane told Beakman of the anonymous complaint. “I know you care as much as I do. It could be any of our families.
The special meeting was adjourned when the aldermen walked out of caucus and no one stepped in to sponsor the resolution.
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