Accusations fly in city campaigns/ By Thomas J. Prohaska Buffalo News

October 22nd, 2011

LOCKPORT — Friday’s announcement of the demolition of the water tower at the Flintkote hazardous waste site became the latest battleground in a bruising city election campaign.

Demolition preparations are to start this weekend, and the steel tower should be down by the end of the month. Clarence Specialty Contracting is doing the work and paying Niagara County $500 for the scrap steel.

As Mayor Michael W. Tucker and Common Council President Richelle J. Pasceri stood at a lectern near the site to tout the demolition at the county-owned property, their opponents were saying Tucker and Pasceri, as city officials, had nothing to do with the demolition plan and were wrong to take credit for it.

The accusation came on the heels of a city notice of alleged property maintenance violations at the home of Pasceri’s 1st Ward opponent, Shirley A. Nicholas. She said the charges and the timing were political, something Tucker and Pasceri denied.

Pasceri said Tucker warned her Wednesday, the day the letter was mailed to Nicholas, that there would be some political "blow-back."

Tucker said, "I received a letter in my office from a Mill Street resident chastising us for not responding to the problem because it was political. I know [Nicholas] thinks it’s political."

"I’m sick of lies and dirty politics," said Nicholas, who defeated Pasceri in the GOP primary.

Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool said the letter was dated Oct. 4 and Tucker called it to his attention Oct. 7.

"The letter was signed, but the signature wasn’t legible," Dool said. He said his inspectors respond only to complaints because they’re shorthanded.

Nicholas said the citation was addressed only to her, even though she and her husband are joint owners. To her, that proves it was politically motivated.

Also this week, there was a tempest over some automated anti- Tucker phone calls to city voters, orchestrated by the Niagara County Democratic Committee.

Tucker, a Republican, said the charges in the calls were false, although that isn’t borne out by an analysis of scripts for the calls sent to The Buffalo News by county Democratic Chairman Daniel Rivera. Tucker took to the phone lines himself for a rebuttal robocall later in the week.

Tucker’s Democratic opponent, Michael J. Pillot, said the robocalls were made without his knowledge or consent.

Rivera said he’s had little contact with Pillot, but that a private survey commissioned by the Democrats showed Pillot has a chance to win, so the party decided to supplement Pillot’s underfunded campaign.

Tucker said one phone message falsely accused him of receiving large campaign donations from Modern Disposal, which won the city’s privatized garbage contract.

State election records show Tucker has never received any money from Modern, but Rivera’s script said Tucker received donations from the president of Modern Disposal. That is true: Gary Smith of Modern gave Tucker $250 last year and another $250 this year.

Another script said, accurately, that the city budget is going to be a month later than the City Charter mandates. The tape accused Tucker of breaking the law.


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