City audit pays dividend

Sometimes audits of government agencies are explosive, uncovering waste, graft and greed.

Then there are the other times.

City Comptroller Mark Schroeder’s office set its sights on the city’s petty cash functions, which reimburse employees for business expenses.

Imagining how city employees might be spending petty cash led to an expectation the audit could be juicy – a potential bonanza of three-martini lunches, lavish office artwork or questionable trips to the mall.

Alas, the audit filed this week with the Common Council was less exciting.

The most notable offenses? One employee bought “facial tissue,” and another bought a newspaper to monitor public meeting notices.

City departments must routinely advertise public hearings, so it’s unclear why purchasing a newspaper to make sure the notices were printed wasn’t a worthy petty cash expense.

Nevertheless, Off Main can’t argue with the remedy, as described in the audit: “The department has recently subscribed to the newspaper and will no longer use petty cash for this purpose.”

A feel-good arrest

A threatening Facebook message led to the arrest of a 19-year-old Fillmore man on a charge of aggravated harassment, state police reported this week.

Perhaps troopers and the town court handling the case will mold the teen into a kinder, gentler suspect.

He was arrested by state police at Amity and ordered to return to Town of Friendship Court.

Oates’ Black Rock link

Joyce Carol Oates’ ties to Lockport are well known. She’s written about her hometown on numerous occasions.

But did you know the celebrated author also has roots in Black Rock? That’s where Oates’ mother lived until her grandfather was killed – “beaten to death with a shovel” by another Hungarian immigrant – and the family, now destitute, sent her mother, 9 months old, to live with relatives in Millersport.

Oates reveals her link to Black Rock as part of a short story in The New Yorker, in which she laments her mother’s “secret heritage” and sadness over being “given away.”

In “After Black Rock,” Oates says it’s the rare murder that destroys only one life.

“On the other hand,” she wrote, “there are probably many people, who, like me, owe their births to the premature deaths of others they have never known but to whom they are linked by that mysterious shared fate called ‘blood.’ ”

You have a message

Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli found himself in a bit of hot water during Monday’s Town Board meeting.

“Your cellphone use is really bothering me,” resident Mike Fronczak told Fudoli. “It’s showing that you’re not paying attention. Tonight, seemed like an exceptional amount of cellphone use.”

The supervisor told Fronczak that he was conducting official town business on his phone by checking whether two upcoming public hearings that were tied together could be separated.

Fronczak also did not like the way Fudoli’s phone loudly vibrated.

But Fudoli disputed that.

Fronczak also accused Fudoli of texting during the meeting, which the supervisor also denied.

Fronczak suggested that cellphone use be banned during meetings. Fudoli said he would consider it.

“I don’t think we should use cellphones during town meetings, and I would never do a personal text message,” Fudoli said. “He is right. We shouldn’t be. I’m not going to justify it.”

Written by Jill Terreri, with contributions from Gene Warner, Phil Fairbanks and Karen Robinson. email: