Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli must know full well that signing a contract last spring to sell land he owns in Cheektowaga to the Bella Vista Group for $140,000, and then turning around in May to join the rest of the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency board in approving tax breaks for an office park that same group owns in Lancaster is a conflict.
If he doesn't know it, then he should.
If he had any doubts, as one good-government group pointed out, he could have sought an ethics opinion from the state Attorney General's Office before the vote. Instead, he did what he did and blamed the backlash from his errors in judgment on political opponents trying to take advantage of his missteps.
Here's the rub: back at June's IDA meeting, board member John Visone recused himself, at Fudoli's request no less, from a vote on IDA tax breaks for the expansion of a business that rents space in some of his commercial buildings.
Fudoli recognized that as a potential conflict of interest. It should have been a no-brainer for Fudoli to reveal his pending property sale before voting on the tax break.
Fudoli and Bella Vista President Joseph A. Cipolla are slicing the explanation pretty thin when they insist that the package of tax breaks and the agreement to buy Fudoli's property have nothing to do with each other. And pointing out that the sale price of $140,000 was well below the assessed value of $346,065 is missing the ethical point by miles.
The supervisor/IDA chairman and the IDA did the right thing in rejecting David Dischner's proposal for a tax break to support expansion of his Depew pizzeria but they failed to connect the dots when, at the same time, approving the Bella Vista request.
The town's relatively new supervisor has admitted to owing nearly $17,000 in property taxes, referred to public sector unions in an interview with a News reporter as the "non-producing part of society" and of government as the "enemy," and voiced early objections to the specific location of a veterans cemetery in town.
And now, this land sale.
The supervisor has excuses and explanations, but falls short of just admitting to a mistake or, in this case, mistakes, and moving on. He should have recused himself from that Bella Vista decision. The fact that he didn't speaks volumes.