Hamburg Town Board members voted 2-1 Monday night to censure Councilman Joseph Collins, declaring that he violated the town’s anti-harassment policy and the “confidential nature of executive session.”
Collins denies the charges.
It’s the latest chapter in the poor relations between board members that started nearly three years ago.
Supervisor Steven Walters and Deputy Supervisor Amy Ziegler voted for the public censure of Collins in two separate resolutions. Collins voted against them.
“Mr. Collins has had too many transgressions for us to ignore. We tried on numerous occasions to resolve this privately,” Walters said.
It’s not the first time Collins has been censured, which is a public expression of displeasure with his actions. The Town Board, in a 3-2 party-line vote Dec. 13, 2010, found him guilty of ethics charges and of harassing an employee, and censured him.
Collins accused Ziegler of “stooping to a new low” and trying to deflect attention from her actions toward “Town Board members.”
“I am more resolved to stand by my oath as an elected official to serve the Hamburg residents and be their voice. To be continually attacked by fellow board members who I’ve been trying to work with is disheartening,” Collins said.
The first resolution involved the “inappropriate dissemination of confidential information discussed at Town Board executive sessions occurring on or after Oct. 13.” An investigation by Human Resources Consultant Brian Doyle found that Collins disclosed discussions from executive session, “causing undue stress, anxiety and fear of job loss for [a] Town of Hamburg employee and/or his or her staff.” Collins was ordered to attend training regarding the proper role and conduct of municipal officials.
Collins told The Buffalo News that he talked to a department head about the budget, which had not been approved at that point.
“It wasn’t executive session information,” he said.
The second vote involved an incident between Doyle and Collins that occurred in a hallway of Town Hall May 30. The two men argued, and Doyle accused Collins of poking him. Collins has an audio tape of the incident, which he played at a board meeting in August.
Doyle demanded he turn over the tape, and Walters and Ziegler voted to subpoena the tape from him. He had not turned over the tape as of Monday, but Collins said he plans to give a copy to the town clerk.
The board also found that Collins violated the non-harassment policy. In censuring him for that, the board ordered him to comply with town policy and ordered that he be removed as the contact for the departments assigned to him until he successfully completes “appropriate training,” directed by the town’s Employee Assistance Program, and/or the Human Resources Department.
Collins and Doyle have had a number of disagreements, and Collins maintains that the hiring of Doyle to be the labor relations specialist earlier this year should be overturned.