Discord in the Town of Hamburg is nothing new, but it gains particular attention when one of its citizens files papers in State Supreme Court to remove a town councilman from office. Clearly, this calls for an impartial investigation into exactly what has been troubling the town for the past several years.
An outside entity needs to take an objective look at whatever ails the town and offer a plan to move forward.
That might help in determining who is right and who is wrong in this latest case. Elizabeth Reszka, whose husband is a leader with the town Republican Committee, has accused Joseph Collins of breaching his duties to the town to benefit his private law firm.
Collins is the lone Democrat on the Town Board and is in his fourth year as councilman. He has denied various allegations lodged against him in the past and this time is no different.
Reszka accuses Collins of representing clients in Town Court, a conflict of interest, and continuing to engage in the practice of law before the town or against the town. He also supposedly directed an employee to post fliers in town buildings advertising his legal practice in an attempt to solicit clients.
There are other accusations. The list is long. Perhaps the harshest, if one can be singled out, is the one saying that defending lawsuits Collins has brought has cost the town $60,000 and is partially responsible for an increase in taxes this year.
Collins has had other brushes with controversy, and board members voted 2-1 last month to censure him for the second time, this one having to do with the allegation that he violated the town’s anti-harassment policy and the “confidential nature of executive session.”
Collins’ critics insist their actions are not political, although Reszka gave more than $400 to the campaign of Supervisor Steven J. Walters, a Republican, last year and $345 in 2011.
The Hamburg Town Board has been politically troubled stretching back years, decades even. Whichever party has held the numbers has thrown its weight around, including censuring the lone Democrat.
An outside investigation can get to the bottom of the latest controversy, and give voters the information they need to decide how the town should be run.