A series of email exchanges about a routine resolution over a skate park erupted into angry words during the Lancaster Town Board work session earlier this week.
Supervisor Dino Fudoli – the lone Republican on the five-member Town Board – lashed out at Councilman Ronald Ruffino Sr., demanding an apology for a recent email exchange between Fudoli’s secretary, Lynn M. Sacha, and Ruffino over a resolution to approve the design of the Bryce Buchholz skate and bike park that almost didn’t make it onto Monday night’s board agenda.
Fudoli singled out Ruffino, asking him for an apology for what he termed a “rude” email to Sacha.
When Ruffino held his ground, Fudoli criticized the entire board. He finished by saying he would no longer send emails about anything, nor updates, to any of the council members.
Fudoli later told The Buffalo News that emails will resume only if he receives apologies.
Ruffino is in the midst of a re-election bid for the board, and there’s no love lost between him and Fudoli. In fact, Fudoli recently termed Ruffino the “weak” Democratic link on the board, but in an interview Wednesday, the supervisor insisted his comments about the emails and his demand for an apology from Ruffino are not election-driven.
“I’m not here to play politics. I don’t need to be treated like some kind of jerk,” Fudoli said. “It’s been two years of people acting like children. Enough is enough. I don’t have time for [the board’s] childish games.”
Ruffino insisted there was nothing rude about the emails between Sacha and him in the last 10 days, and suggested Fudoli discuss it outside of the town meeting.
Fudoli refused, saying it needed to be discussed openly.
“That was being rude. I’m sick and tired of the insults from this board in the last two and a half years,” Fudoli said, before specifically singling out Ruffino and Councilwoman Donna G. Stempniak. “From now on, I will not email the board any information.”
In an Oct. 11 email to Ruffino – which Sacha said she wrote at Fudoli’s request – she asked him about the design plan from California Skateparks and also whether he would sponsor a resolution to be presented Oct. 21 for town approval.
Ruffino, the town liaison to parks and recreation, responded by saying he approved of the plan and would sponsor the resolution.
Ruffino told The News that he expected the supervisor’s office to prepare a resolution for him to sponsor, but said that when he questioned it, Sacha told him it could not because it was “contractual.” Ruffino said he next contacted Town Attorney John Dudziak’s office, which indicated that it could be prepared in time for Monday’s vote.
Fudoli said it was Ruffino’s job to draft a skate park resolution.
“Why the hell wouldn’t he put his resolution together? My office has never drafted a resolution for Ron Ruffino. So why would we start now?” Fudoli said.
But the line that angered Fudoli was when Ruffino wrote in a subsequent email that was copied to all board members that he would appreciate it “if departments would work together and communicate openly for the betterment of the citizens we serve.”
Fudoli replied with a rebuttal email to Ruffino on Oct. 18, saying that Sacha merely did what he asked her to do and said that Ruffino misinterpreted her simple question.
“Instead, I guess it’s just easier to blame someone else for your laziness and irresponsibility,” Fudoli wrote. “In the future, I urge you to act in a polite, professional and non-accusatory manner when dealing with town employees ... It goes without saying that you owe [Sacha] an apology.”
Ruffino, who chalked up Fudoli’s angry words to his temper, said his emails to Sacha were very courteous and simply stated facts and a plea for departments to work together.
Sacha declined to comment Wednesday.
“He just goes off the wall. I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Ruffino said, referring to Fudoli. “I was upset that this wasn’t on the agenda for Monday and worked through it last Friday.”
Stempniak, who has had her own run-ins with Fudoli and criticizes him for a lack of transparency, initially tangled with Fudoli after he was elected supervisor in November 2011. Without realizing her Facebook privacy settings were not in place, she posted on her Facebook profile page that Lancaster now faces “a fool” at the helm of its government.
“If Fudoli is not going to inform the board about issues, then he’s shirking his duties. That’s ridiculous, not keeping the board informed,” she said Wednesday. “This man can certainly dish it out, but can’t take it at all. He’s not going to send emails to the board? Talk about acting like a child ...”