Racism rears its ugly head again in Dunkirk City Council

Racism rears its ugly head again in Dunkirk City Council

By: Edwin Martinez

GOING OVERBOARD ON CITY OVERTIME only when it concerns people of color

City running a deficit in the Millions and the only debate from the Common Council is which minority member of the city is getting overtime or how do we undercut a Minority Mayor.

Last week the Common Council was even debating hiring outside council for the City of Dunkirk at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars when the city already has a city attorney! But guest what, the Cities Attorney is a member of the minority class.

It has long been known that the city of Dunkirk has been segregated and that when doing business, the Common Council has approved almost no minority MWBE contracts and the Mayor efforts to create equity in the city has been stymied by the council at every turn since he was first elected over four years ago.

As well, the mayor effort to diversify the cities police, fire and numerous departments to be representative of the cities residents have been meet with strong opposition from the council and the cities unions.

It would appear that the Commons Council’s interest is not the betterment of the City of Dunkirk or working in the interest of its resident.

They are Hell Bent on Undermining the first elected minority Mayor! 

The residents have spoken with their vote in two election and they chose their leader, Mayor Rosas.

Recently, the Dunkirk  Observer wrote the follow story: Tensions were already high during a Zoom meeting of the Common Council on June 16. After some discussion regarding the paralegal position in the city of Dunkirk, the issue turned to overtime.

That is where it got heated.

“Several people have seen Hector (Rosas) mowing his lawn. He’s been out of work since March, with festivals canceled currently, these people would like to know why he’s not put to work in other areas such as the gate on Lucas Avenue so it’s open in a timely fashion,” Fourth Ward Councilwoman Nancy Nichols asked that evening. “He put in for two hours of overtime. How can this be justified?”

Rosas would later say the overtime for his brother, who serves as Special Events & Festivals Coordinator, came due to last-minute planning for the Memorial Day services that were held on May 25.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony went from not happening to being a 20-minute affair.

In the meantime, the two hours of overtime for Hector Rosas were the only numbers ever discussed publicly. For the record, Hector Rosas has 12 hours of overtime from January through May of this year. That totals $493.77 in costs to the city and its taxpayers.

Overall, that is 0.1% of all the overtime paid to city employees through the first five months.

According to the information received by the OBSERVER through a Freedom of Information Law request, total overtime paid from January to May has been $294,829.77 with more than 7,211 hours of clocked overtime. The top three employees on the list were pulling in more than $47,000 of that. Of the top 10 on the list, eight work at the wastewater treatment plant.

While criticizing two hours of overtime that totals less than $83, council is much more forgiving of the large sums of money. “They’re down operators at the moment,” First Ward Councilman Don Williams said of the wastewater treatment plant. “While trainees are training for the licenses they can’t be alone, a licensed operator has to be with them. That’s why there’s so much overtime there.”

The leading overtime employee is Suzanne Johnston, who is classified as a sanitary chemist. She worked 602.28 hours of overtime for the first five months of the year collecting $16,687. Second was William Moore, senior treatment plant operator. He worked an extra 377.18 hours earning $16.093.84. Also in the Top 10 were:

¯ Jason Sebzda, treatment plant operator trainee, 372.97 hours, $14,453.71.

¯ Steven Huels, lab tech, 250 hours, $9,410.58.

¯ Michael Porpiglia, public works supervisor, 230.5, $7,180.86.

¯ James Matson, pretreatment coordinator, 191.95, $7,374.69.

¯ Timothy Gotowka, senior municipal worker, 182.42, $7,806.85.

¯ David Felt, treatment plant trainee, 171.1, $6,766.07.

¯ Jeffrey Diers, treatment plant lab tech, 169, $5,386.18.

¯ Kyle Goss, treatment plant operator trainee, 158.25, $6,344.

By department, the wastewater treatment plant had 2,696 hours of overtime, costing $99,008. Streets were second with 1,440 hours and $50,509 in costs. Police were third with 1,076 hours and costs of $63,480 followed by the water department at 899 and $33,128 and fire at 794 and $38,475. City Hall employees were next with 214 hours and $7,036 in costs.

Council also has no issue with Councilman Williams’ son, Donald Williams III, collecting overtime. In the first five months of this year, he recorded 148.25 hours of overtime and earned $5,149.77. He was 12th on this list of employees with overtime hours.

Williams did share in an interview this week that a lot of that overtime at the top of this list will be decreasing as wastewater trainees are ready to be tested. Shifts would then normalize and overtime will go down.

“Anyone working in the plant needs to have this state license or the fines would be tremendous,” Councilman-at-large Paul VanDenVouver added. “The city has to strictly follow (Environmental Protection Agency) and (Department of Environmental Conservation) regulations.”

“My biggest complaint is that there is no sheet detailing why (Hector Rosas) has overtime,” Williams commented. “Everyone else has to have a sheet saying who, what where when and why and has to be signed off by the appropriate department head. Hector doesn’t have that and it’s his brother, the mayor, that is always signing off on him.”

When Mayor Wilfred Rosas was questioned on this point, he replied that’s “not true, but sometimes I do have to sign off on overtime. When a supervisor is not around they call me to sign off, it’s my job as mayor to oversee every department in the city and that’s what I do.”

Rosas commented that he in no way hired his brother, citing that Hector Rosas has worked for the city for 40 years.

“Sometimes also events get planned at a last minute, like the Memorial Day event. Rebecca (Wurster, Development Department director) was not involved in,” Rosas said. “I called Hector to put together what we needed at a moment’s notice, so yes I did sign off on that overtime then as I was the one overseeing it.”

“Yeah Hector only had 12 hours this year, because we stopped all that additional overtime,” VanDenVouver said. “If you look at years prior he had a lot more.”

Hector Rosas is expected to retire at the end of this month.