Nowak calls For Sale sign “antagonistic” and “petty bullying”

Councilmember Brian Nowak is crying foul over the for sale sign used on the town's hovercraft. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Councilmember Brian Nowak is crying foul over the for sale sign used on the town's hovercraft. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – Cheektowaga Councilmember Brian Nowak had harsh words for the Highway Department at Tuesday night’s council meeting regarding its recent attempt to sell the town’s hovercraft. 

It was discovered that someone in the department put down the Town Hall phone number of Councilmember Gerald Kaminski as the number for potential buyers to call when the hovercraft was placed on the front lawn of the Highway Department last Friday.

The bitter relationship between Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner and Mr. Kaminski is not a secret.  Mr. Wegner is currently suing Mr. Kaminski and two other sitting board members for defamation.  Mr. Nowak says the move equates to “petty bullying.”

“In my view, putting that phone number on that hovercraft was done for one of two purposes.  Number one was to legitimately try to sell the hovercraft off the front lawn, and number two was for antagonistic purposes.  I ruled out number one because Councilmember Kaminski didn’t agree to have his number there and he’s not a liaison to the Highway Department,” said Mr. Nowak.

With a new For Sale sign in hand, Mr. Nowak dared the Highway Department with an ultimatum.

“If you want to put a phone number on the hovercraft and put it back on the front lawn let’s do one of two things; let’s put the phone number that goes to the Highway Department, and if the Highway Department wants to harass councilmembers they could put my phone number on it,” he said.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski fired back. “Did you have any of this discussion with the highway superintendent councilmember,” she said proceeding a back and forth with Mr. Nowak.  “You should really call the highway superintendent directly councilmember instead of putting on this public spectacle.”

“I think the residents of the town should be aware of it,” Mr. Nowak said.  “I would love to talk to the highway superintendent about it, but the highway superintendent didn’t talk to anyone of us about putting the hovercraft on the front lawn, so I’m just returning the same courtesy that was expressed to me.”

Cheektowaga Chronicle reached Mr. Wegner by phone Wednesday and he says there was no malicious intent by putting Mr. Kaminski’s phone number on the For Sale sign.

“He’s the one that sells the equipment.  He’s the one that brings it up every meeting, so why wouldn’t he want to know what the price was, I can’t make the price,” Mr. Wegner said.  “Everybody was calling [the Highway Department] asking how much is it and does it work.  Yes, it works.  Everything is fine. I don’t know the price because it’s up to the board.  Why wouldn’t you call the board?”

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski contradicts that statement by deferring sale related issues to Mr. Wegner.  She said in an email obtained by Cheektowaga Chronicle, “Any questions related to a phone number put on a For Sale sign or the procedure of the sale of the hovercraft should be directed to the Highway Superintendent.”

She went on to say “grandstanding” at the board meeting is “not the way to go about getting answers.”

Meantime, the ongoing saga of the town’s hovercraft became fodder for the popular Shredd and Ragan Show on WEDG-FM Wednesday morning.  The duo performed an old-timey Miami Vice-esque radio drama in which the crimefighting hovercraft played an essential role in solving a homicide in town.

Advice to our town board members. Really do your homework if two Milwaukee men with mustaches and Russian accents ask about buying the hovercraft.

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