Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 13, 2014

GOP lawmaker says housing rumor isn't true

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Niagara County lawmakers say there’s no truth to the “rumor” that sex offenders are able to take up residence on county-owned property on Davison Road.

That’s according to Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, who said a recent investigation by lawmakers showed the rumor to be untrue.

The county legislature’s administration committee tabled a resolution last week calling on Legislator Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, and Bill Rutland, president of the county’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 182 union, to prove those claims about sex offenders. 

At a March 4 legislature meeting, Rutland said publicly that there had been talk of building housing for sex offenders on the Davison Road property. Legislators denied that, as Updegrove said that was the first he’d heard of the rumor. 

Virtuoso said he did not say he heard rumors from others, but instead said that such statements needed to be investigated.

”I said, ‘now we’re hearing tonight from Mr. Rutland about rumors of sex offenders and we don’t know if this is true or not,’ then I said, ‘We have to watch, because sometimes when there’s smoke, there’s fire,’” Virtuoso said. 

Updegrove said he agreed with Virtuoso after watching a video of the March 4 meeting and advocated taking Virtuoso’s name off the resolution. The committee voted to make the change.

But Updegrove says he still has a concern about what was said.

”I’m concerned with the comment, ‘when there’s smoke, there’s fire,’” Updegrove said. “That’s the type of thing that could alarm people for no reason.” 

The reason for the resolution was to remove all doubt that sex offenders could be moved to Davison Road, Updegrove said.

Rutland told the Legislature he heard a rumor and repeatedly said that he didn’t believe it, because the property is next to a playground, Virtuoso said. And Rutland wasn’t addressing the body as a union president but as a resident in that neighborhood, Virtuoso added.

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