Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 9, 2013

Attorney in CWM expansion fight to appear in front of county legislature

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — An environmental attorney that has been working to fight the expansion of Chemical Waste Management’s bid to expand its landfill will appear in front of the Niagara County Legislature’s Administration Committee Tuesday evening.

The attorney, Gary Abraham of Allegany, has become an object of controversy in recent months. The legislature’s Republican caucus, which holds a majority in the governing body, removed an item from the agenda of an Oct. 15 meeting that would approve Abraham’s retainer, allowing him to continue working on behalf of the county and the town of Lewiston. The legislature has yet to vote on the measure.

The town approved a measure in November that paid the remaining balance of the $50,000 it pays to Abraham every other year, alternating with the county.

Last week, the Niagara USA Chamber issued a pair of memorandums urging the Niagara County Legislature to reconsider its agreement with the lawyer.

The first memorandum to the legislature contained inaccurate information regarding Abrahams employment with the municipalities.

The letter, issued last Tuesday, said Abraham, who has been working for the municipalities for eight years, was hired by the citizens group Residents for Responsible Government.

The unsigned letter also asserts that the county’s guidelines for hiring for professional services in excess of $20,000 requires the county to bid and that the counsel for the CWM expansion — the company is a member of the chamber — should be subject to a bidding process.

Both assertions were erroneous and the chamber issued a statement for “clarification” on Wednesday, retracting those aspects of the letter.

“It has been brought to our attention that some of our statements may not be factually accurate, particularly that the county provides funding for RRG to hire this attorney,” the second letter, also unsigned, said. “Instead, it appears the county hires the attorney directly, though as evidenced by recent press accounts, RRG is heavily engaged with this attorney.”

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