Residents Act to Remove Corfu Mayor

11:38 PM, Apr 12, 2013   |    comments
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CORFU, NY - The village of Corfu, a small community in Genesee County with about 700 people is dealing with a major crisis. Residents there say their mayor isn't answering to the people and is making harsh decisions.

On Friday, elected officials and residents gathered to try to deal with the problem.

Ralph Peterson, who's only been mayor of the village for about a week is already making enemies.

"We as trustees have repeatedly told you to slow down, you created this mess with the village clerk and the assistant and your actions are only making it worst," said Ken Lauer, a village trustee, at an emergency board meeting to speak with residents about the problems the village is facing.

"I saw a newly elected official kind of push his way through office and it's a shame he did it," said Arthur Ianni, another trustee on the board.

Trustees say that Peterson has been reckless. The most egregious show of power, according to Corfu trustees, is when Peterson fired two staffers this week from the clerk office. The move sent the office into confusion about who would pick up the extra duties. It got so chaotic, that the village closed its offices for a few hours the past couple of days to sort things out.

"What he told us was that they weren't doing what he wanted them to do, so he told them that he was not going to reappoint them," said Lauer.

Residents say they've never seen anything like this from Peterson when he was a village trustee for six years. Peterson was invited to Friday's meeting to explain his decision, but never showed. On Friday the village board acted to restrict the mayor from talking to contractors related to village work - claiming he's been deceitful to trustees. The board also voted to allow the unemployed staffers to get their jobs back whenever they want. The board fell one vote short of requesting the mayor to resign.

Ianni voted against the move, falling short of the three-vote unanimous decision that was needed.

"I don't think that a guy who's been in office for seven days should be judged on his first seven days," he said.

However, many village residents don't want the mayor to continue to work and get a paycheck. And are circulating a petition, which will be sent to Governor Cuomo to have Peterson removed from office.

Residents say they'd like to see Peterson's pay cut entirely or at least reduced. Village trustees say they'll meet in about a week and a half. There's a chance that a vote urging Peterson to resign could come up again. 2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval reached out to Peterson for comment, however we have not heard back.

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