TONAWANDA, N.Y. — Mayor Rick Davis doesn’t want to talk about his recent vacation, but several people inside City of Tonawanda government are.
At first, says Common Council President Jenna Koch, "We didn’t even know he was out of town.” And while Mayor Davis has not confirmed it, 2 On Your Side has obtained copies of internal emails chronicling an odd tug of war over temporary powers in the mayor’s absence.
On February 5, the City of Tonawanda clerk sent the following email to all government department heads:
Minutes later, Mayor Davis sends an email to city department heads ordering them to ignore the previous email:
Koch then responds with this email:
Again, replying rapidly, Davis rejects the legal advice from the City Attorney:
Three days later, City Attorney S. Michael Rua emailed the mayor and all members of the Tonawanda Common Council to reiterate his legal opinion that Koch is temporarily in charge while Mayor Davis is out of town on vacation:
It was apparently quiet until February 12, when the Mayor’s administrative assistant Chuck Gilbert sent out this email announcing the Mayor’s return:
In last week's Common Council meeting, Koch entered the emails into the record and announced she had filed a formal complaint against Mayor Davis.
Koch tells 2 On Your Side that her concern was that there be somebody in charge in case of an emergency. She notes there is an ongoing pandemic, and during Davis’ vacation, there was a Winter Storm Warning.
Again, Mayor Davis has refused to discuss his absence or why he’s disregarded the City Attorney’s legal opinion other than to say in an email, “The Council, City Attorney’s office, and I are working through issues and ambiguity that has long been known about our City Charter. I remain hopeful that we will be able to come to a positive conclusion. Any further comments can be forwarded to our City Attorney.”