Wayne supervisor discovers missing files
WAYNE--Tom Dunbar campaigned and won the supervisor position for the town of Wayne in last year's November election. The former Wayne town board member knew following his predecessor with 10 years experience in the office would have its challenges. He didn't expect to discover missing town files, computer hard drives deleted, the involvement of the state police and then a board that voted to put the former supervisor from the November election, Stephen Butchko, back on the town board.
That's what Dunbar has found so far. At the Tuesday, Jan. 14 town meeting Dunbar said, "The town is missing two file cabinets full of files, 18 file boxes, we had no electronic data files, our laptop was wiped, backup drives were deleted and the town's supervisor's phone was missing." Dunbar said the state police were called in and they made contact with Butchko Monday, Jan 6. Butchko came to the town office that afternoon and returned the supervisor's cell phone to the state police. Dunbar said the former supervisor claimed he had only taken his personal items from the town office and denied he had any of the missing town files.
The town's attorney, Leslie Connolly from Harter Secrest & Emery in Rochester, issued a demand letter to Butchko for the return of files. Three days later, Thursday, Jan. 9, Butchko returned to the Wayne town office and brought back an archival box of documents along with 40 gigabytes of electronic files. At the time, he said that's all he had. Dunbar said the town's attorney is planning to issue a second demand letter to Butchko. Connolly said the first letter was straightforward and pleasant. The attorney said the next demand letter will detail the possibility of legal action if town files have been removed, concealed and/or destroyed.
Butchko told The Observer Thursday, Jan. 16 he received the second demand letter Wednesday, Jan. 15. Butchko said, "I didn't realize some of the files that I had were the town's property so I am returning six more boxes of files this afternoon (Thursday, Jan. 16) along with some additional digital files." Butchko said these files along with files he had previously given to the clerk, the code enforcement officer and the history room should be all of the files missing.
Dunbar told the board and some 30 residents at the town meeting Tuesday, Jan. 14, Wayne may need to spend a significant amount of money to uncover and maybe reconstruct the missing files. Dunbar said, "We don't know what we don't know." Dunbar added, "Without the files, it makes my job almost impossible."
After updating the board and residents on the missing files, Dunbar called for an executive session to conduct an administrative review of the Butchko board appointment. Dunbar, board members and Attorney Connolly met in executive session for 50 minutes. When they re-convened, the only announcement made to the public was that their discussions needed to remain confidential at the current time but they expected an outcome in the near future. The board did not say if any votes were taken in executive session. After the meeting, The Observer learned that during the executive session the board did take a vote and decided to delay for one week the decision to have Butchko fill the open board seat from Dunbar's election win.
Dunbar then invited attending residents to speak at the meeting to air their views.
One resident questioned why in the world would the board vote to appoint former supervisor Butchko back on the town board. Board members were pressed by residents to answer why they ignored the three other interviews they had planned to conduct in their search to fill Dunbar's board seat. Instead, the board voted 3-1 to put Butchko back on the board. Residents repeated the question for board members to state who voted for Butchko. Board members Shoney, Freeman and Haff said they did vote for Butchko.
The next Wayne town board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11.