Winkley: Reiter Did It His Way; A Picture(s)Paints a 1,000 words
By Frank Parlato
For several weeks we detailed the motley and curious activities of former Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steven Reiter while serving as supervisor and town highway superintendent.
Last week Reiter told the Niagara Falls Reporter, amid quips and pleasantries, that he felt good about himself and what he has done for the town. But he politely declined to answer specific questions.
"I'm out of office," he said. "I'm not planning to run for any office, but, I will never say 'never.' I'm 60 years old. I'm retired. I have a few little things going on, on the side, helping people out, just so I have a reason to get up in the morning. I'm happy. I'm kind of glad I'm out [of (political life]."
Town councilman and former Lewiston Police Department Chief Ron Winkley, a friend and former ally of Reiter's, was, however, willing to provide the Reporter with some insights into the Reiter era.
Asked why Reiter got into so much "trouble," at least enough to end his 30 year career with the town, Winkley replied, "His biggest downfall was that he did everything by himself. We could not watch Steve 24 hours. But I don't think Steve did things to gain anything. He would do anything for anybody. He did things for the town, and, in his mind, the town should do things for him. 'If I want to use the lawnmower (a town-owned piece of equipment), I'll use the lawnmower.' If a town resident wanted to use it, he would let him. The times change, but he didn't. He is just the way he was. He's not a vicious person. Now we are making moves to insure things like this (i.e. using the town vehicle for personal business or taking town gasoline for non town usage) do not happen again."
The councilman added, "I believe Steve did things for the betterment of the town, but he did things his way.. In the end, we tried to rein him in, and shame on us (the town board) for not doing it earlier. He was a lieutenant colonel in the military and he had charm. He could sell ice to an Eskimo... We trusted our leader."
When asked about the alleged theft of fuel, Winkley said, "I don't doubt Steve did it, and I know he is embarrassed about it. But we have to take just as much responsibility on the board. In hindsight, there were signs and warnings that we didn't take seriously."
Winkley said there may be more than a quest for justice behind the many calls and emails to the Reporter disclosing matters related to Reiter.
"There are reasons that people are trying to keep this in the forefront," Winkley said. "The opposing party (Democrats) smells blood. . . If it was the other way around, the Republican side would do the same thing."
Interestingly, not one, but two former police chiefs, Winkley and former Niagara Falls Police Chief Ernie Palmer, sat on the Lewiston Town Board while Reiter was accused of stealing gas and acting improperly in various dealings with town property.
Palmer resigned and the board appointed William Conrad to replace him.
Some of our readers have been saying that some, most, or all of the things that the Niagara Falls Reporter has published about former Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steven Reiter are untrue.
For instance, one person said it is hard to believe a town supervisor would sell firewood out of the back of a town truck just to try to make a few quick dollars, or use a town truck (and gas) to tow his lawnmower to cut his own lawn in open view of everyone in town.
The first picture is one of Reiter's town-issued trucks parked at the Lewiston Town Hall loaded with bundles of firewood, wrapped in plastic which, witnesses say, he sold to campers at Lazy Lakes Campground for $7 per bundle.
Reiter declined to comment on the service he provided to happy campers in the Ransomville campground, or whether he donated the money he earned back to the town or reimbursed the town for gas he used to drive back and forth.
CUT MY LAWN, PLEASE
Here is a photo of Reiter's town-owned truck parked in his mother's driveway with his personal trailer hooked up to it and his lawnmower on the trailer. It is not known whether he was using his lawnmower to cut town property, or using the town truck to tow his lawnmower to cut his own lawn. Reiter declined comment
In any event, these may not be high crimes but examples of a man using public assets, at the very least, in an unconventional way. In a bygone era, this might have been not only the norm, but what was expected.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Mar 25, 2014