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FEB 10 - FEB 17, 2015

Only in North Tonawanda: The Fight for Transparency

By Sweeney Payne

February 10, 2015

Civil War Colonel and NT resident Lewis T. Payne left a lasting legacy to his city.

A letter to the editor appeared in last week's edition of the Reporter, which the editors entitled, "Sweeney Payne's North Tonawanda Column Belongs in Enquirer." The sender identified him or herself as Remington Nash.

Sweeney Payne is the pseudonym we have selected as representing the kind of public servants and investors that made a City of North Tonawanda possible.

The Sweeney brothers, James and John, invested in most of what is today's North Tonawanda, along with George Goundry, and William Vandervoort.

John Sweeney was a Colonel during the Civil War. He left behind him a permanent memorial, the Col. John Sweeney Rural Cemetery, today's Sweeney Cemetery on Payne Avenue. The Sweeneys were active as public servants in the developing Town of Wheatfield in which today's NT was a part from 1836 until becoming a city in April 1897. The Sweeneys and their surviving family members played an active role in the development of NT from 1821 until well into the 1900s. That family donated significant amounts of their real estate holdings to serve the citizens of NT.

The Payne family, headed by another Civil War veteran, Colonel Lewis, who settled here before the Civil War, also served as public servants and invested in land. The Payne family also donated significant amounts of land to the City for the benefit of its citizens. Payne arrived in the 1840s. He and his family remained active in serving the Town of Wheatfield, the short-lived Village of Tonawanda and the Village of North Tonawanda and then the City of North Tonawanda well into the 1900s also.

The Sweeneys and Paynes were public servants and citizens (taxpayers, voters, and residents).

Across from the cemetery is the center of operations for those who should be the public servants of all of us as citizens of North Tonawanda.

Our column is meant to give a voice to the citizens of North Tonawanda—all of us, while also protecting those who fear retaliation for speaking out about their needs and expectations from elected officials. So many of us are fed up with being ridiculed and continually ignored. We are the silent majority in North Tonawanda, for too long put down by those in power for daring to express what we want to those we thought were supposed to be our public servants. Our column is meant to provide a forum for all residents, not just those connected to the ruling clique. We sincerely thank the Niagara Falls Reporter for giving us an opportunity to provide such a forum.

Because this newspaper tries to always be fair and totally honest with its readers, things which those of us who are Sweeney Payne, admire and strive to emulate while standing up for our individual and collective rights as citizens of North Tonawanda, we will respond to all who have similar opinions to ours and to all who have differing opinions. We will give all citizens of North Tonawanda the opportunity to express their opinions. We are not, however, just residents of the Sweeney and Payne area of North Tonawanda.

We are delighted to have an opportunity to "discuss" our own beliefs and convictions with those who have different opinions. One of our pet peeves is the infringing upon our rights to express our opinions to our current (and most recent former) elected and appointed officials for fear of ridicule or retaliation or outright refusal to allow us to speak in public or to meet privately with them to express our opinions.

We hope to answer Remington Nash in future columns item by item.

Thank you to another reader and citizen of North Tonawanda for the following email:

"I was reading that the City of North Tonawanda deemed it a fair price of $50,000 for a parcel of land at the public works building valued at $170,000. Now that sounds fair. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This whole city is a mess and now they want to give land away. I'm sure the person buying this land doesn't have any political friends in this city or any ex state officials. We all know that doesn't happen in this fine city or County. I mean we're not governed by a King in New York. We have a system so it's fair .I know in the past they mentioned a person called King George but I think that was a fairy tale."

Those of us who are Sweeney Payne know that this is just one example of political favoritism and lack of transparency.





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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina