A political controversy has flared up in Cheektowaga involving a World War II veteran whose position as a Bingo Inspector was not renewed by the town board.
Anthony Prep, 89, served as one of the town's four bingo inspectors for the past nine years.
During last night's town board meeting, the majority of the board voted to replace him with Christine Witkowski, a elderly woman who Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said worked part-time in the town court.
However, Benczkowski was so upset by the decision to replace Prep that she posted messages on social media saying the veteran was a victim of "political retribution."
Anthony Prep told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that he also believes he was a victim of political punishment for not supporting Councilman James Rogowski (D) in his run for a New York State Assembly seat. Anthony Prep has been a Democratic Party Committeeman for the past 28 years.
Rogowski strongly denied the allegation saying he voted for the change based on who he thought was best for the position. "This to me is just a political witch hunt because someone didn't get what they wanted," said Rogowski by telephone.
Late this afternoon, other town board members who voted for the change sent out a press release explaining why they took the action they did. You can read the release below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Councilwoman Christine Adamczyk
Councilwoman Alice Magierski
Councilmember Gerald Kaminski
January 25, 2017
In response to Town of Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski’s outrageous claims regarding Bingo Inspectors, we provide the following.
On January 24, 2017 we voted in support of an elderly woman, Christine Witkowski, to be appointed as a Bingo Inspector to replace Tony Prep. Christine is on a fixed income and is qualified for this position. Our vote was not due to any animus toward Mr. Prep, but it was to give Christine the same opportunity that has been afforded to Mr. Prep for the last 9 years.
We are very grateful for Mr. Prep and his military service to our country. Christine has served in our courts for several years as a part-time clerk. Her husband, who is now deceased, was also a veteran, just like Mr. Prep, serving in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam. Christine indicated that she would like to be a Bingo Inspector; and, after considering the matter, we decided our vote was best placed with her.
Supervisor Benczkowski’s attempts to politicize this are not only petty and abhorrent, but they are beneath us. During the vote, Supervisor Benczkowski pointed out that Mr. Prep gathers political petitions for her, which should be irrelevant. Supervisor Benczkowski was aware that Mr. Prep would not be able to gain the four (4) votes needed and still chose to add him to the agenda regardless. Such a blatant political move is unfortunate and serves no purpose other than to attempt to embarrass other elected officials.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly sat down today with the veteran to hear his comments on the situation.