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Hamburg highway superintendent must surrender his town vehicle

Highway superintendent calls accusations a "political vendetta"
Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 09, 2019

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Town of Hamburg is investigating whether Hamburg Highway Superintendent Ted Casey misused a town vehicle for personal reasons.

"We've got rules and everybody should march to the same instructions," said Hamburg Supervisor James Shaw.

Shaw explained that a town employee/resident filed a complaint after spotting the highway superintendent's official Ford Expedition in the Regal Cinemas parking lot in Orchard Park.

"And there have been other allegations made," added Shaw.

A resolution was presented to the Hamburg Town Board calling on Superintendent Ted Casey to surrender his highway department vehicle to town police. If the superintendent fails to surrender the SUV, the resolution calls on police to take the vehicle "without further notice."

At the town board's meeting on Monday evening, the board voted unanimously on the resolution. Superintendent Casey will surrender his town vehicle by Friday for 60 days, but will still be able to drive highway department vehicles, only during work hours.

"I think it is politically motivated pettiness," Ted Casey told Reporter Ed Reilly.

Casey, a Democrat, believes the issue is being pushed by out-going town councilman Tom Best, Jr., a Republican, who is the son of former Hamburg Highway Superintendent Tom Best, who Casey defeated two years ago.

"I think he is upset about that continually. Instead of helping the highway department, the last thing he is going to do, as a Town of Hamburg board member, is to harm the highway department," commented Casey.

However, Supervisor Shaw said the town has a duty to make sure the vehicle is not being misused - even a little bit. "It constitutes a gift of public property which is improper for a private purpose," said Shaw.

Superintendent Casey said he needs to have the vehicle with him in case of emergency because it contains special lights, communication equipment, and personal safety gear. Since he is on-call 24/7, Casey said, "I should not have to put my personal safety nor that of residents at stake."

As to the vehicle being at the Orchard Park movie theater, Casey said he went there to "unwind" after working 10-12 hours on a Saturday.

Casey points to state law that, he said, allows highway superintendents to determine how highway vehicles are used and if they can be parked at homes overnight.

In addition, Casey argues that he has used his own personal vehicle to respond to emergencies, such as the Hoover beach windstorm in November, but his efforts were hampered because he did not have his official truck with lights, radios and gear.

"I don't want to be an ogre about it and I don't think the town wants to be unduly punitive," explained Supervisor Shaw. "We'll try to do the right thing for Ted Casey and the community."