Super and board clash

"It strikes a balance between fiscal awareness and going to seven people," he said.

Messina alleges cronyism

Coffey and Rice will replace outgoing members Katherine McCarthy and Daniel Coffey, the latter of whom was appointed to chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Thomas Coffey is an administrator at the Albany County Nursing Home and a North Bethlehem resident. He said he applied for the post to become more involved in town government and also to give his part of town a voice.

"I echo what was said tonight about people feeling not being a part of the Town of Bethlehem," he said after the meeting.

Rice works in the New York Bankers Association in membership and communications, and formerly worked in the state senate in communications before moving to the private sector. He's an Elsmere resident.

"I've been here my whole life, and it's a good time in my life now to be able to contribute something back," Rice said.

Messina spoke out against the proposed appointments Wednesday, saying the appointment of Democratic Committee member Coffey would provide that group undue representation on town committees.

Councilman Mark Hennessey denied this statement during the meeting and called into question Messina's figures. Later, he acknowledged there are several Democratic committee members on both the planning and zoning boards, but said they are balanced by members of other political parties and emphasized that political affiliation does not play a part in his decision making process.

"Mr. Messina has made a habit of making false and incendiary statements," he said.

In a later interview, Messina went further, condemning Wednesday's appointments as purely political decisions the rest of the Town Board flatly refused to compromise with him on.

He said Daniel Coffey's appointment earlier in January to chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals was also a politically charged appointment, but one that he was willing to vote along with in exchange for an understanding that the Planning Board appointment process would be free from political considerations. Instead, he said, more qualified candidates were ignored and no effort was made to meet him in the middle on the issue.

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