High­way work­ers in Ham­burg ex­press lack of con­fi­dence in road su­per­in­ten­dent

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Bar­bara O’Brien

Ham­burg town high­way work­ers have shown dis­ap­proval of their boss by over­whelm­ingly pass­ing a vote of no con­fi­dence in him.

It’s the lat­est flap in­volv­ing High­way Su­per­in­ten­dent Ted Casey, the un­der­dog who de­ci­sively beat the eight-year in­cum­bent in 2017 to win the job.

Since then, he balked at run­ning the Build­ings and Grounds De­part­ment with­out a larger stipend, got a ticket for run­ning a red light in Philadel­phia with a town SUV and hired his son.

But Casey, in an email, said the vote taken Tues­day was pure politics.

“It is clear that this was mo­ti­vated by a po­lit­i­cal agenda rather than any real of­fenses on the part of me as the high­way su­per­in­ten­dent,” he said.

The is­sues, said Ove Overmyer, a spokesman for the Civil Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­a­tion western re­gion, in­volved “un­eth­i­cal and de­ceit­ful be­hav­ior.”

“This has been go­ing on since day one,” Overmyer said. “They’ve been try­ing to work with the su­per­in­ten­dent, but he’s been heavy-handed.”

He said the vote was 27-1 in fa­vor of the vote of no con­fi­dence.

Overmyer de­clined to be spe­cific, but Casey said he was told the com­plaints

one church was touched.

“God blessed me all the way, I didn’t have to see any ac­tion,” he said. “I stayed right in Manila un­til they sent me home in 1946. I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”

Vi­lardo re­turned home to his fam­ily in April 1946 and went on to build his own clan: The 94-year-old West Seneca res­i­dent has six chil­dren, 10 grand­chil­dren and 14 great-grand­chil­dren.

“We had kids pretty fast, and I prayed to God, ‘Please let me live long enough to see my kids grown up and taken care of,’ ” said Vi­lardo, whose wife, Rose­mary, passed away in 2007. “So our kids are all grown up, they all found a job in the area and no­body had to move away. Eight of my grand­chil­dren found jobs in Buf­falo; two are still young. And now I’m see­ing my greatgrand­chil­dren grow up.

“I asked for a slice of bread, and he gave me a whole loaf.”

Vi­lardo was drafted in June 1943, right af­ter he graduated from Ni­a­gara Falls High School. He trained with his fel­low troops of Bat­tery B of the 326th AAA Search­light Bat­tal­ion, an anti-air­craft unit, in Texas and Florida for about two years. The bat­tal­ion never served in that ca­pac­ity dur­ing wartime, how­ever; it was sent to the Philippines as in­fantry re­place­ments, Vi­lardo said.

The bat­tal­ion was com­posed of radar, search­light and ar­tillery units that used 90 mm guns. They par­tic­i­pated in ex­er­cises in Texas but also had spe­cial train­ing in Or­lando. Vi­lardo, a radar op­er­a­tor, said his bat­tal­ion had to con­struct and de­con­struct a large radar unit – radar was a new tech­nol­ogy at the time – that needed to be trans­ported via truck. In ex­er­cises held at night, planes would take off from nearby air­ports, Vi­lardo and his fel­low sol­diers would track them on radar, help­ing search­light crews find them for the an­ti­air­craft gun­ners.

A staff sergeant, Vi­lardo de­scribed his mil­i­tary ser­vice as a time “of honor, and of pride.”

His unit was sup­posed to meet up with Gen. Dou­glas MacArthur in the Philippines, but Vi­lardo said they missed MacArthur by a few weeks upon ar­riv­ing in April 1945.

Vi­lardo and his unit staffed the Manila Leave Cen­ter, where U.S. troops ate and rested while on leave.

MacArthur had lib­er­ated Manila in March 1945, but scat­tered fight­ing con­tin­ued in the Bat­tle of Lu­zon un­til Au­gust 1945, when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Ja­pan and Em­peror Hiro­hito an­nounced Ja­pan’s sur­ren­der.

Upon re­turn­ing to Western New York, Vi­lardo at­tended Ni­a­gara Univer­sity on the GI Bill, earn­ing a de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He met his wife when a buddy of his wanted to date a girl in Buf­falo, but she wanted to bring a friend, so he asked Tom if he would come along, too. It didn’t work out for his buddy – “no, she didn’t like him,” Vi­lardo said with a laugh – but he and Rose­mary hit it off and they were mar­ried in 1952. “It was love at first sight.”

Vi­lardo spent about 30 years “in the beer busi­ness” work­ing for Certo Broth­ers and J&M Distrib­u­tors, mov­ing to West Seneca in 1970. He re­tired in 1988 but con­tin­ued work­ing part-time as a Home En­ergy As­sis­tance Pro­gram in­spec­tor for Erie County, a job he con­tin­ued to do un­til last spring when he ripped a ham­string mus­cle.

Vi­lardo also was an ac­tive vis­i­tor to the YMCA for pick­le­ball games or spin­ning classes prior to his in­jury.

He has sur­vived throat can­cer and em­phy­sema, some­thing he at­tributes to prayer.

“He’s so re­li­gious, his whole life,” said his daugh­ter, Lor­raine, who lives with him in West Seneca. “He should have been a priest – my mother al­ways said the same thing. He prays ev­ery minute, ev­ery hour. That’s what’s got­ten him through his whole life. He’s very de­voted.”

“He has al­ways taken care of me,” said Vi­lardo, a reg­u­lar at St. Vin­cent de Paul Church in Spring Brook. He is es­pe­cially grate­ful for the reg­u­lar fam­ily gath­er­ings of 40-plus peo­ple.

“I’ve been blessed with good health and longevity so I could grow up with them,” he said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

Tom Vi­lardo was a staff sergeant in an anti-air­craft unit that trained to use radar to help lo­cate en­emy air­craft. But he was sent off as an in­fantry re­place­ment.

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