Empty reviewing stand

City Firefighters Don Wheeler, left, and Dan Lynch are seen standing on the mostly empty reviewing stand on Exchange Street during the annual Geneva Firemen’s Parade Saturday evening.

GENEVA — What’s the latest on a critical Facebook posting making the rounds in Geneva from a member of the Geneva Fire Department, who complained that no member of City Council or the administration was on the reviewing stand during the annual Geneva Firemen’s Parade Saturday evening?

The fire department member, Don Wheeler, has taken down the critical post he put up Saturday in which he asked why councilors and City Manager Sage Gerling were not sitting in the reviewing stand.

However, Wheeler was contrite in a new Facebook posting on Monday.

“I found out just this morning that City Council has never actually been formally invited,” said Wheeler, who did not return a phone message from the Finger Lakes Times on Monday. “Some just showed up, and usually with the encouragement of (the late) councilman John Joseph Greco. My post led you to believe that we were being boycotted or something. That is not the case. Many people were out of town and or had prior obligations.

“Being that there was absolutely nobody there on the reviewing stand other than one of the parade judges, I was asked by several people ‘where is everyone?’ I had no answer, therefore leading to my frustration.”

Wheeler apologized and asked those who read his post to “harbor no ill will towards our fine City Council and public officials.”

Gerling said she plans on doing better by the firefighters next year.

“We realized that John Greco was probably the one that organized city councilors and staff to be present,” she said. “I was not aware that this was a tradition for our participation, but I have marked my calendar for next year to make sure that councilors and staff are invited to participate in the reviewing stand. Assistant Chief Kevin Powers (the parade chairman) and all of the volunteers organizing the parade do such an amazing job.”

Fifth Ward Councilor Jason Hagerman confirmed that city councilors were not asked to be on the reviewing stand.

“In all my 12 years, I don’t recall ever being invited to sit at the judge’s platform for this event,” he said. “And unfortunately, social media gives people an easy platform to freely broadcast lopsided opinions. And while my opinions as a city councilor have not always aligned with those of the (city) departments, I do have great respect for all of the training that they commit to and the tasks they undertake as first responders, especially for those that volunteer their time and service. I am no stranger to volunteering, and I grew up knowing volunteer fireman as role models. It is a shame we expend energy dividing rather than uniting.”

Meanwhile, a City Council candidate took to Facebook to re-post the photo and criticize Council and the administration.

“What do you see wrong with this picture?” asked Frank Gaglianese, who is running for an at-large seat on City Council.

“Usually all those empty seats would have our city officials and City Council sitting in them. Sad state of affairs! It is time to elect someone who respects and represents everyone.”

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