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Lilly avoids questions on 'The Vanguard'

Six Seven editions of The Vanguard have been printed and distributed, mostly in the Lewiston-Porter area, since last June. Most, if not all, of the bylines on its stories are psuedonymns. It contains no advertising.

Trying to get former Lewiston-Porter School Board member Edward M. Lilly (photo by John Hickey/Buffalo News) to answer questions about his association with the publication proved to be quite a challenge.

In the end, he didn't really answer any of them.Lilly

Instead, Lilly decided to communicate with us through a two-page, handwritten statement he faxed to our office. We agreed to post the full statement on Click here to see what Lilly sent us, in its entirety.

It reads (unedited):

"My first involvement with the Vanguard newspaper was when four state troopers, including Ben Campbell, came to my house at 2:00 a.m.

The State Police were looking for the "Loser Cop Loses" edition, and had also pounded on my 70 year old mother-in-laws door, in the middle of that same nite.

Campbell had given my mother-in-law 3 unwarranted tickets and Judge Sheerans improper decision was rightfully overturned by a higher court.

The "Reporter" and the "Vanguard" had covered this mis carriage of justice.

I read many publications and find that the "Kiplinger Letter" and the "Vanguard" have the most inside information.

I am proud to disseminate any publication that delivers the truth to the people."

We asked him the following questions on the phone and in writing before and after we received his statement:

--  Are you saying you were not, in any way, involved in the Vanguard or its publication before the July 16 incident?

-- Have you distributed the Vanguard, and if so, in what capacity? i.e., Have you delivered it? If you have delivered it, was it on a regular basis?

-- Have you paid for any content in the Vanguard or for its publication?

-- Have you written stories for the Vanguard?

--  In your view, does the Vanguard deliver the truth to the people?

--  Publications have included photographs or doctored photographs of President Barack Obama dressed in a Nazi uniform, three male Lew-Port teachers union members standing together shirtless with captions inferring sexual behavior and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown eating fried chicken. Do you believe those depictions have redeeming value?

Lilly never answered.

--Aaron Besecker

Sabre to help draw at college blood drive

   Buffalo Sabre Jason Pominville will sign autographs for donors at a blood drive Thursday at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn.

   Pominville Pominville (photo by News Staff Photographer Mark Mulville) is scheduled to begin signing at 2 p.m., according to a press release issued by the college.

   The Upstate New York Transplant Services blood drive runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the college cafeteria, on the second floor of "G' building.

   Donors must be at least 17 with a minimum weight of 117 pounds, in good health and able to drive the day of the event.

College student from NT named in suit over alcohol death

A Geneseo State College student from North Tonawanda has been named in a $2.5 million lawsuit over an alcohol poisoning death of another student earlier this year.

According to a story published today by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Adam C. Brownstein of North Tonawanda is one of eight defendants in a civil suit filed by the father of the deceased student, 19-year-old Arman Partamian.

More from the story by Staff Writer Bennett J. Loudon:

Partamian, who lived in a dorm at SUNY Geneseo, was found dead in a bed at 4359 Lower Court St. in the town of Geneseo. The address is the headquarters of the Pigs, an outlawed off-campus fraternity. The blood-alcohol content in various parts of his body ranged from 0.39 to 0.55 [percent].

As part of an initiation process, Partamian and two other pledges were forced to play drinking games and consume excessive amounts of alcohol over several days, according to the suit.

A Williamsville man had faced a charge of criminally negligent homicide, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, according to the D&C's story.

--Aaron Besecker

Niagara Falls drops class rankings for today's graduation

   There will be no valedictorian at today's Niagara Falls High School graduation.

   As Niagara Correspondent Caitlin Murray reports in today's Buffalo News, 18 students will graduate instead with valedictory honors.

   “We felt it was nice to recognize a valedictorian, but those other kids were so close,” said James Spanbauer, head of Niagara Falls High School. “We’re talking hundredths of a point sometimes. We felt they were all deserving.” 

   Niagara Falls is the first district in Niagara County to do away class rankings and naming a valedictorian.

   Read the full story here.

Bianco named to lead Niagara Falls schools

   Without interviewing any candidates, the Niagara Falls SchBianco cynthia FOR WEB12476381H5307862ool Board on Thursday unanimously appointed Cynthia Bianco the district's new superintendent.

   Bianco, who was serving as interim superintendent, follows her brother, Carmen Granto, as chief of the city's schools.

   She was given a three-year contract with an annual salary of $155,000.

   School Board Vice President Don King said the hiring process the board followed opens the district up to allegations of nepotism and complacency.

   Read the full story by Niagara Correspondent Caitlin Murray here.

   See the first comment below for a statement issued by King. Click here to read Bianco's statement to the board.


Niagara Falls School Board meeting tonight

   The regular school year is over. High school graduation is Saturday. And when the Niagara Falls School Board will meets tonight, it will be the last for incumbent Board member Jeanette Stypa (pictured, photo by Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo).Stypa for web 12473842H1855891

   The board will meet in the Central Administration Building, 630 66th St.

   An agenda review session begins at 5:30 p.m., while the voting agenda is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

   Here are a few highlights from tonight's agenda:

   - The review session will include a presentation from Niagara University officials about a potential partnership between the district and the university.

   - Two requested change orders for contracts awarded to Scrufari Construction for parking lot work.

   - A report on the district's graduation rate.

   Art Jocoy Jr. won a seat on the board in May's election by getting the second-most votes, and his term begins Wednesday. The other incumbent, Nicholas Vilardo, was the top vote getter and will return to the board for another term.

   Click here for a link to the school board's full agenda and supporting materials.

   If you go to the meeting or want to talk about what happened, check back with us at the Niagara Views blog, leave a comment and discuss with other readers what took place.

   -- Aaron Besecker

Starpoint School Board meets tonight

   The Starpoint School Board meets tonight, the final time for the 2008-09 school year.

   A public forum begins at 7:20 p.m. in the district's board conference room in Starpoint Middle School on the district's Mapleton Road campus. The regular agenda begins at 7:30 p.m.

   Here are a couple of highlights from the board's agenda:

   - A report on the district's math assessment scores

   - Appointments to a variety of district positions, including some classroom personnel  

   Click here to view the full agenda.

   If you go to the meeting, check back with us at the Niagara Views blog, leave a comment and discuss with other readers what took place.


Message of hope from the pulpit at Lew-Port

   It's not a battle between a Baptist minister from Buffalo and a Niagara County School Board president.

   The Rev. Darius Pridgen on Tuesday night said the issue of Robert J. Weller's e-mails is really about giving everyone in the community a chance to gain a greater understanding about the amount of work left to be done with regard to race relations in America.

   "I think what hopefully began as possibly poor judgment," Pridgen said, "ends in good leadership and as an example to children and youth and to adults all over this country."

   Read today's full story on last night's Lew-Port meeting here.

   Here's the full text of the written statement Weller distributed to the press:

   "I would like to once again apologize and say how sorry I am to anyone whom I have offended by forwarding some private political satire to six friends of mine on the board. If I had intended to hurt anyone and use it in a destructive way, I would have sent it to many more people.

   "Little did I know that someone here was harboring their own political agenda and would use it against me nine months later. It is a shame they had to share personal e-mail with the press and cast a dim view on a great school district at the expense of discrediting my personal character. Clearly, I exercised poor judgment and will not do it again."

   Listen to Pridgen's full comments from Tuesday night here.

   Listen to an interview with Weller that followed Tuesday's meeting here.

   -- Aaron Besecker

Weller says he'll stay put on Lew-Port school board

   Lewiston-Porter School Board President Robert J. Weller says he will not step down from his seat, as reported in today's News and on

   Weller refused to resign after being asked to by school district administration.

   No violation of school board policy was found, the administration said.

   "There's no specific board policy you can put your finger on that he has violated," Superintendent R. Christopher Roser said. "It was certainly in poor taste, but we can't find anything. We can support him as board member and not support what he does as a private citizen."

   Weller sent e-mail messages to other board members who considered some of them to be racist and sexist, as reported in The News on June 7.

   Read today's full story here.

   --Aaron Besecker

Lew-Port School Board president apologizes for racist e-mails


   Lewiston-Porter School Board President Robert J. Weller on Tuesday sent a letter to the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen apologizing for sending e-mails seen as racist and sexist.

   As reported in today's Buffalo News and on, Weller told News Staff Reporter Harold McNeil in an interview that the e-mails were intended for "a so-called inner circle of friends, and I apologize that that friend leaked it out to the news."

   Read today's full story here.

   You can also see a copy of Weller's letter here.

   --Aaron Besecker

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