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Today in City Hall: Smarter Cities

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

Today Mayor Byron Brown will welcome a team from IBM, which is offering technical assistance to the city through its "Smarter Cities" program. 

The grant offers services to help the city address quality of life issues using data, valued at $400,000. A team will be in Buffalo for three weeks. 

The city already uses data through its CitiStat program to decide where to make investments and to place staff. The city's Clean Sweep program is also data-driven, and is based on calls to 911 and its 311 center, which handles non-emergency complaints about illegal dumping, rats, broken street lights and other quality of life issues.

Also today, the Common Council's committees will meet and discuss "ban the box" legislation, which would prohibit most employers in the city from asking about a person's criminal history on job applications. Questions about prior convictions would be permitted during an initial job interview, according to the legislation, from Majority Leader Demone Smith.  

The New York Times on Monday had an editorial about the national movement to ban the box. 

And this morning, the Planning Board held a short meeting and approved a few minor projects, relative to the major developments the board has had in the last few months. Some projects were on the list only because they cost more than $100,000, which triggers board approval. Others were on the agenda only because they are in special districts, not because the building is being renovated. 

They are: 

* A new two-story carriage house with a two-bedroom unit and a four-car garage was approved at a private residence at 341 Linwood. The Preservation Board has already approved the project. 

* "Rascals" is being revived at 1516 Niagara St., and will include an ice cream stand and clam shack. 

* A new panini, pizza and sandwich shop at the former Gino's Italian Bakery at 1368 Hertel Ave. was approved. Owner Michael Petrillo told the board he is also applying for a full liquor license and hopes to be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  

* Plans for new energy efficient windows on the second, third and fourth floors of Hertel Park Senior Housing, 1631 Hertel Ave., were approved. 

* Plans for a 62-space parking lot at Elmwood-Franklin School at 104 New Amsterdam Ave. in North Buffalo were tabled at the request of the school, to allow more time to address neighbor concerns.  


Byron Brown | CitiStat | City of Buffalo | Common Council | Demone Smith
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |