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Video: Third mayoral debate

Incumbent Mayor Byron W. Brown and challengers Bernard Tolbert and Sergio R. Rodriguez squared off in a debate Tuesday. Watch a replay of it here:

Continue reading "Video: Third mayoral debate" »

Rodriguez unveils 12-point crime-fighting plan

By Robert J. McCarthy

   On the day he will appear in a live, televised mayoral election debate, Republican candidate Sergio R. Rodriguez Tuesday released a 12-point crime fighting plan he says will "enhance the quality and quantity of police presence in the city."

   "Too often, the only contact with police our citizens in certain neighborhoods have is when someone is being arrested," he said. "We need to act to make the police more engaged with the neighborhoods they are hired to serve, as advocates and protectors, not simply enforcers."

   Here is the plan Rodriguez proposed Tuesday:

   1. Hire a new police commissioner:

   Conduct a nationwide and internal search for a new police commissioner who meets established criteria, who has a proven track record of work in a similar environment, and who understands the reality and urgency of our situation in Buffalo. Reform and improvement of policing must begin at the top.

   2. End the routine use of overtime and reallocate the $11 million currently being used to pay overtime, to hire at least 150 new police officers. Overtime also contributes excessively to legacy and pension costs. This is because police officers’ retirement is based on the average of the highest three years worth of salary. Because of this loophole, some retired police officers make as much as $105,000 per year in taxpayer-funded pension. Therefore, reducing overtime presents an opportunity to trim down pension and legacy costs for city residents.

   3. With new police hiring we will designate 100 foot patrol officers who will be engaging with the community and getting to know them on a more personal basis. Foot patrol officers will be assigned for the purpose of establishing relationships with community members on their beat, and offering themselves as problem solvers as well as enforcing the law where needed.

   4. Patrol cars in areas with a high level of violent crime will be assigned two officers per vehicle. This will not only encourage police officers to walk the beat but will enable them to respond more quickly to crimes in progress since they will not need to wait for backup.

   5. Reduce response time for all 911 calls. Having an additional 150 officers on the force will allow for more expedient response times not only for major crimes but for any legitimate police report.

   6. Make existing fixed security camera monitors accessible to citizens online, to view footage and live action. Allow citizens to comment on line regarding any crime or suspicious activity they witness while monitoring camera activity. However...

   7. Since the use of fixed pole security cameras simply moves crime from one corner to another corner, we will reallocate funds designated for more fixed cameras to purchase dash cams for patrol cars. Dash cameras have been an effective tool used to reduce litigation costs involving citizen complaints of police abuse, will make officers more accountable, and will assist police and prosecutors in documenting arrests.

    8. Implement crime prevention programs that have been proven effective in other urban environments, such as Cease Fire in Boston. Cease Fire was originally developed by the Boston Police Department’s Youth Violence Strike Force to reduce gang violence, illegal gun possession, and gun violence in communities. The goals of the program are to carry out a comprehensive strategy to apprehend and prosecute offenders who carry firearms, to put others on notice that offenders face certain and serious punishment for carrying illegal firearms, and to prevent youths from following the same criminal path. As a deterrence strategy, the intervention is based on the assumption that crimes can be prevented when the costs of committing the crime are perceived by the offender to outweigh the benefits of committing a crime. It targets high-risk youths as well as serious and violent juvenile offenders.

   9. Recognize the shortcomings of the existing gun buyback program, in that it actually gives criminals an opportunity to destroy evidence of gun violence, and be paid for it at the same time. Instead, we will continue a program to encourage removal of weapons from the streets, but instead of destroying the evidence, we will use the evidence to solve past crimes.

   10. Community youth centers should be open seven days per week for extended hours, should all be equipped with computer labs, recreational equipment, and be staffed by volunteer tutors and mentors who see the value in engaging our youth as a deterrent of future crime.

   11. Residency requirement. Police officers serving our community need to have a stake in the quality of life in the city. Therefore my administration will advocate strongly with the police union to require any new police officers to move to the city within six months of hiring. We will also provide monetary or tax incentives to existing officers who choose to move into the city. 

   12. Mayoral walk-along, ride-along with police officers on patrol in order for the mayor to be in touch with community concerns about crime and policing.

Live video & blog at 8 p.m.: Third mayoral debate & analysis afterward

Watch the third Buffalo mayoral debate beginning at 8 p.m. with Democratic incumbent Byron W. Brown, Democratic challenger Bernard A. Tolbert and Republican challenger Sergio R. Rodriguez.

The hourlong debate will be immediately followed by analysis from The News' Brian Meyer and debate panelist Bob McCarthy.

Tuesday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- Today's top read, from The Washington Post, takes an in-depth look at the human cost of a corporate shift toward maximizing shareholder value -- through the eyes of former IBM employees in Endicott, in Broome County.

Meanwhile, The New York Times notes that President Obama's high-level appointments still tilt toward men.

And Politico previews President Obama's speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Miner gets one statewide pol endorsement; awaiting the big one

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli today endorsed Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner for re-election in her September primary race.

DiNapoli, a Democrat whose office has been having some tussles of late with Cuomo administration agencies, called Miner the kind of leader needed in tough fiscal times "and a political environment that seems to favor confrontation over consensus building.''

Miner, whom Cuomo tapped in 2012 as co-chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, surprised Democrats and made statewide headlines earlier this year when she publicly condemned some fiscal ideas proposed by Cuomo. Indeed, she went further in her criticisms than even many Republican state lawmakers.

Richard Azzopardi, asked about Cuomo endorsing his co-chair of the party in her Syracuse race, said: "To date, we have not made any endorsements in any primaries statewide. As in past years, endorsements, if made, will be done at the appropriate time.'' The governor has not formally endorsed a candidate in mayoral races from Buffalo to New York City.

Cuomo: Are you anywhere near Harvard Square?

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- It's one of those basic little items state government reporters at least check everyday: the governor's schedule. On down days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office at least gives a general idea where he will be (such as "New York City area'').

Today, no such schedule, and Cuomo officials are not saying why.

It is, though, freshman move-in day at Harvard University, where the governor's daughter, Cara, is going to college. One of his other daughters, Mariah, is starting at Brown University (move-in day there is this weekend, so maybe we can expect more missing schedule information).

Last week, Cuomo said the time he wanted to spend with his daughters prevented him from accompanying President Obama on Obama's full trip across upstate to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Auburn and Binghamton (and Tully for you Central New York watchers). Cuomo made it to the first event with Obama at UB's Alumni Arena.





Brown, Tolbert on education

By Jill Terreri

Whether the  candidates were expecting it or not, the state of the city schools has become a major issue in the mayoral campaign. As the problems make headlines every day (a recap of those can be found on the School Zone blog) questions about what Mayor Byron Brown and Bernie Tolbert have planned when it comes to the schools have peppered both debates, and are expected to come up at tomorrow's debate

I sifted through interviews with the candidates and their past public statements, as well as information from their campaign web sites, and stories in our archive, to report today's story comparing Brown's and Tolbert's education plans. 

Continue reading "Brown, Tolbert on education" »

Monday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- I am back at my desk and back to reading the nation's news outlets in depth every morning, so my must-reads are back in business.

Topping today's list is a great story from Politico about how everyone is invoking the Rev. Martin Luther KIng Jr. to further their own political ends.

Next, The Washington Post reveals that Mexican drug cartels may not be as active in America as the government says.

And lastly, The Hill takes a look at President Obama's coming use of regulations to combat global warming.


Tolbert capitalizes on Obama's gaffe

By Jill Terreri

President Obama probably didn't think he would find himself in a campaign commercial for a candidate for mayor of Buffalo after he left town yesterday. But you might have heard that Obama mixed up Mayor Byron Brown and Rep. Brian Higgins during his appearance at the University at Buffalo, which Brown's opponent is happily reminding voters about.

(Brown took it in stride, and Higgins joked about it on Twitter:)

Continue reading "Tolbert capitalizes on Obama's gaffe" »

Of debates and polls

By Jill Terreri

A quick catch up on the mayoral election:

The Democratic primary is quickly approaching - less than three weeks away - and debates can be a good way to learn the differences between the candidates. That of course depends on several factors, including how completely the candidates answer each question.

Mayor Byron Brown is seeking a third term. Democrat Bernie Tolbert, a former special agent in charge of the FBI in Buffalo, is running, as is Republican Sergio Rodriguez, a Marine veteran. Rodriguez is also staging a write-in campaign for the Conservative line during the Sept. 10 primary. 

Continue reading "Of debates and polls" »

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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 |