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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.

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Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

It appears that the Common Council has settled on a chief of staff. Majority Leader Demone Smith said that Rasheed Wyatt, who is a senior legislative assistant on the Council's central staff, will be selected to fill the vacant chief of staff position. 

Such an appointment requires five votes from the nine-member Council, and Wyatt appears to have the support he needs, Smith said. 

Smith is the leader of a six-member majority that includes Council President Richard Fontana of Lovejoy, University Council Member Bonnie Russell, Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen, South Council Member Christopher Scanlon, and North Council Member Joseph Golombek.

In October, Wyatt's promotion to his current position was confirmed by the Council without debate.

Wyatt would replace Kevin Linder, whose last day was Jan. 4. Deputy Chief of Staff Todd McAlister has been running the office since then. 

Also today, top officials from Brown administration will question Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak and his staff during a CitiStat meeting at 11 a.m. Public Works is a sweeping department whose work affects every city resident, from clearing streets of snow, paving, park maintenence and garbage collection. A live blog of the meeting will appear in a separate post on Politics Now

Earlier this morning, the Environmental Management Commission met on the ninth floor, where Chairman Joseph Gardella expressed frustration with the way the commission's input has not been sought on environmentally sensitive projects, such as the new South Buffalo Charter School

Lawyer Adam Walters, representing Niagara Metals, and West Hertel Association Chairperson Margaret Szczepaniec appeared at the meeting to express their concerns about a scrap metal recycling facility proposed for the corner of Hertel and Military. Ben Weitsman and Son of Buffalo would like to take over the former Auto City of Buffalo junkyard. The plan was delayed by the Planning Board yesterday, as the board told Weitsman representatives to do a further noise study. While some neighbors are concerned about the project, a few observers noted yesterday that Rocco Termini, who is investing $30 million nearby, did not voice any objections to the project at the Planning Board, where his project and the Weitsmans' project was on the agenda. The Common Council has also delayed action on the project. It appears no approvals will be granted until at least Jan. 29. 

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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.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


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.

tprecious@buffnews.com


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 | jterreri@buffnews.com


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 | jzremski@buffnews.com

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