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Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

Today the Common Council will meet and is expected to approve a labor contract with Teamsters, who repair city water lines. The caulkers are in line for 2 percent raises, retroactive to 2007. Lawmakers are also expected to approve a $75,000 settlement with a retired police lieutenant who said she was discriminated against by the city. 

A measure that would revive the city's public art program, which requires that 1 percent of capital project spending goes toward public art, is expected to be adopted today. 

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Prodding Albany in the 60th Senate District race

Mike Amodeo, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Mark Grisanti in the 60th Senate district, is drawing attention this week to the status of a measure that would further boost the efforts of historic rehabilitators and preservationists across the state.

Amodeo has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, asking for quick action on a measure known as the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, or HRTC. The measure would lift the maximum dollar figure on the tax credit available to developers and rehabbers from $5 million to $12 million. The measure builds on legislation that was approved several years ago.

 Amodeo urged Skelos to send the measure – which was sponsored by Grisanti earlier this year – to the governor for a signature, arguing that it is holding up the creation of new jobs in Western New York.

 "I am imploring you on behalf of the residents of Buffalo and the 60th Senate District to advance this historic rehabilitation tax credit bill immediately,” stated Amodeo, a Hamburg attorney, in his letter, “so economic development can continue and prevailing wage jobs can be restored to Buffalo.”

A spokesman for Senate Republicans contradicted the notion that the GOP is in any way holding up the measure.

"Not only does Mike Amodeo oppose the Governor's property tax cap, but he has no understanding of how the legislative process actually works," the spokesman, Scott Reif, said in an email to The Buffalo News. "The Legislature works with the Governor's office to ensure that their counsel has adequate time to review each of the hundreds of bills that are passed every year, and they simply haven't requested this bill yet."

--- Charity Vogel


37 arts and culturals to be added to county budget

There's been plenty of talk of Shakespeare in the chambers of the Erie County Legislature lately.

On Tuesday, the Legislature expects to put money behind all that talk.

A bipartisan budget deal that came together Friday would give $931,841 to dozens of theaters, galleries and other cultural organizations shut out of the Erie County budget last year.

That's $45,000 more than what the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance requested last month when it asked county lawmakers to return to funding amounts allocated in the Legislature's adopted 2010 budget.

Legislators added three organizations -- the Colored Musicians Club, Langston Hughes Institute and the Michigan Street Preservation Corp./ Nash house -- to the list.

Here's the breakdown of what the county's Finance, Management and Budget committee approved on Friday:

  • African American Cultural Center $132,411.00
  • Alleyway Theatre $7,016.00
  • American Legion Band of Tonawandas $4,677.00
  • Ballet Artists of WNY (Neglia) $10,523.00
  • Big Orbit Gallery $17,142.00
  • Buffalo Arts Studio $30,000.00
  • Buffalo City Ballet $13,096.00
  • Buffalo Naval & Servicemans Park $20,000.00
  • Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus $25,000.00
  • CEPA $47,140.00
  • Colored Musicians Club $15,000.00
  • Community Music School of Buffalo $2,432.00
  • El Museo Gallery $6,548.00
  • Explore & More $23,808.00
  • Folkloric Dance $1,871.00
  • Hallwalls $51,426.00
  • Irish Classical Theatre $73,710.00
  • Just Buffalo $51,426.00
  • Kavinoky Theatre $10,523.00
  • Lancaster Opera House $11,225.00
  • Langston Hughes Institute $15,000.00
  • Locust St Neighborhood Art Classes $10,523.00
  • Michigan Street Preservation Corp/Nash House $15,000.00
  • Music Is Art $45,000.00
  • Musicalfare Theatre $33,332.00
  • New Phoenix Theatre $25,000.00
  • Pierce Arrow Museum $4,677.00
  • Polish Arts Club of Buffalo Inc $8,000.00
  • Road Less Traveled Productions $4,750.00
  • Roycroft Campus Corporation $9,677.00
  • Shakespeare In the Park $85,710.00
  • Springville Center for the Arts $14,031.00
  • Squeaky Wheel $13,714.00
  • Theatre of Youth $51,695.00
  • Ujima Company $30,000.00
  • Western New York Artists Group $3,742.00
  • Young Audiences of WNY $7,016.00

The full Legislature will vote on the proposal Tuesday. It will then go back to County Executive Chris Collins, who could veto the measure. Legislators on Friday said they did not anticipate a veto.

View all of the Legislature's proposed budget amendments on the table here.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Legislators want time to examine polar bear proposal

The polar bears are heading for committee -- or at least a debate over whether Erie County should contribute a third of the $18 million price tag of a project to build a new habitat for the Buffalo Zoo's bears.

Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams sent the $6 million funding request to the Legislature's Community Enrichment Committee this morning after several legislators said they wanted time to examine the proposal.

County Executive Chris Collins on Tuesday surprised legislators when he sent over a request to use left over funds in several lines in the 2011 budget for the zoo's capital project.

Zoo President Donna Fernandes reiterated her concern to legislators that the zoo is in danger of losing its polar bears if it does not make progress toward its goal to raise $18 million to upgrade the habitat that houses the polar bears to meet modern standards. The exhibit was first built in the 1890s, she said. 

Fernandes told legislators during a work session today that Collins told her to secure funding commitments from the City of Buffalo and from private foundations before he would move the proposal forward. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has proposed giving the project $535,000 from the city's capital budget next year. 

She said the zoo has commitments for just under $8 million so far for the project.

Some county legislators have called the timing of the zoo proposal "awkward" as they complete their review of a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than 300 county jobs.

--Denise Jewell Gee


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 |