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Pridgen calls for mandatory parent assembly

By Jill Terreri

Council President Darius G. Pridgen is calling on the Board of Education to hold mandatory assemblies at the beginning of the school year in each school for parents or guardians. 

The assembly will help prepare parents for what the year holds, he said, adding that while some parents are involved, it's "criminal" what some parents are not doing for their children. 

The Council adopted the measure unanimously on Tuesday.

Pridgen, a former school board member, is recommending that the assembly cover the district's:

  • Parent involvement policy
  • Parent engagement strategy
  • Code of conduct
  • Parent Portal

Other topics include Common Core standards, and meeting with teachers.

The resolution was sent to Superintendent Pamela Brown and Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold.   

Today in City Hall: Marina contract

By Jill Terreri

The Erie Basin Marina will likely have a new operator in place by the end of the Common Council's meeting today. 

The Council appears poised to approve a five-year contract with Smith Boys to run the marina, as well as rate increases for slipholders effective in 2015. (The mayor has to sign the contract, but it was his administration that recommended Smith Boys.) Rates have not increased since 2002. The average annual rate increase over the term of the proposed agreement is 8 percent for city residents and 16 percent for non-residents. The agreement, from 2014-18, shows that the city won't see any rent from Smith Boys until 2016, when the rent is 10 percent of any net profit over $80,000. The same figure is due the city in 2017. In 2018, the rent increases to 20 percent of any net profit over $80,000.

Continue reading "Today in City Hall: Marina contract" »

Wyatt gets committee chairmanship

By Jill Terreri

The Common Council's newest member, Rasheed Wyatt, has been appointed chairman of the Civil Service Committee, one of four committees that meet every other week.

Committee assignments are made by the Council president, Darius Pridgen, and the Council does not vote on them.  

Wyatt was appointed by the Council on Jan. 28 to fill a vacancy in the University District, and on Tuesday, the Council approved a new roster of committee appointments. 

Putting a new Council member into a committee chairmanship - which comes with a stipend - isn't new for this Council. When South Council Member Chris Scanlon was appointed in 2012, he was immediately made Finance Committee chairman. He has since ascended to lead what is arguably the Council's most important committee, Legislation. 

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Eight seek University District seat

By Jill Terreri

The resumes for a vacant seat on the Buffalo Common Council have arrived in the city clerk's office, and they include the Council's chief of staff, a union representative at Goodyear/Dunlop Tire Corp., a longtime city employee and a video surveillance monitor for the Buffalo Police Department. 

The clerk's office has received eight resumes for a vacancy in the University District as of the end of the day today. 

Continue reading "Eight seek University District seat" »

Today in City Hall: Pridgen's day

By Jill Terreri

A crowd of about 300 people is expected in Council Chambers today at 2 p.m., when Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen is elected Council president by his fellow city lawmakers. 

Pridgen, who surprised some in City Hall by his effort to quickly line up the support of all of his colleagues, is so confident that he will be elected Council president that his staff has already moved into the president's office on the 13th floor, and Lovejoy Council Member Rich Fontana has moved out. 

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Schroeder on Council changes: It's a 'good thing'

Comptrollers 12.30.13

Former City Comptrollers Anthony Nanula, Joel Giambra, Andrew SanFlippo and Comptroller Mark Schroeder this morning in a Hall of Comptrollers ceremony. New portraits of Nanula, Giambra and SanFlippo were unveiled. 

By Jill Terreri

Comptroller Mark Schroeder, who watches city finances from his 12th-floor offices and is a former member of the state Assembly, is thought to have ambitions to one day run for higher office.  

I asked him about the changes on the 13th floor, specifically the impending election of Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen to the Council presidency. Pridgen, if elected on Thursday by a majority of his Council peers, would assume the executive suite on the second floor if Mayor Byron W. Brown decides to leave office in the next two years (the term length for Council presidents.) As Council president, Pridgen would be in a very good position to run for mayor if Brown leaves office early , or even if he does not.

Schroeder said the change at the top of the Council was good, and that an opportunity to transition the job every two years is called for in the city charter. 

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UPDATED: Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning.

UPDATE: This morning, the city Planning Board met, and issued an approval for Uniland's project at the Delaware Court building at 250 Delaware Ave. 

The company is planning a 12-story tower for office space and a hotel, and a five-level parking garage in the back, on the Elmwood Avenue side. 

Uniland already has approval from the Preservation Board to tear down the existing building and build on the site, and will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for approval, which it expects to get, based on the company's previous appearance before the board.

Pending other approvals, the company expects to begin construction Jan. 1, but Uniland Vice President Michael Montante said that could change. 

The board voted 5-0 to approve the project. 

Continue reading "UPDATED: Today in City Hall" »

Today in City Hall: Budget and Broderick Park

By Jill Terreri

The Common Council kicked off its budget workshops this morning in relatively brief meetings with some of the city's largest departments. 

The questions tended to deal with matters of concern to the Council, not necessarily what was in the budget. 

The Taxation and Assessment Department discussed the inquiries they were getting about the state's STAR program, which offers property tax breaks to homeowners. Basic STAR recipients must re-apply this year - senior STAR recipients re-apply every year. The city department doesn't administer the program, but it does send out the tax bills. Department officials said they worried that the state won't be able to tell them all of the properties that should be getting the exemption until June, and property tax bills must be mailed by July 1. 

Continue reading "Today in City Hall: Budget and Broderick Park" »

Trico landmark designation fails

By Jill Terreri

An effort to designate the Trico Complex a local landmark failed in the Common Council today in a 4-4 vote. 

Voting against the measure was Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen, whose district includes the building, and Council President Richard Fontana, Majority Leader Demone Smith and Council Member Chris Scanlon. 

Voting in favor of landmark status for Trico were Council Members David Franczyk, Joseph Golombek, David Rivera and Michael LoCurto. 

Council Member Bonnie Russell did not attend Tuesday's meeting. 

The Council requires five votes to approve any measure. The matter will not come up for another vote unless another landmark application is made. 

Pridgen said his vote was not based on the desires of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which owns development rights to the property and was against the landmark designation. But Pridgen said the campus should work with the preservation community to find a re-use of the building and should move swiftly to develop the property, though he believes some of the structure is too far gone to rehabilitate it. 

Council members who voted in favor of the designation said the city's own preservation law provides for landmark status for buildings that meet one out of nine criteria, and that the Trico building meets seven. 

Public comment is generally not permitted at Council meetings, and those in favor and against landmark status weighed in during two previous Council committee meetings. 

Today in City Hall: Council to vote on Trico

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

Today the Common Council will meet at 2 p.m. and will vote on whether a massive former windshield wiper factory at Washington and Goodell streets should be designated a local landmark. The decision could play a key role in determining whether the structure, which housed the Trico factory, is demolished or remains. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which holds exclusive development rights to the property, is against the landmark designation, saying it would inhibit what can be done on the property, while preservationists say it can be re-used. 

Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen - whose vote is key because he represents the area - yesterday did not say how he would vote on the designation. 

The Council will also pass a resolution calling on the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to grant development rights for the Outer Harbor to a group that is interested in building a 72,000-seat football stadium, museum, and convention center. The NFTA said it will not do that. 

Continue reading "Today in City Hall: Council to vote on Trico" »

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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 |