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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.   

Brown headed to Gates Foundation event

By Jill Terreri

Mayor Byron Brown and other mayors from around the country are headed to Washington, D.C., today, for a meeting of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will focus on education.

Brown will travel with Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant, who is the administration's liasion to the school district, for the two-day event.

Brown was invited by the foundation to discuss "how can we greatly increase the achievement of students, particularly those who are disadvantaged," according to the invitation. 

The event includes a conversation with Bill Gates. It is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.   

"At the end of the day, we all know that it's not possible to have a great city without great schools," Brown said. 

Late last month, Brown talked about his exploration of mayoral control of city schools, though no formal steps have been made in that direction. The city provides tax revenue to the district but Brown and his administration have no control over its operations. 

The Buffalo Public School District has had its share of problems, including news this week that Martin Luther King School and Bennett High School will be closed or phased out and replaced because of poor performance. 

Rodriguez to talk economic development

By Jill Terreri

Republican mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez will be at the Hatch restaurant today to talk about his economic development platform. 

The Hatch was a key part of an audit from Comptroller Mark Schroeder, released yesterday. 

Rodriguez quickly pounced on the audit in a release yesterday, saying that the Erie Basin Marina operators have been "robbing the city blind" while Mayor Byron Brown has been accepting political donations from the operators. 

The Brown administration said it would hire new operators for the marina and restaurant for the 2014 season. 

Continue reading "Rodriguez to talk economic development" »

Tolbert, Rodriguez, keep up attacks on Brown

By Jill Terreri

Democrat Bernie Tolbert and Republican Sergio Rodriguez kept up their attacks on Mayor Byron Brown today, criticizing him on two of the major issues of this campaign, jobs and education. 

Tolbert noted the city's loss of population under Brown, and the unemployment rate, which he did at the debate last week at WNED. He also rolled out a four-point economic development plan, which is also posted below. 

Continue reading "Tolbert, Rodriguez, keep up attacks on Brown" »

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" »

Brown's opponents hear a political tune

By Jill Terreri

The timing of Mayor Byron Brown's announcement that the city will spend $400,000 to fund band and orchestra programs that had been cut in 14 public schools raised a few eyebrows. He explained at his big announcement yesterday, complete with children playing instruments, that he had been at work on a solution for a month and a half. Whatever the reason, the announcement was made one month before the Democratic primary, where he will face former FBI Special Agent in Charge Bernie Tolbert.

Tolbert pointed out that on the subject of the school district, Brown frequently notes that he has no governance over it. 

Continue reading "Brown's opponents hear a political tune" »

State Ed mandate confuses Council

By Jill Terreri

Concerns about the cost, loss of instructional time and apparent duplication in services were aired when a panel of city lawmakers brought in Board of Education members and school Superintendent Pamela Brown to Council Chambers today to discuss the recent mandate from state Education Commissioner John King, that the district partner with Erie 1 BOCES to turn around two failing schools, East and Lafayette high schools.

During an Education Committee meeting, Chairman Demone Smith said he was confused why the state would mandate that students be given the opportunity to take BOCES classes if they desired, when the district already offers many of the same programs.

Continue reading "State Ed mandate confuses Council" »

The Read: Political chatter from elsewhere

Each Saturday on the Politics Now blog you'll find a list of stories that caught the eyes of The News' political reporters. Here's a sampling of what they were reading in recent weeks:

"Part-Time Required Hours For Some Full-Time Legislative Staffers," by Kenneth Lovett, the New York Daily News' Daily Politics blog. Calling it one of Albany's "dirty little secrets," Lovett writes that part-timers are raking in the dough while being left with time that can be used for campaign work and other jobs.

"Hillary Clinton would crush Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a presidential race," by Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked the day after this story if he had a reaction to the poll's findings, he had a rather simple response: "No.''

"Senate passes ed pork to Republican districts," by Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union's Capitol Confidential. It's supposed to be the age of no budget pork. But what do you call aid that gets doled out only to partisan districts? Vielkind reports that Republicans in the State Senate pushed through $9.95 million in aid to schools in Republican districts this week, drawing complaints from their Democratic colleagues. Apparently, it's all within the rules.

"Andrew Cuomo vs. Hillary Clinton in 2016?'' by Maggie Haberman, Politco. It's going to be a long five years if this keeps up. Haberman writes Clinton, like Cuomo, is doing her own version of a 2016 White House dance.

“Twitter becomes a key real-time tool for campaigns,” by Karen Tumulty, Washington Post. This piece explores the use of Twitter through examples from both sides of the aisle in Washington, “showing how Twitter is redefining the means by which politicians shape, distribute and refine their messages.” Tumulty writes, “The six-year-old microblogging site came into its own this presidential cycle, but the past few weeks have demonstrated how clearly it has become the tool of choice for getting something into the political bloodstream …”

The Read: What they're saying about WNY

From Kathy Hochul to Carl Paladino, and from hydrofracking to school aid, people and policies tied to Western New York made news elsewhere this week. Here's a roundup of some political headlines from outside the area.

Politico was one of many national outlets that picked up on the story of Rep. Kathy Hochul and her comments about her rationale for supporting President Obama's contraception mandate. (Our Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski tackled it here.) "Freshman New York Rep. Kathy Hochul is getting a taste of the feverish town hall angst that boiled up and over in 2010," writes Politico's David Catanese -- Hochul feels wrath of the town hall, Feb. 28

Carl Paladino's run for governor was a teachable moment, at least in one way, for Republicans in Onondaga County, according to Capital Tonight. County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey said he is looking for a greater share of the weighted vote at the state Republican convention. “The next time we run a gubernatorial candidate against the Democrats, we’re going to run somebody from Onondaga County,” Liz Benjamin quotes Dadey as saying. “A lot of people voted for Carl Paladino -– all walks of life -– on the Republican line -– and Erie County is the largest county.”-- Erie County Envy, Feb. 28

The New York Daily News' Daily Politics blog notes that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his support for hydraulic fracturing -- but only in certain places in the state. "Bloomberg gave it a thumbs up –- so long as it is not near the New York City watershed or any of the vital conduits that bring water into the five boroughs," writes Glenn Bain. -- Mayor Bloomberg Supports Fracking Outside NYC Watershed, Feb. 29

Rochester officials want a boost in school aid from the state, bringing what the city receives more into line with what other places -- like Buffalo -- get. They've formed a new group called Building a Better Rochester to help their push. -- Mayor Richards, other Rochester leaders seek state aid parity, March 1

Public meetings this week in the City of Buffalo

Each week, The Buffalo News publishes a community-by-community list of the local government meetings for the coming week. Here's what's coming up this week in the City of Buffalo:

--The Aloma D. Johnson Fruitbelt Community Charter School board of trustees will meet at 6 p.m. today in the school, 833 Michigan Ave.

--The Planning Board will meet at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in Room 901 in City Hall.

--The Council’s Civil Service Committee will meet at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers. The Council’s Finance Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

--The Council’s Community Development Committee will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

--The Council’s Legislation Committee will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

--The Buffalo Board of Education will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the boardroom, Room 801 of City Hall, to interview candidates for the at-large vacancy created by Christopher L. Jacobs’ resignation. The interviews are open to the public.

--The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 209 of City Hall.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN


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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 |