Scajaquada story voted best of 2014

Reporting, analysis and commentary
by Jim Heaney, editor of Investigative Post

Our readers have spoken – Dan Telvock’s coverage of sewage-clogged Scajaquada Creek was the best work produced by Investigative Post in 2014.

Thirty-six percent of the 92 readers who cast a vote in our online poll that closed at midnight selected “The Scajaquada is a crippled creek,” which also aired on WGRZ and published in Artvoice.

It was the first of nine stories Telvock did on the creek, into which Buffalo and Cheektowaga dump 500 million gallons of sewage and stormwater runoff annually. As a result, sludge up to five feet deep lines some sections of the creek and the water is contaminated with fecal bacteria and avian botulism.

Telvock’s reporting initially triggered revulsion by two state senators and has since promoted officials to act. Cheektowaga has come up with the plan to stem the flow of sewage and runoff along its portion of the creek and state officials have pledged to help identify funding to pay for the work. Buffalo, meanwhile, is proceeding on several fronts to prevent raw sewage from getting into the creek.

Several other stories received significant support from voters.

A story by Charlotte Keith on $57 million in public subsidies granted to HarborCenter received 24 percent of the vote. A piece by Jim Heaney on efforts by officials to suppress documents on how the state is spending the Buffalo Billion received 11 percent of the vote. TV versions of both stories aired on WGRZ.

Here are the final results.

Which was your favorite story of 2014?

  • Scajaquada is a crippled creek (36%, 33 Votes)
  • Sabres subsidies for HarborCenter (24%, 22 Votes)
  • State stonewalling on Buffalo Billion spending (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Carl Paladino is a RINO (8%, 7 Votes)
  • State overpaid for Peace Bridge property (7%, 6 Votes)
  • SolarCity’s shaky foundation (7%, 6 Votes)
  • Erie County’s lackluster Legislature (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Buffalo is ground zero for lead poisoning (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Subpar recycling in city, suburbs (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Concrete crushing business produces Dust Bowl (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 92

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This marks the second time Investigative Post asked readers to vote for their top story. Last year they selected  Telvock’s investigation into state plans to open Gallagher Beach for swimming despite its proximity to two Superfund sites and other environmental concerns. The state has since stepped back from those plans, opting instead to test the water and soils for possible contamination.