Articles for Layne Dowdall

Jul 25

2022

Buffalo is slowly losing its trees

 Buffalo is cutting down twice as many trees as it’s planting. And residents are noticing the loss. “It’s nothing like when I was a child,” said Catherine Faust, a Highland Avenue resident in the city’s Elmwood Village.  From 2016 through 2020, the city cut down more than 4,300 trees. They only planted about 1,900 new ones.  An Investigative Post analysis found the rate of tree loss is greater in parts of the East Side. Masten District, for example, lost four times as many trees as were planted. “It is one of the most despicable things that I can imagine[...]

Posted 4 months ago

Jun 15

2022

Hochul’s lack of due diligence on expressway

Gov. Kathy Hochul has committed $1 billion to cover a portion of the Kensington Expressway without benefit of any studies to assess the project’s updated cost or impact on the environment and health of East Side residents. Meanwhile, the state governor’s office and Department of Transportation are slow-walking Freedom of Information requests from Investigative Post seeking documents related to the project.  The state FOI law generally requires agencies to provide records within 20 business days of receiving a request. Twenty-six business days have passed since Investigative Post filed its requests. The DOT has said it intends to take up to[...]

Posted 6 months ago

Jun 8

2022

Barton retires as principal following settlement

Crystal Barton has retired from Buffalo schools, less than a month after the Board of Education approved a settlement ending their long and costly efforts to fire the veteran administrator.  Barton was on administrative leave for nearly five years before the settlement was approved on April 4, permitting her to return to her job as principal. As part of the deal, Barton was granted $200,000 for overtime and other compensation she might have earned if not suspended, in addition to nearly $645,000 in salary she was paid while on suspension.  Her retirement on April 22 was quietly approved at a[...]

Posted 6 months ago

May 31

2022

Buffalo superintendent’s mixed track record

Tonja Williams has some things going for her as she seeks the permanent appointment as superintendent of Buffalo public schools. They start with her people skills. Williams, who has been interim superintendent since Kriner Cash resigned in March, is a good listener and a realist in telling people what she can deliver. She’s familiar with the city and district, having lived in the Buffalo area her whole life and worked in city schools for 32 years.  “She seems to listen to all sides of an issue and doesn’t seem to get drawn into any personal conflict, any ulterior agendas that[...]

Posted 6 months ago

May 23

2022

Easing the path to graduation

The New York State Education Department has lowered the academic bar for graduating students again this year.  Last week, the Board of Regents approved a temporary policy that broadens the scope in which students are able to appeal and graduate despite failing scores on required Regents exams.  This is the third consecutive year the Board has made changes involving Regents exam requirements for graduation, citing the ongoing impacts and “varied teaching and learning conditions” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, students were required to earn a score of 65 or higher on at least four Regents exams in[...]

Posted 6 months ago

May 22

2022

Scenes from a tragedy

Last Friday, Layne Dowdall, camera in hand, visited the neighborhood around the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue that was the scene of the horrific shooting of 10 people by a white supremacist on May 14. She captured scenes of a community grieving and coping, and the landscape of the neighborhood which is anchored by the  supermarket. Memorials honor the victims: Volunteers hand out food and supplies: Community shows support: Undeveloped lots surround the Tops Market:

Posted 6 months ago

May 19

2022

Radical right makes school board inroads

Eleven newly elected school board candidates in Erie and Niagara counties are only two degrees of separation away from Western New York’s radical right. That is to say, they were endorsed by Western New York Students First, which portrays itself as a non-partisan organization but has extensive ties to some of the area’s most radical figures and groups. For example, David DiPietro, considered one of the state Assembly’s most right-leaning members, hosted a fundraiser for them in September; security was provided by the New York Watchmen, a quasi-militia. WNY Students First teamed with the Constitutional Coalition of Western New York,[...]

Posted 6 months ago

May 10

2022

Q&A: Explaining cryptocurrency & blockchain

Dr. Bina Ramamurthy is director of the Blockchain ThinkLab at the University at Buffalo. She’s also a crypto miner herself. That puts her at the forefront of the industry, which poses a challenge to traditional currency and has raised environmental concerns because of its demand for energy. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are mysteries to many people, so to understand the interview, let’s define what we’re talking about. Blockchain, introduced in 2011, involves computers and servers programmed to solve complicated mathematical problems on an ongoing, virtual ledger. This work is managed by so-called “crypto miners,” who earn cryptocurrency – most commonly Bitcoin[...]

Posted 7 months ago