Categories for In-Depth

Dec 12

2023

City worker in paid leave limbo

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Two years ago, a dispatcher in the city’s water department complained to his supervisors about work conditions at the pumping station on Porter Avenue. His computer didn’t work properly, often compelling him to do the same data-entry work twice, Rashimee Wilson wrote in an email to his bosses, including then Public Works Commissioner Mike Finn.  Worse, he wrote, he wasn’t allowed to leave his post for meal breaks, not even when he was asked to work two eight-hour shifts in a row.  Further, Wilson claimed, the department’s seniority system granted privileges and accommodations to white employees that were denied to[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Nov 29

2023

North Collins supervisor holds out-of-town job

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John Tobia, the supervisor of the Town of North Collins, recently started a new job. In a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Since October, Tobia has commuted between Boston and his small town of about 1,300, located about 25 miles south of Buffalo. He took the job a month before being re-elected, unopposed, to his third term as supervisor.  As vice president of regional operations for The Norfolk Companies, Tobia’s gone from North Collins anywhere from two to five days per week, he and the town attorney have said. That’s led some to worry that he’s away from the town too[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Nov 26

2023

Punishment not befitting the crime

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In the wee hours last January, prosecutors say, Jones Woods threw a rock through a window at the U.S. Attorney’s office in downtown Buffalo. No one came. Woods left after 15 minutes, authorities say. Police found him later that day at the downtown bus station on Ellicott Street. After being arrested and charged with criminal mischief, he appeared in City Court the next day and was sent on his way. Ten minutes later, he threw another rock through a window at the U.S. Attorney’s office.  “I knew if I came back here, I would go to federal prison,” he told[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Nov 20

2023

License plate readers target minority neighborhoods

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Buffalo police have quietly installed license plate readers at 41 intersections in the city, two-thirds of them located in neighborhoods populated predominantly with people of color.  Buffalo police, in response to a Freedom of Information Law request for the department’s policies on license plate readers, wrote that they’re used for “law enforcement investigative purposes only.” While it’s unclear how the department now is using readers, police in the past used mobile readers to issue traffic tickets, at considerable profit to the city.  Unlike many other cities, neither the police nor Mayor Byron Brown, their commander in chief, have made the[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Nov 17

2023

Neglected building threatens Theater District hostel

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The city’s only hostel, which hosts some 6,000 travelers a year in the Theater District, is facing the prospect of eviction because an adjacent city-owned building is in danger of collapse after years of neglect. Recent inspections by the city and an engineering consultant found the vacant, rear section of the hostel building has deteriorated to the point that it could jeopardize the structural integrity of the hostel. The rear building, which faces Washington Street, is separate but attached to the hostel building at 667 Main St.  Hostel Buffalo-Niagara is across the street from Shea’s Performing Arts Center, two doors[...]

Posted 4 months ago

Nov 14

2023

Reading skills of Buffalo pupils rebounding, but still lag

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Reading test scores in Buffalo public schools dropped by nearly a third during the pandemic, with the youngest students being the hardest hit.  Two years later, there’s been significant, but not complete recovery. However, pupils who were in kindergarten and first grade when the district turned to virtual instruction are still struggling to make up for the learning that was lost, according to testing data. “It was catastrophic. It was horrible,” Nicole Herkey, a reading specialist at Southside Elementary, said of the pandemic’s effect on students’ reading ability.  “It was horrible on so many levels that people who were not[...]

Posted 4 months ago

Nov 13

2023

State still spending money on Tesla factory

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If you thought New York was done spending money on the Tesla’s factory in South Buffalo, think again. Documents obtained by Investigative Post under the Freedom of Information Law have revealed a $29 million fund that state officials have allowed Tesla to spend on various projects around the plant.  The state has so far allowed Tesla to spend $1.4 million of the fund. The money has been spent on a new boiler, a rotary screw air compressor and additional truck parking.  There’s another eight projects on the to-do list and $27.4 million available. Requested projects include a new cafeteria, an[...]

Posted 4 months ago

Nov 8

2023

Home ownership by Blacks in Buffalo has flatlined

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Despite a plethora of programs encouraging Blacks to purchase their own homes, the ownership rate for African-Americans in Buffalo has barely budged over the past four decades.  Where there has been growth lately, it’s come in the suburbs, according to Census data and federal mortgage loan reports. Concerns about redlining in the city persist, but Black incomes in Buffalo — pegged at about three-fifths that of whites — are largely blamed for the stagnation. “Overall, we can attribute the lower Black homeownership rate to the racial wealth gap,” said Buffalo State University associate professor Jason Knight, coordinator of the school’s[...]

Posted 4 months ago
Investigative Post

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