Categories for Investigations

Sep 2

2022

Inside Amazon’s massive subsidy in Niagara

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Robert Taylor, a lifelong Niagara County resident, is thinking about moving south. Probably Florida. But Taylor isn’t chasing the warm weather and low property taxes that have drawn tens of thousands of other Northerners to the South. Rather, he’s running away from something.  Amazon.  The online retail giant plans to open a 3-million-square-foot warehouse less than a mile from his Packard Road home in the Town of Niagara. Amazon plans to employ 1,000 people at the warehouse and hundreds of cars and trucks will travel to and from the facility daily. The warehouse will be a “first mile” distribution center[...]

Posted 3 months ago

May 11

2022

Yet another failing Niagara Falls project

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A lot of big ideas have been floated for revitalizing the City of Niagara Falls and most of them have ended the same way: in disappointment.  Residents are still waiting for Niagara Falls Redevelopment — a company owned by New York City real estate developer Howard Milstein — to do something with the 140 acres it acquired downtown as part of a 1997 Master Redevelopment Agreement with the city.  The most-recent effort to renovate and reopen the Hotel Niagara, an iconic 1920s-era building on Rainbow Boulevard that has been vacant for more than a decade, stalled last year amid financing[...]

Posted 7 months ago

Apr 27

2022

School violence not limited to McKinley

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District officials have taken steps to address violence in Buffalo schools since a February  shooting and stabbing at McKinley High School left a student hospitalized. Violence in and around schools isn’t limited to fights between students. There have been reports in the news of students attacking their teachers and administrators. Parents have been involved, too, administrators told Investigative Post, attacking school staff, including security guards.   An Investigative Post analysis of four years of 911 data found calls to Buffalo school locations have increased by nearly 20 percent since the 2018-19 school year, the last full year before the pandemic.[...]

Posted 7 months ago

Apr 19

2022

The Roswell-Russia connection

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For more than a decade, Roswell Park Cancer Institute has been doing business with a leading Russian oligarch with long-standing ties to Vladimir Putin. The annual reports of the charitable foundation that raises money for Roswell tell part of the story: The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been a leading individual donor to the foundation, giving in excess of $1 million in four of the past five years. But Abramovich’s charity isn’t the problem.  Rather, at issue are Roswell’s relationships with for-profit companies whose investors include Abramovich and a Russian business partner, both sanctioned since the outbreak of the war[...]

Posted 8 months ago

Mar 23

2022

Ex-con councilman turned pot lobbyist

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A decade ago, former Ellicott District Common Council Member Brian C. Davis pled guilty to stealing $48,237 in anti-poverty funds from the city. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay restitution.   Davis served his time. But he hasn’t finished paying back what he stole, according to a March 2021 court filing. Happily, at least for the taxpayers he still owes, Davis has a new gig that might help him settle the bill: as a lobbyist for a proposed South Buffalo marijuana farm run by the southern California-based son of a politically wired[...]

Posted 9 months ago

Mar 22

2022

Lucrative no-bid deal for Brown donor

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For the last three years, Buffalo’s comptroller has been asking Mayor Byron Brown’s administration to justify a $1 million, no-bid contract awarded to developer William Huntress.  Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams’s office has twice audited the current lease for the city’s records storage facility, given to Huntress’s Acquest Development in 2018.  Both times, according to the comptroller, the Brown administration has failed to document its decision to forgo legally required competitive bidding procedures. “Documentation of the transaction should be sufficient to assure compliance with the applicable laws and policies, which require the best value is chosen,” the comptroller reported in its first[...]

Posted 9 months ago

Feb 20

2022

‘Completely stupid’ burning of toxins

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A Niagara Falls waste incineration plant burned almost 13 tons of firefighting foam over a three-year period, potentially releasing into the air and water insidious toxins linked in studies to infertility, birth defects, developmental disorders, compromised immune systems and cancer.  When questioned by state officials, Covanta Niagara at first denied it. Eventually, the company admitted burning “a small amount” of the material — aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF — but claimed it didn’t know what it was burning. “That is not a small amount,” said David Bond, a Bennington College professor who fought to stop a waste incinerator doing the[...]

Posted 10 months ago

Jan 10

2022

Buffalo schools struggle to catch up

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 Most students attending Buffalo public schools had fallen behind academically before the pandemic struck. Only a quarter of elementary and middle school students received proficient scores on their state standardized tests for reading, writing and math.  The learning gap got worse when instruction went remote in March 2020 and continued through most of last school year, when only one-third of students attended class regularly. Yet, the district only held back 546 of its 29,918 students for the school year that started in September. Most of them were high schoolers. Only 43 pupils in the elementary grades were held back.[...]

Posted 11 months ago