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Feb 2

2023

A step forward for Investigative Post

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Stephanie Lawson has joined Investigative Post as chief development officer. In this role, she will increase community engagement and grow our base of supporters.  Lawson previously spent six years with Habitat for Humanity Buffalo, where she oversaw fundraising, communications, advocacy, outreach, and the ReStore, a retail outlet. She helped develop signature campaigns, including Women Build Week, Leaders Build, and The House Beer Built. Lawson led state- and nationwide trainings and mentored other development and communications professionals. In 2021, she was recognized as Habitat for Humanity Employee of the Year. Lawson previously worked for seven years with the Food Bank of[...]

Posted 1 day ago

Feb 2

2023

Lawsuit: Aggressive ticketing of Black drivers

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Between 2012 and 2020, one Buffalo police officer, Kelvin Sharpe, wrote nearly 12,000 traffic tickets.  More than two-thirds of those Sharpe ticketed were Black, according to data gathered from Erie County and the City of Buffalo and analyzed by attorneys for the plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Another Buffalo cop, 14-year veteran Michael Acquino, wrote nearly 2,500 tickets for tinted windows in that same time period, 2012-2020.  About 85 percent of the recipients were Black. A third officer, Richard Hy, issued, on average, at least one more ticket per stop to minority drivers compared to white drivers over[...]

Posted 2 days ago

Jan 31

2023

Government meetings are secret – and legal

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State law mandates that local legislative bodies conduct their business in public. But a loophole allows elected officials to caucus in private, and a new report finds that many legislative bodies do. The Erie County Legislature is among those that not only caucus, but discuss public matters, according to a new study released by the New York Coalition for Open Government.  These “secret meetings” held behind closed doors throughout the state’s local governments “completely gut” the Open Meetings Law, leaving the public in the dark, according to the report.  “The public meeting becomes just a show or just a sham.[...]

Posted 3 days ago

Jan 31

2023

Heaney discusses Tesla on ‘Pressroom

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Jim Heaney spoke this week with David Lombardo on The Capital Pressroom about Investigative Post’s recent reporting on the Tesla plant in South Buffalo and tax subsidies issued to fast-food restaurants in Niagara Falls. Both stories were reported by J. Dale Shoemaker. The Tesla story documented the failure of that $1 billion project to live up to its potential. Dale’s IDA reporting has prompted legislation intended to address what critics say is an abuse of the IDA law. Capitol Pressroom is broadcast weekdays on about 20 NPR stations across upstate. It airs on WBFO at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and[...]

Posted 3 days ago

Jan 29

2023

Monday Morning Read

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You can read Jim Heaney’s recommended reading on Monday morning. Or Sunday morning, along with a wrap-up of Investigative Post’s reporting of the previous week, if you subscribe to WeeklyPost. Common Council President Darius Pridgen is not seeking re-election next year. In my dealing with Pridgen over the years I found him to be smart, charismatic and street savvy. Unfortunately, the Council under his leadership has been a rubber stamp for Byron Brown. His approach has been to go-along to get-along with the mayor. The city needs an independent and vigilant Council. Brown gathered people Friday to express their horror over the beating[...]

Posted 5 days ago

Jan 27

2023

Cops suing department speak out

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In November, two Black Buffalo police officers and a mental health clinician sued the department and their commanding officer for creating a “hostile” and “discriminatory” work environment. Now the police department is insisting the officers return to work, while the captain they accused of unleashing a racist rant in the workplace is being paid to stay at home. The two officers — six-year veteran Katelynn Bolden and 15-year veteran Brandon Hawkins —  told Investigative Post in an exclusive interview that they’re not ready to come back.  They want assurances the department will protect them and create “a safe space” for other[...]

Posted 1 week ago

Jan 27

2023

Bills target alleged abuses by IDAs

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State lawmakers plan to introduce legislation this spring that would close a loophole that allows industrial development agencies to grant tax breaks to restaurants and other retail businesses — thanks in part to what they perceive as abuses in Niagara County. The state banned tax breaks for retail projects, including restaurants, a decade ago. But they left in exceptions for tourism projects and retail establishments in so-called “distressed areas” with high poverty and high unemployment. The new proposed legislation is sponsored by Sen. Sean Ryan, the newly-appointed chairman of the Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business Committee, and Assemblyman Jonathan[...]

Posted 1 week ago

Jan 26

2023

‘Weak’ relocation clause in Bills’ lease

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The Buffalo Bills would have an easier time abandoning their new stadium in Orchard Park for another city than any of the other teams playing in subsidized stadiums built for NFL franchises in recent years, Investigative Post has found. Four NFL stadiums have been built with public assistance since 2014: Levi’s Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, U.S. Bank Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, and Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders. Like the Bills draft lease, those agreements require teams in those stadiums to pay back the taxpayer’s investment in the event they[...]

Posted 1 week ago