Tag: City Hall

Oct 25

2022

City holding millions in other people’s money

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The City of Buffalo took in $4.3 million from its annual auction of tax-delinquent properties in 2019, the year the Brown administration changed how it handles the money those foreclosure sales generate. Out of that $4.3 million, the city paid itself $700,000 to account for the back taxes and fees that led the properties to the auction block.  That left $3.6 million is surplus, much of which rightfully belongs to the individuals who lost their properties to foreclosure. For them, the money represents their remaining equity after all their creditors — the city, the banks, the utility companies — are[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Oct 20

2022

A city Buffalo can learn from

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Buffalo and Durham, North Carolina, are similar in some key ways. They both have about a quarter of a million residents. About four in 10 are Black. They also share a problem — a lack of trees in Black neighborhoods.  But Durham’s response — to develop a comprehensive tree planting plan — contrasts with Buffalo, which is cutting down as many as four trees for every tree it plants in East Side neighborhoods. The result: Durham is planting more than 1,500 trees a year, compared with about 300 in Buffalo. In fact, Durham planted more trees last year than Buffalo[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Oct 19

2022

Federal dollars could help re-tree East Side

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The City of Buffalo spends a lot of money — $568 million this budget year.  Most of it is spent on cops and firefighters. Very little is spent on planting and maintaining trees, which play an important role in the health of city residents. In fact, the city’s population of trees is shrinking, as two trees are cut down for every one that is planted. Help could be on the way, however.  The federal government has earmarked $1.5 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act to pay for the planting and maintenance of trees in urban centers. The money will be[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Oct 18

2022

Activists sue Buffalo over Council redistricting

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Buffalo’s Common Council members might have thought this summer’s contentious redistricting was behind it. If so, they were wrong. This afternoon 11 Buffalo voters and good-government organizations filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court, asking a judge to reject a redistricting plan adopted by the city’s Council in July and signed by Mayor Byron Brown in August. The city’s redistricting process, led by the Council, “failed to meet the basic requirements of the law,” the Article 78 complaint contends. Those failures deprived city residents of meaningful opportunities to take part in the process, according to the complaint.    The plaintiffs[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Sep 28

2022

Raises (but no reforms) for Buffalo police

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Buffalo police just got a raise. The city got nothing — no concessions, no reforms — in exchange. That’s the upshot of more than three years of negotiations between the Brown administration and the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, whose contract expired in July 2019. When talks stalled in early 2021, the dispute put in the hands of a state arbitrator, who was empowered only to deal with pay.  Reform — the mantra of demonstrators and elected officials alike in the summer of 2020 — was sidelined. On July 19, a state arbitration panel awarded Buffalo police raises and retroactive pay worth[...]

Posted 4 months ago

Sep 8

2022

Belatedly, City Hall has an ethics board

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 The city’s ethics board has been resurrected from the dead. Investigative Post reported last month that the ethics board hadn’t met in two and half years because the mayor and Common Council had failed to appoint enough board members to comprise a quorum. Last week, Mayor Byron Brown submitted five nominees for the ethics board to the Common Council for approval. All five were approved Tuesday without debate or discussion, bringing the ethics board to its charter-prescribed membership of seven.  Before Tuesday, it had just three members — one short of a quorum. The five newly appointed members are: John[...]

Posted 5 months ago

Aug 8

2022

City ethics board out of business

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Last September, 140 people signed a formal complaint filed with Buffalo’s Board of Ethics. The complaint alleged city workers, including police officers, were campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown on city time, using city resources. Almost a year later, there has been no response — not even an acknowledgement the complaint was received.  Little wonder, as it turns out: The ethics board hasn’t met in two and half years. According to the Office of the City Clerk, the ethics board — charged with monitoring compliance with the city’s code of ethics — hasn’t met since Covid struck, “due to lack of[...]

Posted 6 months ago

Jul 31

2022

Feds investigate City Hall (again)

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 Federal investigators are looking into allegations that City of Buffalo employees, including police officers, broke federal law last year while campaigning for Mayor Byron Brown. Investigative Post acquired two emails last week concerning the investigation.  The first, dated June 12 of this year, is a formal complaint to the U.S Office of Special Counsel, alleging “officers of the Buffalo Police Department … appear to have engaged in political activity while on duty or while represented as police officers.”  The second, dated July 11, is an email from a law clerk at the Office of Special Counsel to the author of[...]

Posted 6 months ago