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Committee on Open Government Disputes UB Foundation Ruling

Five years after the Honorable Patrick H. NeMoyer, J.S.C. ruled that the UB Foundation is not a public body and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Law, the Committee on Open Government (COOG) has issued an advisory opinion disputing that decision. Artvoice covered the case on March 31, 2011, in a story that raised eyebrows all over New York State. Click here to read it.

On Thursday, February 18, responding to a request from Manhattan-based good government group Reinvent Albany, COOG concluded that the Court’s decision was “inconsistent with judicial precedent.”

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Here is the advisory opinion, with links to referenced documents:

We are in receipt of your inquiry regarding the application of the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to the University of Buffalo Foundation, Inc. (UB Foundation).

You include in your e-mail a copy of a response to a recent FOIL request to the UB Foundation, wherein the Foundation replied that “[b]ased on various decisions of the New York State courts, please be advised that the UB Foundation and its affiliates, including FNUB, Inc., are not subject to the FOIL.” The Committee respectfully disagrees with that conclusion.

While it is accurate that the Court in Quigley v. University at Buffalo Foundation, Supreme Court, Erie County, March 2, 2011, held that the UB Foundation is not an “agency” subject to FOIL, nor is it a “public body” subject to the Open Meetings Law, it is our opinion that this decision is inconsistent with prior judicial determinations regarding “foundations” chartered by the Regents of the State of New York created to support and promote the activities and programs of the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY).

The Committee has rendered several opinions relating to this matter which are available on our website (See FOIL Advisory Opinions, Letter “S,” scroll down to “SUNY or CUNY Foundation.” http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/foil_listing/fs.html

Perhaps most analogous to the situation described is a decision in which it was held that a community college foundation associated with a CUNY institution was subject to FOIL, despite its status as a not-for-profit corporation. In so holding, the Court in Eisenberg v. Goldstein, Supreme Court, Kings County, February 26, 1988 stated:

“At issue is whether the Kingsborough Community College Foundation, Inc. (hereinafter ‘Foundation’) comes within the definition of an ‘agency as defined in Public Officers Law §86(3) and whether the Foundation’s fund collection and expenditure records are ‘records’ within the meaning and contemplation of Public Officers Law §86(4).

The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that was formed to ‘promote interest in and support of the college in the local community and among students, faculty and alumni of the college’ (Respondent’s Verified Answer at paragraph 17). These purposes are further amplified in the statement of ‘principal objectives’ in the Foundation’s Certificate of Incorporation:

‘1 To promote and encourage among members of the local and college community and alumni or interest in and support of Kingsborough Community College and the various educational, cultural and social activities conducted by it and serve as a medium for encouraging fuller understanding of the aims and functions of the college.’

Furthermore, the Board of Trustees of the City University, by resolution, authorized the formation of the Foundation. The activities of the Foundation, enumerated in the Verified Petition at paragraph 11, amply demonstrate that the Foundation is providing services that are exclusively in the college’s interest and essentially in the name of the College. Indeed, the Foundation would not exist but for its relationship with the College.”

In another decision relating to SUNY foundations, Siani v. The Research Foundation of the State University of New York, Supreme Court, Albany County, March 26, 2007, the Court concluded that the SUNY Research Foundation is an agency required to comply with FOIL. Specifically, the Court found that:

“The powers and duties of the Research Foundation as found in its charter are to assist in developing and increasing facilities of the State University of New York by making and encouraging gifts, grants and donations of real and personal property, to receive, hold and administer gifts, grants and to finance studies and research of benefit to and in keeping with the educational purposes and objectives of the State University.”

“Given the functional relationship between the Research Foundation and the State University, the importance of the role played by the Research Foundation in the educational efforts of the State University and the power it has with respect to sponsored programs of the State University, the Research Foundation exercises a governmental function and is therefore, subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law.”

The Court in Hearst Corporation v. Research Foundation of the State of New York, Supreme Court, Albany County, September 17, 2010 followed the decision in Siani.

In a case involving SUNY and the Empire State College Foundation, Kelber v. University of the State of New York, Empire State College and Empire State College Foundation, Supreme Court, Albany County, April 14, 2010, after lengthy analysis, the Court directed Foundation to comply with FOIL and disclose records sought.

As in the case of the foundations in Siani and Eisenberg, the UB Foundation would not exist but for its relationship with SUNY Buffalo. Due to the similarity between the history (“chartered in 1962 by the Regents of the State of New York as a non-profit educational corporation in the same year in which the private University of Buffalo became part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.” http://www.ubfoundation.buffalo.edu/about) and mission (“to support and promote the activities and programs of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.”) of the UB Foundation and the foundations presented in Siani and Eisenberg, as well as the functions of the Foundation and its relationship to the University, I believe the Court’s decision in Quigley that the UB Foundation is not subject to FOIL is inconsistent with judicial precedent.

 


Steam Donkeys to Play Crew Fundraiser this Saturday

Filed under: Announcements, Events, Music

The Steam Donkeys—a Buffalo, NY-based musical act and global think tank—will be using their regular monthly gig at the Sportsmen’s Tavern this Saturday (2/20) as a platform to promote awareness and raise much needed funds for the City Honors Crew Team. The event is open to the public and will feature a 50/50 raffle and chances to win cool Buffalo Bills gear. The event runs from 9pm to midnight. Admission is only $3.

Steam-Donkeys-at-Pollywogg-holler-sepiaWhile some see incongruity in a honky tonk band/global think tank lending its support to a rowing team, Steam Donkeys front man Buck Quigley disagrees. He points out the fact that modern, competitive rowing dates back to 1829—the same year the Steam Donkeys were founded.

“There are many similarities between the crew members in a boat and the musicians in a band,” Quigley observes. “In both cases, people have to pull together to get anywhere. In a crew, if a rower gets out of sync it can result in what’s called an ‘ejection crab.’ In a band, one member can screw up the vibe so much that they wind up as objects of ridicule on YouTube.”

“City Honors is the only Buffalo Public School with a crew team, so they’re kind of de facto underdogs,” Quigley says. “And they compete against private and parochial schools in regattas all over New York State and Canada. These are dedicated athletes who wake up at 4:30am to practice year-round. People say that high school hockey is expensive, tough, and demanding. But when is the last time you saw a hockey team dealing with agitated Asian carp?”

Proceeds raised will go to defray costs associated with travel, lodging, event registrations, facility fees and other expenses.

In solidarity with these dedicated high school athletes who practice and compete on a near-constant basis, the Steam Donkeys will be doubling their typical number of live appearances for the month of February by performing Friday night’s (2/19) happy hour at Nietzsche’s, starting at 6pm.

Both shows will feature guest appearances by the fabulous Dee Love, whose occasional guest spots with the band have sent crowds into paroxysms of delight.

 


Tommy Chong on Bernie Sanders

Filed under: National Politics

Apropos of this week’s issue

 

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A Look at Our Neighbors of the Future

Last night, about 400 people attended a public forum at Kleinhans Music Hall to get a peek at four proposed plans to redevelop the area where the soon to be former Women & Children’s Hospital currently stands.

If you’d like to get a play-by-play of what went down, you can visit Buffalo Rising and The Buffalo News to get the gist and read the comments and so on.

It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. And writing like an architect is simply precious, as this video demonstrates.

Me, I’m more of a people-person. So I say let’s get to know some of the individuals who will be populating our streets in just a few short years—starting with these two millenials in the lower left hand corner of a Ciminelli rendering, chatting away on Elmwood…

(Click on the images for a better view.)

"He was all like 'I'm not ready to make that kind commitment' and I'm like 'splitting the check with me is not much of a commitment.'"

“He was all like ‘I’m not ready to make that kind commitment’ and I’m like ‘Splitting the check with me is not much of a commitment.'”

Your heart really goes out to her, because you know that her non-committal boyfriend is in fact the hipster fixie bicycle dude bro captured here, one-hour earlier, checking out a young woman walking her dogs at the very same intersection in a Uniland rendering…

"Awesome. If I could hook up with her, I could...like...walk her dogs and use them to meet more women."

“Awesome. If I could hook up with her, I could…like…walk her dogs and use them to meet more women.”

You want to tell her she deserves so much better, but you can’t because she exists in the future and you are forever separated by time. Luckily, it seems her friend has the patience of a saint, walking all over the Elmwood Village, listening to her vent about this douchebag…

"He says he wants to get a dog, and I'm like 'Why don't you get a job, first?'"

“He says he wants to get a dog, and I’m like ‘Why don’t you get a job, first?'”

Que sera, sera.

I’m also a little suspicious of this pack of hoodlums, always loitering around on Elmwood…

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And by the soccer field…

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They just seem so unwholesome next to the kids playing soccer and giving themselves high-fives for no apparent reason. I hope they eventually work out their issues and manage to stay out of prison and go on to lead somewhat normal lives. I could be over reacting. Teenagers will be teenagers.

What’s even more disconcerting than a few hoodlums may be the strange dystopia envisioned by Ellicott Development, where people do not interact with one another, and seem to walk alone at regularly spaced intervals under a darkening sky…

(Blaring from loudspeakers) WAR IS PEACE...FREEDOM IS SLAVERY...IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

(Blaring from loudspeakers) WAR IS PEACE…FREEDOM IS SLAVERY…IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Then there’s the plan that’ll turn Elmwood and Bryant into a hopping destination at dusk, complete with people hanging out on their balconies, bicyclists of all ages, jaywalking dog-walkers, a line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get into a restaurant, street musicians…

sinantra-elmwood-and-bryantThis vision of the future seems to be getting positive reviews, but I can tell you right now that it’s a pipe dream. There is absolutely no way that street musicians will be tolerated anywhere near popular restaurants in Buffalo. They’re barely tolerated anywhere now. I’m willing to bet that a banjo player picking “Orange Blossom Special” on the sidewalk near Rue Franklin might quickly find out that bluegrass and foie gras do not mix.

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And what’s with this poor musician who’s forced to sit on the curb, strumming a ukulele? That’s just pathetic.

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Read more about the secret lives of the tiny people in architectural renderings and how they’ve been used through the years to sell architectural plans to the public.

 

 

 


Steam Donkeys Host Winter Carnival Saturday

Mail AttachmentSpendthrifts, barflys, n’er-do-wells, and beautiful losers are unanimous in their praise for this Saturday’s Winter Carnival hosted by the Steam Donkeys at the Sportsmen’s Tavern. The event will include traditional snowball fights, a King of the Mountain contest on an icy snowbank, a donut-spinning challenge in the Tops parking lot with separate divisions for front and rear-wheel drive vehicles, and a freestyle pogeying competition with extra points awarded for dragging behind a cop car. Festivities begin at 9pm.

The event was conceived by the Steam Donkeys—a Buffalo-based music act and global think tank—who just wanted to put some old fashioned fun back into the winter season. 

“Renting a pair of ice skates and pretending you’re Hans Brinker on the faux canals at Canalside is all well and good,” says Steam Donkeys spokesperson and front man Buck Quigley. “But when I was growing up, winter activities were more spontaneous and challenging. It takes considerable skill to grab onto the bumper of a police cruiser, unnoticed, and maintain that aerodynamic tuck while sliding along on your boots. Couple that with the aerobic workout you’d get running through backyards and hopping fences when the cops discovered you—there’s nothing quite like it today.”

Local business leaders, wealthy philanthropists, elected officials and all of their appointed staffs voiced their strong opposition to the event.

“I don’t know where to begin,” said an influential mover and shaker, on condition of anonymity. “When you think of the massive amounts of public money that have gone into all the infrastructure at Canalside, not to mention the sweetheart deals that have been given out to connected vendors—you quickly realize the place is too big to fail. I don’t care if people are down there pedaling ice bikes through the slush. And I don’t care if they get frostbite weathering the freezing spray from the lake. They need to come and smile and talk about Buffalo’s renaissance. It’s important they continue to come by the thousands. The future of Buffalo depends on it. And here, we have this loose cannon Quigley urging otherwise rational people to loiter on street corners waiting to go—what does he call it? Pogoing?”

“The term is pogeying, which is essentially the same thing as skitchin,” Quigley retorted, “which my esteemed critic would know if he hadn’t been forced to spend his childhood winters packed off to a boarding school near St. Moritz because his parents found him to be an overbearing blabbermouth.”

The Steam Donkeys Winter Carnival at Sportsmen’s Tavern will also feature a performance drawing from the band’s vast catalog, plus several choice covers, sprinkled with lots of their trademark wise-cracking stage banter. Carnival admission is only $3. Participants are responsible for any legal issues they may incur before, during and after the event.

 

 

 

 


Steam Donkeys Host Global Think Tank Fundraiser Saturday Night

Filed under: Announcements, Music

The Steam Donkeys, a Buffalo-based musical act and global think tank, will be hosting a fundraiser for the organization this Saturday night (11/21) at the Sportsmen’s Tavern. The event will begin with a performance by Akron, Ohio-based Americana group Hey Mavis.

The Steam Donkeys

The Steam Donkeys

“From time to time we ask our supporters to chip in to help fund the think tank,” says Steam Donkeys front man and spokesperson Buck Quigley. “People don’t understand the expenses involved in running a think tank—and a global one, at that. But when we remind them of just some of the mind bending ideas that have been generated as a result of all the thinking we do, they’re happy to reach for their wallets.”

Not everyone agrees.

“Why should I pay $10 to see two great bands at an intimate, acoustically-perfect venue with great food and drinks, friendly staff, and outgoing music lovers when I could—as I did last Wednesday—shell out $100 to see the Dead & Company in the vast echo-chamber that is the First Niagara Center?” So asked one slightly baked hippie, under condition of anonymity. “I find comfort in buying $10 cans of Yuengling and getting harassed by zealous, skin-headed security guards while I’m getting my freak on.”

“To each his own,” Quigley observes. “We’re very excited to be sharing the stage with a band as cool as Hey Mavis—who will be kicking off the evening at 8pm—and we’re sure our fans will be wowed by their hip take on bluegrass.”

Hey Mavis  (Photo: shanewynn.com)

Hey Mavis
(Photo: shanewynn.com)

Fans of the global think tank—commonly known as Steam Heads—are urged to arrive early and stay late. “They can park their vans in the Tops parking lot and do whippets or whatever it is they do all day,” says Quigley.

The Steam Donkeys take the stage at 10pm.

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Why Not Pay Politicians to Do What You Want Them to Do?

Filed under: National Politics

The National Review, among others chimed in on President Obama’s call to politicize the gun control debate following the recent shooting spree in Oregon. From the article:

But ultimately Obama was just paying lip service to an ideal he does not live by. He’s not about to try building consensus on gun policy among people of good faith. He’ll take the same approach he’s taken throughout his presidency: He’ll delegitimize opponents of his sweeping agenda as irrational, self-interested enemies of decency and progress.

This kind of back and forth is good for political pundits of every stripe because it guarantees the debate will continue with nothing really changing.

 
But as we learn in this MapLight report, the most reliable way to influence a politician’s vote on an amendment concerning gun control is simply to pay them to vote a certain way.
 
A quick glance at this table shows that legislators received no money from groups that supported Senate Amendment 715—To Protect Second Amendment Rights, Ensure That All Individuals Who should Be Prohibited from Buying a Firearm Are Listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and Provide a Responsible and Consistent Background Check Process.
 
In all but a very few exceptions, politicians who accepted money from the gun lobby voted against the Amendment.
 
 
Presidential candidate Ted “Machine Gun Bacon” Cruz received $89,329 and voted “no.” Presidential candidate Marco “No Show” Rubio received $76,089 and voted “no.” Senate majority leader Mitch “The Rifleman” McConnell received $72,300 and voted “no.”
Mitch McConnell, Rifleman

Mitch McConnell, Rifleman

 
The takeaway is that money talks and bullshit walks. Gun control advocates should not get bogged down in ideological arguments with people whose opinions are bought and paid for. Why not just raise the money and pay these politicians whatever it takes to vote for gun control laws?
 
 
 


Old News: Hospital Implosion Kills 12-year-old Girl

As Artvoice reported on September 22, the implosion of the former Kaleida Gates Circle hospital tower is not the sort of event the local media should be promoting as a wholesome spectacle—yet the Buffalo News continues to pump up the hype machine.

Click here to read about the 1997 implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital in Australia.

However, the implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital was a terrible failure. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be later manually demolished. But far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators situated 500 metres away on the opposite side of the Lake, in a location that nobody considered unsafe or inappropriate. A twelve-year-old girl, Katie Bender, was killed instantly, and nine other people were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.

Read the comments on YouTube.

 

500 feet should be good. Nevermind if 650 meters wasn't enough in Canberra.

500 feet should be good. Never mind if 500 meters wasn’t enough in Canberra.




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