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Build the Damn West River Bike Path Already!

Please Dont Bike

After attending a meeting of pro-Parkway partisans on Thursday night, taking a few drives, and finding out that there was a simultaneous pro-Bike Path meeting last Thursday, I decided to film a drive-by of the subject park lands. Councilman Mike Madigan tells me there is no way to build a bike path on the River, but instead wants one between two redundant two lane roadways.   Apparently, Supervisor McMurray favors converting the existing Parkway into a bike path, but the Parkway really isn’t on the river either.  

I am a biker, a scenic walker, and a cross country skier.   If I am going to transport to Grand Island for any such activity, I want to be on the Niagara River, not trapped between two roads, staring at some houses.   I can stare at houses in Amherst, North Buffalo or Clarence.   I don’t think anyone would build the West River Parkway today.   Neither the current pro environmental, anti-automobile attitude, or the traffic load would allow it.   But the Parkway is already there and a riverside bike path is not.   If the Parkway is a scenic route, slowing it down to 35 MPH from the present 55 would make it even more enjoyable.   But that won’t make it a safe pedestrian walkway.

My generation sent a man to the Moon and brought him back safely to Earth, using what now seems like Stone Age technology.   Therefore, in an effort to inspire the current local and state leadership, I have set my Parkway drive-by video to music and sound from the movie, The Right Stuff.  I begin with the clip of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 which was built just across the river in Wheatfield.   Click the movie box to see what the current situation is like from Buckhorn Island Park to the houses north of Beaver Island.   I think there is no real reason why a bike path cannot be built between the Parkway and the river, but you decide for yourself.   (If you look closely, at about 1:50 of the drive-by, you can see that there already is a bike path along the river for some distance.)

The Right Stuff 

Conversations with West River Parkway Homeowner’s Association President, Frank Greco, reveal that Parkway land owners have state permits for temporary docks and vegetation management.    

Temporary Dock Permit-0001

 

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West Parkway Homeowners President Frank Greco

 

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Mr. Greco also demonstrated that the river bank was not conducive to public  access in many places and he produced documentation for the claim that permanent docks can be maintained by those owners “and their linear descendants” for 99 years from July 31, 1991.  

Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0001 Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the above lead me to ask:  What is all the brouhaha about?   Isn’t the simple solution building a bike path/multipurpose walkway along the river?   Where are state bureaucratic and elected officials on this matter?   What about Chris Jacobs and Amber Small?   Where is Assemblyman John Ceretto?   What is short time Senator Mark Panepinto’s position?

Somehow I have the feeling that, if someone would just buy a keg of beer at the local fire hall and call a meeting, all this could be worked out pretty easily.   What am I missing? 

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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.

 


Amber Small TV Ad for NYS Senate Run

The first of many from candidates challenging for Marc Panepinto’s Senate Seat…


New York State Zones Out, Misses Medical Marihuana Deadline

A press release from the Buffalo Cannabis Movement:

marijuanaThe Buffalo Cannabis Movement is extremely displeased with implementation of the Compassionate Care Act (CCA) by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and we find no compassion for the needs of suffering patients and caregivers in the implementation process to date. The simple fact is that “medical marihuana” will not be available for patients in Western New York by the January 5 deadline. While Gov. Cuomo tasked the DOH in June 2014 to choose dispensary applicants whose establishment would be able to manufacture and dispense medicine by this deadline, our research shows that applications of well-established businesses better equipped to expedite manufacture and dispensing were denied. The 2 proposed locations of registered organizations in WNY, in close proximity to each other in Amherst/Williamsville, are not within Buffalo City limits, severely restrict those who rely on public transportation, and overlooks patients in the Southtowns.  

There is conflicting information on marijuana dosing—while Commissioner Zucker states in his Message from the Commissioner that the “physician will determine the appropriate dosage based on her or his medical judgment” the required 4-hour educational course is lacking sufficient material for a registered practitioner to dose the medicine. The implementation of the CCA has not been transparent, and Commissioner Zucker has been silent on his decision whether to approve the additional 5 medical conditions he was tasked with, including PTSD which was federally approved for dispensing by Veterans Health Administration health care providers months ago.

We believe that the CCA Medical Marijuana program is ineffective as it is too restrictive, is not in the best interests of New Yorkers, and that the Governor and Commissioner have failed in their responsibility in loco parentis, undertaken over 18 months ago. Patients, caregivers, and their practitioners should determine the appropriate health care strategy, not an overreaching bureaucracy based in Albany. Thus we are calling for full recreational legalization due to the ineptitude of the DOH and the NYS Government officials. We urge the NYS Legislature bring S.01747 and A.03089 to a vote and pass this Legislation the public wants and so many overlooked patients truly need. We demand Gov. Cuomo sign into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). We urge all local government officials to pressure our State Representatives to focus on this issue, as it is not only a civil rights issue, but a human rights issue.

Click here to sign a petition dedicated to the cause.


DiPizio Construction Co. Wins Major Appellate Court Ruling on Canalside Suit

A lot went haywire since then: December 5, 2011 - Congressman Higgins and Rosanne DiPizio of DiPizio Construction Announce That Buffalo is 3rd in the Nation in Construction Jobs Added in 2011.

December 5, 2011 – Congressman Higgins and Rosanne DiPizio of DiPizio Construction Announce That Buffalo is 3rd in the Nation in Construction Jobs Added in 2011. A lot went haywire since then.

 

DiPizio Construction Co. Wins Major Appellate Court Ruling on Canalside Suit

by Tony Farina

The local construction company suing the state over its termination as the Canalside contractor in July of 2013 has won a major victory in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

In a unanimous ruling handed down last week, the court reinstated DiPizio Construction’s claim that the president of the state’s Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) may have lacked the legal authority to terminate DiPizio from the $20 million replica canal project without authorization in the form of a vote from the Board of Directors, something DiPizio’s lawyers contend never happened.

“The court’s decision calls into question whether the termination by ECHDC President Dee was valid or not,” said Michael Ferdman, the attorney who argued the appeal for the DiPizio firm.  “We’re very pleased with this decision, we won.”

Dee had notified DiPizio by letter in May of 2013 that ECHDC intended to remove the company from the job, which it did in July, because it was falling behind construction schedule and not meeting its obligations on materials and with coordinating work with subcontractors.

Ferdman called the termination notice a political document issued to cover up “the bad faith administration of the construction agreement” that forced long delays and drove up “not just DiPizio Construction Co.’s costs, but taxpayers’ costs.”

In addition to construction costs, the state has been paying millions of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to the Phillips Lytle law firm to defend itself against the lawsuit by the local contractor which maintains it has been severely damaged by the negative publicity it received as a result of its termination that was well promulgated by ECHDC at the time which was trying to blame DiPizio for falling behind the schedule laid out by Albany for the replica canal project.

The appellate court ruling in favor of DiPizio sets aside the summary judgment issued by State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walker in January of 2014 in favor of ECHDC.

Walker had basically decided that the Board of Trustees had ratified the termination (without a vote), ruling they had been notified and had sufficient information from Dee and understood the issues.  After that decision, Ferdman took depositions from board members—in a related action– and found “they did not know there were design changes and design errors” by ECHDC and had only heard from Dee that problems and delays were all DiPizio’s fault.

The latest ruling, says Ferdman, means the court decided there are triable issues of what the board understood and calls into question whether the termination by Dee was valid or not.

In its ruling, the Appellate Division said despite ECHDC’s bylaws and the presumption that the board’s president had the authority to enter into and terminate contracts in the ordinary course of business and that no formal vote was required, “there are triable issues of fact whether a formal vote of the Board was required.”

Now that DiPizio’s complaint has been reinstated in front of Walker, Ferdman is hoping the case will eventually go in front of jury that will have the opportunity to hear all the evidence and decide whether the termination of the construction firm with a solid 37-year history of satisfactory work was properly authorized or not.

The costs to taxpayers for the legal battle are soaring, and the construction company is also paying plenty to defend itself and try to recover its reputation through the courts.  Veteran court observers suggest the Appellate Division ruling in favor of DiPizio could help boost the possibility of a settlement, but no word yet from ECHDC on the ruling or possible settlement efforts.


How Does Your Buffalo Councilmember Rank On Raising Substantive Issues?

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An important part of being a leader is taking the initiative to propose ideas. Every two weeks elected members of the Buffalo Common Council have the ability to file a resolution on any topic they want, have it discussed and voted on at a City Council meeting. It is an opportunity that many do not take full advantage of.

Most resolutions filed by City Councilmember’s address routine items of government and very few raise items of substance. Check out the analysis in the link below to see how your and other City Councilmembers rank as far as taking the initiative to propose substantive items.

http://artvoice.com/issues/v14n30/news_feature

 


How Many Times Can A Politician Mention His Name?

Filed under: Local Politics

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As an Amherst resident I received a mailing from Assemblymember Ray Walters. It is really incredible the number of name drops Walter’s pulls off in one 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper.

The mailing at taxpayer expense highlights three events the Assemblymember is holding. Somehow in mentioning three events his name is dropped by my count 10 times! Along with three photos of himself.

Clearly the main purpose of the mailing is not to provide information, the purpose is to promote the Assemblymember at a time when he is campaigning for higher office.

It just get’s tiring how being in elected office is primarily about self promotion.

 


Fosdick Field Plans Announced Today; Meanwhile, BMHA Already Trying to Sell the Land

photoAbove is a photo taken this morning of the big, grassy field in front of City Honors School—currently owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. BMHA bought the land from the city for $15,000 in 1977 and constructed the long-dilapidated and recently demolished Woodson Gardens housing complex there.

Looking good, BMHA!

Looking good, BMHA!

With the land now cleared again, there has been a movement afoot to return it to its original use as an athletic field for both the school and the neighborhood—which is starved for green space. Adjacent to the medical campus, the real estate is now appraised at $2.1 million, despite containing human remains from when it was used as a potter’s field in the 1800s.

Construction of the field is estimated at $2.9 million. According to speakers at today’s press conference, the money would need to come from a combination of public and private investment. Visit www.restoreourfield.org to learn more about the plans and view a virtual tour of the restored green space.

You can also click here to sign a petition calling for the restoration of historic Fosdick Field.

Here’s the catch: The BMHA has already put the land on the market, asking for $2,137,000. Although BMHA officials did not return calls and emails requesting comment, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spokesman Charles McNally was quick to confirm that the real estate is currently for sale.

“Once they receive an offer, they will submit an application to HUD for formal approval to dispose of the land,” McNally said.

 

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The restoration of the field is endorsed by:

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Fruitbelt Neighborhood Coalition

UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Buffalo-Niagara Partnership

Orchard Community Initiative

City of Buffalo Preservation Board

Cornerstone Manor/Buffalo City Mission

UB School of Clinical and Translational Research Center

City Honors Parent, Teacher, Student Community Organization (PTSCO)

Macedonia Chruch

Preservation Buffalo-Niagara

PUSH Buffalo

Fosdick-Masten Park High School Alumni Association

WNY Land Conservancy

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Buffalo Olmsted Parks

Kaleida Health

Hauptman-Woodward Institute

Kiwanis Buffalo

City Honors School Alumni Association

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