The following is the summary of the Jan. 10 meeting of the Buffalo Common Council:
IMPLEMENTING A PROFESSIONAL CITY MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT
The Council adopted the first resolve of a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr., supporting the creation of a commission consisting of public and private sector representatives appointed by the Council President to research the adoption of a city manager form of government for the City of Buffalo. A city manager form of government combines the leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of a professional manager. Fifty-eight percent of all United States cities with populations over 100,000 utilize a city manager form of government and the Council maintains that it is essential for the City of Buffalo to consider the benefits of implementing a professional city manager form of government.
RESTORE FUNDING TO THE NFTA
The Council adopted a resolution urging the New York State Legislature to adopt a plan to restore funding to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (“NFTA”). The NFTA is New York State’s second largest transit provider and the only provider outside of New York City with a light rail system. Since 2009, the NFTA’s state transit operating assistance has been cut six times for a total of $4.3 million in losses to its budget. At the same time, workers compensation costs rose 35 percent, health insurance costs rose 17 percent, and maintenance and repair costs rose over 12 percent. The NFTA is currently facing significant budget deficits. To close this gap, the NFTA has already implemented work force reductions and other efficiencies that have reduced their deficit to $7 million, and on December 19, 2011, the NFTA Board decided to pursue further cost savings through service reductions. The Council maintains that the NFTA needs additional state intervention to navigate these difficult economic times.
THE INFLUENCE OF UNLIMITED CORPORATE MONEY ON ELECTIONS
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. supporting the adoption of a Constitutional Amendment and other legislative actions that would ensure that only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights, and that money is not the same as speech and therefore the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process should no longer be considered a form of constitutionally protected speech. The United State Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission rolled back legal restrictions on corporate spending in the electoral process, allowing unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, and policy decisions. Corporations are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment was never intended to let non-human business corporations spend unlimited corporate funds to influence elections. Although money affects the quality and quantity of speech, it is not, in itself, speech. The Council maintains that corporations are not people, do not vote, and should not be allowed to have such an overwhelming influence on elections.
CLOSING OF WILLIAM STREET UNITED STATE POSTAL SERVICE
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Ellicott District Council Member Darius G. Pridgen urging the federal representation from the City of Buffalo to ensure that the William Street location of the United States Postal Service remains open and requesting that United States Congressman Brian Higgins organize a meeting with all local elected officials in the City to discuss a plan to keep the facility open. Recently, the United States Postal Service stated its intent to close the William Street branch in the City of Buffalo due to harsh economic conditions, despite the fact that the City of Buffalo is the second largest city in New York State and is in close proximity to Toronto, Ontario, the financial capital of Canada. The closing of this branch of the United States Postal Service would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs, elimination of overnight delivery of first-class mail, and will have a negative impact on the community in which it serves. The Council maintains that keeping the William Street branch open is essential to the growth of the City of Buffalo and quality of life of its residents.
• The Council approved the appointment of the following individuals to positions within Common Council Offices and the Office of the City Clerk:
o Office of the City Clerk
Deputy City Clerk
• Mary Baldwin
Deputy City Clerk – Vital Statistics
• Mildred Castro
Legislative Assistant to City Clerk
• Sharon Adler
Assistant Legislative Aide II
• Tashares Burks
o Common Council Staff Office
Senior Legislative Assistant
• Nelson Rivera
o Ellicott District Office
• Felicia Williams
•The Council approved the appointment of the following individual to the position of Intern VI within the Office of the City Clerk:
o Deborah Tucker
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within various City of Buffalo Departments at the base salary:
o Department of Public Works
Senior First Class Stationary Engineer
• Brian Leonard
• Charles Kulp
o Department of Law
Assistant Corporation Counsel I
• John Hannibal IV
o Department of Audit and Control
• Maureen Eck
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the position of Laborer II - Seasonal within the Office of Strategic Planning at the base salary:
o Mark Welch
LICENSE AND PERMIT APPROVALS
Upon the recommendation of the Department Permit & Inspection Services, the Council approved the following license and permit applications:
• Ellicott District
o Food Store License
Union Market located at 177 Riley Street
o Second Hand Dealer License
Elmwood and Tupper Gallery located at 147 West Tupper Street
• Lovejoy District
o Used Car Dealer License
Jim Mazz Auto Inc. located at 1267 Bailey Avenue
• Niagara District
o Permit to Convert a Diner to a Retail Store
J. Forster, owner of the property located at 423 Elmwood Avenue
o Food Store License
Bill’s Corner located at 314 Hampshire Street
Mt. Everest Grocery located at 139 Vermont Street
CLAIMS, CONTRACTS, CHANGE ORDERS & AGREEMENTS
• The Council approved the following contract change orders submitted by the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”):
o The contract with Wilsandra Construction for the City Court Basement Detention Center Project was increased by $20,640 for additional repairs to be performed by the contractor. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,364,000 and with this change the contract will increase to $1,384,640.
o The contract with DiDonato Associates Engineering & Architecture, P.C. for the Water Distribution Improvements- Pipes on Various Bridges Project was increased by $19,700 for services necessary to replace the 8” pipe that recently failed on the Best Street Bridge over Route 33. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $150,000 and with this change the contract will increase to $169,700.
o The contract with Watts Architectural and Engineering Services Inc. for the Water Distribution Improvements- Various Locations #2 Project was increased by $138,973 for additional service necessary to complete the project. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $105,653 and with this and prior changes, the contract will increase to $508,221.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Division of Citizen Services, the Council:
o Authorized the disposal of six vehicles currently assigned to Citizen Services which are damaged, obsolete, and irreparable. The vehicles have been determined to be unsafe and not road worthy and will be disposed of by means of salvage.
• Upon the recommendation of the City of Buffalo Preservation Board, the Council:
o Authorized designating the Erie Freight House located at 9 Ohio Street as a local landmark.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:
o Authorized DPW to enter into necessary agreements with the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) and the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) for the painting of the Lincoln Parkway Bridge over Scajaquada Creek and the Cazenovia Street Bridge over Cazenovia Creek. The FHWA has designated $470,000 for these projects.
o Authorized DPW to hire a consultant for the architectural and engineering services needed for HVAC, Plumbing, and Fire Protection Upgrades at Kleinhans Music Hall.
o Authorized DPW to hire a consulting engineer for the design, construction, and inspection management of the conversion of Pearl Street from one-way to two-way traffic in the Ellicott and Fillmore Districts.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, the Council approved the following reports of bids:
o Of the bids that were received for the Emergency Water Main Repair at the Intersection of Parkside and Starin Avenues, Visone Construction Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $38,816.
o Of the bids that were received for the Johnnie B. Wiley Sports Pavilion Interior Alterations, Phase 1 Project, Miller Enterprises was the lowest with a bid of $312,000.