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War and Peace Bridge

Dissenting Adults

While the officials in this battle tried their best this week to sit on their hands, the citizens spoke up and finally, grudgingly, were heard.  Because of community outcry, the Buffalo Common Council issued two resolutions relative to Peace Bridge expansion, the DOT extended the comment period for its plaza improvement project, and the Governor tried to change the subject.

Postmortem

Peace Bridge (Mis)understanding

This Artvoice reviewof the document known as the Peace Bridge Understanding shows mainly how difficult it is to understand, finally concluding:

If there is—was—any substance at all in the understanding and agreement Governor Andrew Cuomo announced here with such fanfare, it’s hard to discover.

Peace Bridge deal may not be the final solution for New York and Canada

And this astute opinion piece from the group Independent Newspapers of Western New York goes even further to criticize the entire idea of a commercial crossing in this location–something the residents have been saying for years.

Choice excepts include:

The Peace Bridge’s future has been uncertain for more than a decade and a sudden coup d’état by Cuomo is not a guaranteed solution. The bridge issue has been an inconvenient truth to both governments, for as long as we can remember... .

Homeowners’ rights must be respected, as this latest power play from the governor is brought closer to reality... .

Cuomo and Canadian officials may have shaken hands on this plan, but place the blame for the contemporary crisis on the architects and planners who chose this location,… .  Buffalo was outfitted with an octopus more than a century ago, one that even Cuomo can’t contain.

A Cuomo power play won’t end this crisis quite as fast as the governor apparently hopes it will.

If he considers “solving” the Peace Bridge issue his first experience in foreign policy in preparation for a possible 2014 presidential bid, he might want to walk a mile in the shoes of the folks on Busti Avenue.

Common Council resolution re: Hutchison Memorial Chapel and Thornton Memorial Hall

In this report posted in buffalorising, the Buffalo Common Council “requests” the new owners of the former Episcopal Church Home honor and secure this cherished city landmark. The resolution, quoted from movetheplaza.com, states:

1 Massachusetts Avenue – Former Episcopal Home Property – The Council adopted a resolution, sponsored by Niagara District Council Member David A. Rivera, requesting that New York State honor the City of Buffalo Historic Landmark status of the Hutchison Memorial Chapel and Thornton Memorial Hall and makes every effort to preserve both of these buildings. The resolution also requests that Empire State Development ensure the safety and security of the entire property, understanding its recent problematic status in the community and makes every effort to ensure it will not be a source of blight and vandalism.

The Natives are Restless

Can you hear us now?

Residents claim DOT ignores them

West Side residents, angered over an unresponsive government authority and mobilized by Clean Air Coalition of WNY, took their appeal directly to the Buffalo offices of the New York State DOT.  They staged a protest there in an effort to be heard.  See video coverage here, and…

West Side residents seek greater input on Peace Bridge projects

…hear a radio report here.  According to demonstrator and neighborhood resident Betsy Murphy:

“To put it very simply, this issue is about geography. An expanded truck plaza does not belong in a crowded, dense residential community. We all know that people on the West Side are sick from diesel fumes. It’s been proven. So we don’t understand how introducing more trucks into the community will help. It’ll make matters worse,”… .

And, according to Clean Air Coalition organizer Natasha Soto:

“No one could tell us what the project looked like and no one could answer any of our questions. Everyone gets to make decisions about our neighborhood except for us and we are here today to tell them that that is unacceptable. We live here. It is our neighborhood, and we deserve a say,”… .

The Buffalo Common council also demonstrated its support of the neighborhood and adopted and forwarded a resolution, sponsored by North District Member Joseph Golombek, Jr., formally requesting the FHWA and DOT to:

…extend the public comment period for the NY Gateway Connections Improvement Project to the U.S. Plaza for an additional 30 days

and also to:

…further publicize the project materials and website, and the community’s ability to provide comment…


Did all these maneuvers work?  In a way:  late on the very day that would have marked the end of the public scoping comment period, the DOT hastily issued a statement extending the period another 10 days.
Grateful residents now know, no doubt, how the Italians felt during WWII when Liberation Forces tossed them chocolate after screwing their mothers.

We’re watching you

Fitch: Peace Bridge Board Functionality Key to Credit Quality

The Public Bridge Authority may have an ‘A’ bond rating now, but that doesn’t mean the ratings review board isn’t concerned over recent dysfunction.  If the bridge authority board deadlocks again or stumbles in any way, beware.  Read about Fitch’s concerns here.

What’s the difference?

How we will clean up Albany

Disclosure laws and an anti-corruption panel are major wins for the public

Governor Andrew V. Cuomo, in an effort to change his image from Disruptor to Reformer, announces not only a law requiring greater “disclosure” by elected officials but also the formation of a commission to enforce it.

In this editorial from the New York Daily News, the pugnacious governor details his “one-two punch” in the fight against corruption.

It remains to be seen what will come of this, but one statement in Cuomo’s editorial is irrefutable:

…there will always be corruption. The truth is that malfeasance is pervasive in every sector of society, but more prominent and rightfully more offensive when it occurs in government.

The Last Word

Cuomo’s plan has more to do with cash than tourism

What’s interesting is, an editorial in today’s Buffalo News by an anti-gambling advocate questions Governor Cuomo’s motives in promoting state-run casinos.  The editorial suggests the Governor is being less being honest.

The sad fact is that if this is true, it may not be corruption; but it’s certainly “politics as usual.”

Incidentally, we cannot link to the editorial here, as it is currently unavailable on the newspaper’s website.

You’ll just have to trust us.

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