Mike Desmond


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. He also hosts “You and the Law,” a popular segment that involves interviews with local lawyers. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.

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WBFO News file photo

The fight over millions of dollars to help turn around the city's seven most troubled schools is becoming more tangled, with the State Education Department rejecting the third deal between the schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation over principal and teacher evaluations.

The teachers union met Tuesday night only hours after the notice form Albany on the rejection of the school improvement grant.

"I equate this with a teacher going into a class and giving a test to the class on a lesson they haven't taught," said Phil Rumore, president of the BTF.

Cheap electricity from the Niagara Power Project may soon provide more support for economic development in Erie and Niagara Counties.

Legislation in the budget hopper in Albany would set aside millions of dollars in profits from much of the electricity produced in Lewiston and put the cash into an economic development fund controlled by Governor Cuomo.

He would appoint three members of the five-member Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board which would run the fund.

Cultural agencies receiving funding from Erie County are facing fewer strings attached to the money coming from the Rath Building.

During recent years, many culturals were required to accept Collins Administration appointees to their boards and provide free tickets to events even if the tickets were eventually not used.

In some cases, culturals saw their money delayed until the appointments were made.

That's even when in other cases, there was no longer a county grant but the appointees stayed on boards.

This week on You & The Law, Mike Desmond talks with Vincent Doyle about state court funding.

The massive Trico plant complex on Goodell is now the object of a familiar community debate: preserve or demolish?

Hours after the city Preservation Board recommended last night the vast complex be listed as a historic landmark, Preservation Buffalo Niagara held a public meeting in the Common Council Chambers to talk about what to do with the deteriorating industrial complex.

Trico is a hodge-podge of buildings from different times built for different uses and the roof is shot, letting water and snow inside.

The crowd was smaller, but the criticism continued as the NFTA held another public hearing at the Central Library.

Reduced state and federal aid has forced the transit agency to look at service cuts and rate hikes.

An earlier proposal which would have discontinued many bus lines was abandoned after an outcry from politicians and the riding public.

A new alternative calling for a rate hike was not greeted greeted Thursday night.

WBFO News file photo

In a major political upset, South District Common Council member Mickey Kearns will be going to Albany to fill the Assembly seat vacated by City Comptroller Mark Schroeder instead of Chris Fahey, the candidate of Congressman Brian Higgins.

Going into Tuesday's balloting to fill the State Assembly, the conventional wisdom was that Democratic candidate Fahey would win, buoyed by Congressman  Higgins and his allies in a heavily Democratic district.

Pundit and analyst David Frum told an audience at Canisius College last night Republicans have to spend less time on social issues and more on economic issues which are damaging so many Americans.

The Toronto native says there have been years of downward economic pressure on most Americans and they don't like it and want change but Republicans aren't listening.

"The way you represent Americans who are under economic pressure is by taking seriously their economic interests and there are interests that are beyond simply the price of gas."

New Congressional districts approved in New York

Mar 20, 2012

A federal court has approved the Congressional election districts lines for New York that were drawn by a magistrate to square with the 2010 Census.
In Monday's ruling, the three-judge panel noted that less than 24 hours remains until the scheduled start of the petitioning process for the June 26 Congressional primaries.

The judges say they delineated districts because New York legislators have failed to.
 The panel approved the lines drawn March 6 by U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann.

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul was also marching at the St.Parick's parade as she prepares to race in a newly-configured district against an unknown opponent.

Though some details remain uncertain, election petitions should begin circulating tomorrow and a June 26th primary date appears likely for Congressional candidates.

It appears her new district will shift into towns with more Republican voters.

"I will be put back in my base which is the Southtowns. Hamburg, I was on the town board a long time," Hochul said.

WBFO News photos by Mike Desmond

With temperatures in the seventies, over 100,000 lined Delaware Avenue yesterday for the annual St. Patrick's parade.

The crowds attracted politicians who followed the time-honored tradition of marching in the event.

"Everybody's Irish on St.Patrick's Day. It's a day where families celebrate the great Irish heritage in this community," said Congressman Brian Higgins.

"That's why Mario Williams (the newest Buffalo Bill) is here. He knows it. It's no coincidence they signed him right around St. Patrick's Day."

WBFO and AM-970 presents a new segment called "You & the Law." 

Each Friday at 5:45 p.m., Mike Desmond talks about legal issues with a local attorney.  This week, Mike discusses the constitutional issues of redistricting with attorney Frank Housh.   


Southtowns native Patrick O'Connor, now an attorney in Miami, takes a novelistic look at life, love and baseball in his first book "The Last Will and Testament of Lemuel Higgins."

O'Connor spoke with Mike Desmond about his work.

Mike Desmond/WBFO


The hunt for a permanent Buffalo schools superintendent is bubbling along below the surface, with one of the people in charge of putting some guidance before the board saying last night's meeting in Southside Elementary was the 43rd meeting, some even with students.

After some packed meetings earlier, this sixth public meeting was thinly attended.

Bennett High junior Ryan Montgomery was there to push for the permanent choice of Interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon, saying she's doing well.

The proposal sent to Albany called for teachers not to be judged on students who had missed seven weeks or more and there are a lot of those students.

The plan was kicked back by Albany and the school board was told $9 million wouldn't be headed this way, half this school year and half next to help turn around seven Persistently Low-Achieving (PLA) schools.

The school board has already budgeted and spent some of the money preparing to start turnaround plans for the schools and may have to lay off teachers and administrators to make up for the money.

Governor Cuomo is moving to stabilize the NFTA by nominating four board members, replacing four members whose terms have long since expired.

The governor has nominated businessman and philanthropist Howard Zemsky to move up from a board member to chairman.  Zemsky was previously nominated to be chairman by Governor Spitzer but the nomination never came out of the Senate process.  It has been more than five years since there was a permanent authority chairman.

Cuomo has also nominated educator Bonita Durand, realtor Charles Gurney and union official Philip Wilcox.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believes Washington can move to slow rising gas prices with some short-term and some long-term solutions.

Gillibrand made her comments while making a stop in Western New York Monday.

Gillibrand  said the Strategic Petroleum Reserve can be tapped and she advocates on behalf of occasional furloughs from the gasoline tax.  In the long run, Gillibrand argues lawmakers can make a difference with better budget decisions.

WBFO News file photo

The search for a new Buffalo schools superintendent is heating up with public meetings to let citizens talk about the qualities of who should eventually sit in the City Hall office.

Mike Desmond was at a meeting last night in Hamlin Park School 74.

The school board hopes to have a superintendent in place by summer and has Cascade Consulting Group doing the search.

That Seattle-based firm is promising 60-meetings in the process, including talking to students about the superintendent's job.