Tom Dinki

Reporter

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.

Tom is a Buffalo native and 2016 University at Buffalo graduate, holding a B.A. in English and journalism certificate. While at UB, he served as editor in chief of the university's independent student newspaper, The Spectrum.

After graduating from UB, Tom spent three years as a reporter for the Olean Times Herald, where he covered mostly crime and education throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

His three-part education series, "The state of New York rural schools: Left behind," won a 2018 New York Associated Press first-place Enterprise Reporting Award, second-place Investigative and Watchdog Reporting Award, and first-place Data Visualization Award.

When he’s not eating, sleeping and breathing the news, Tom likes to ride his bike and watch — and more importantly, discuss and debate — movies and television.

You can follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki.

Ways to Connect

Jacquie Prenatt

Every September, thousands of people march through downtown Buffalo wearing purple shirts to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research and care. Like so many other large fundraisers, COVID-19 has made this impossible. 

 

Instead, those impacted by the cognitive disorder will walk in small, socially-distanced groups in their own communities Saturday morning. 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Blocher Homes assisted living facility will officially become a mixed-income apartment complex, as the Williamsville Planning Board approved the controversial project with the minimum number of votes needed.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A tumultuous week on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo concluded with a peaceful march Friday night in which protesters were at times at odds on whether to focus on economic racism related to a high-profile incident at a bar, or continue the police reform effort started earlier this summer.

 


Left: Courtesy of Ondrea Pate; Right: Courtesy of Victoria D'Angelo

More than 40% of the country’s now more than 180,000 COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, according to a New York Times database. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki has been covering the impact on local nursing homes throughout the pandemic. In this week's story from “The Toll,” he spoke to family members who lost loved ones in two local long-term care facilities.

 

Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News

A peaceful protest through North Buffalo nearly turned ugly Tuesday when marchers were confronted by Hertel Avenue bar patrons in the vicinity of last week’s altercation involving a man with a knife.


Jeffrey Barnes photography

The Buffalo Police Department charged a Cattaraugus County man with a hate crime Monday for allegedly threatening Black Lives Matter protesters on Hertel Avenue, but he was immediately released and given a ticket to appear in court more than a month from now.

 

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says to blame New York state’s bail reform.  

 


Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Republicans are celebrating a possible U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis in New York state nursing homes, while others are concerned that the action is politically motivated.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York state nursing homes have long been plagued by understaffing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Despite this, the state Department of Health opposes a bill that would mandate minimum staffing level standards in nursing homes. 

Community Action Organization of Western New York

The Community Action Organization of Western New York has a new program to assist low-income seniors in the city of Buffalo, thanks to funding from the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus bill.

 

New York State Legislature

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker declined to testify at Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate nursing homes, leaving lawmakers to instead question nursing home stakeholders about issues like shortages of testing and personal protective equipment, as well as restrictions on visitation.

 

 


New York State Legislature

Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate New York nursing homes will likely feature talk about reforming visitation policies and a lack of personal protective equipment, but don’t expect to hear from who some consider the state’s most important nursing home witness, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The Erie County Department of Health has closed several bars and restaurants for allegedly not following COVID-19 regulations, and county lawmakers want to know if the shutdowns were justified.

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

New York state finally gave nursing homes permission to allow visitation July 15, but more than two weeks later, the overwhelming majority of nursing homes remain closed off to visitors. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki examines the slow reopening, which some blame on nursing homes not planning ahead and others blame on what they say are overly strict state guidelines. 


Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

A statue of Christopher Columbus has been removed from its longtime perch at Porter Avenue and Niagara Street in Columbus Park.

 

Kevin P. Coughlin / (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

A New York state report released this week found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial executive order, which placed COVID-19 hospital patients into nursing homes, was not to blame for the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths. But, as WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki found, many, including Republican lawmakers, watchdog groups and medical professionals, still have questions about what impact the order had.

 

 


New York state has been criticized for previously mandating that nursing homes take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals. But on Monday the state Department of Health issued a report saying the policy was not the major driver of nursing home deaths, and that it was instead nursing home workers unknowingly bringing the virus into facilities. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki spoke with Dr. Nancy Nielsen from the University at Buffalo to discuss the report and what it does — and does not — confirm about the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths.

 


Joshua Ramos

A man seen on video being punched by a Buffalo police officer plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Members of the Buffalo Police Department covered their name tags while guarding Mayor Byron Brown’s house Wednesday evening, a dubious practice seen across the U.S. during the recent police brutality protests.

 

 


State Sen. Chris Jacob's office

Despite a higher than usual number of absentee ballots left to be counted, Republican State Sen. Chris Jacobs declared victory Tuesday night in the special election for New York’s 27th Congressional district, as well as the three-way primary for who will represent the GOP in the race for the seat this November.

 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York state, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, will mandate that travelers quarantine for 14 days if they’re coming in from states with high rates of COVID-19.

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is expected to soon announce police reform proposals in the wake of the George Floyd protests and a WBFO video showing Buffalo police pushing an elderly protester. However, the Buffalo Common Council’s independent police advisory body already has an idea of what reforms it would like to see.

 


Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A video of Buffalo Police Department officers pushing an elderly white protester has been viewed more than 80 million times on Twitter. Mayor Byron Brown appeared on MSNBC. A CNN crew was at Niagara Square. 

 

The city of Buffalo has been thrust into the national spotlight of the police brutality protests, after WBFO captured video Thursday of two officers shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground outside City Hall, where he bled from his head.

 

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A week after protests began in Buffalo over the police killing of George Floyd, one of the largest crowds yet gathered in Niagara Square Saturday evening to call for concrete police reforms.

Nick Lippa / WBFO

A day after a viral video showed Buffalo police push an elderly man to the ground outside City Hall, several hundred protesters made their way around the city of Buffalo Friday evening while mostly avoiding any contact or confrontations with law enforcement. 

Nick Lippa/WBFO News

Western New York officially began Phase Two of reopening Tuesday, although the announcement was somewhat clouded by growing unrest and new curfews due to the killing of George Floyd.

WNYC

Disgraced former congressman Chris Collins is once again asking to delay his federal prison sentence given concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Older adults are most vulnerable to become seriously ill from COVID-19, so even as Western New York and other areas of the country begin to reopen, public health officials warn those over 65 should continue to limit their exposure. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki explores what local nonprofit organizations are doing to help seniors get their essentials without risking their health. 


WBFO file photo

The Erie County Legislature has joined the call for an independent investigation into how New York state has handled the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.


The McGuire Group

The McGuire Group announced Thursday that Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville is now exclusively taking care of residents sick with COVID-19.

 

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

Western New York has met all of the required metrics required by the state to begin the first phase of reopening from the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Monday morning.

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