Buffalo Common Council

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Former Common Council member Brian Davis pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing $48,000 dollars in federal funds from the City of Buffalo. 

Davis  admitted the crime as part of a plea deal involving his cooperation with investigations at City Hall. 

"Today's developments mark one of the first times, in recent memory, that an elected official has been convicted of actually stealing money in his care," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.

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The Buffalo Common Council has approved its amendments to the Mayor's Proposed City Budget for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

A unanimous vote created a new budget line for funding Arts and Cultural groups. Monies were also designated for purchasing bottled water for firefighters and for hiring new police officers as well as firefighters.

The revised budget will now be reviewed by the mayor.

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As expected, Christopher Scanlon was named this morning as the new South District Common Council member.

The 30-year-old Scanlon was appointed by a 5-3  Council vote  to assume the seat vacated by Mickey Kearns, who was elected to the State Assembly in March.

"I'm excited, I'm very excited.  I'm just really looking forward to working with the people of South Buffalo, working with the members of the Council [and] everyone else here in City Hall and do what's best for South Buffalo," Scanlon said.

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The local cultural community and the school board told separate Common Council budget hearings last night they need more funding.

Led by Interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon, the Council was given a detailed look at deteriorating finances with cuts in state aid as costs like pensions, retiree health insurance, and teacher salaries go up.

Nonetheless, Dixon offered an optimistic tone.

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Lifelong South Buffalo resident Kevin Lafferty formally announced his candidacy for the vacant South District Common Council Seat on the steps of City Hall Monday. 

Lafferty and four other applicants will present their credentials to the Council for consideration Tuesday morning.  The person appointed must run for the office in November. 

Lafferty pledged that if he is chosen, he will represent the interests of residents of South Buffalo and not "political leaders."

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The defense attorney for a Buffalo Police Officer and former Common Council member is building an argument in a coming felony fraud case.

Robert Quintana is accused of improperly collecting benefits while on leave from police duty due to an injury. During that time he worked at a family restaurant. The defense claims Quintana could only work a few hours a week and was not compensated.

The charges could bring a twenty year prison sentence.

City accepting council applicants again today

May 7, 2012

More candidates are stepping forward, offering their resumes in an effort to become Buffalo's next South District Councilmember.

After reviewing an earlier group of 11 candidates, council leaders asked for more applicants who would like to take over the seat left vacant since Mickey Kearns moved on to the state Assembly earlier this year.

Councilmembers are charged with selecting Kearns' successor but have not been able to reach a consensus on any previous candidate.

Five new candidates have applied for the post.

Resumes will be accepted until 5 p.m. today.

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It's back to the drawing board for the Common Council in filling the vacant South District seat.

The seat has been vacant since Mickey Kearns was elected to the State Assembly.

It's been a difficult seat to fill since one applicant turned out not to live in the district and another had done time in prison and no one could come up with the necessary five votes.

Council searches for Kearns' replacement today

Apr 16, 2012

Buffalo's South District may have a new Common Council representative as soon as tomorrow.

The Council is scheduled to interview 11 candidates starting today as it completes the process of replacing Mickey Kearns who moved to the state Assembly in a special election earlier this year.

Kearns' former aide Matthew Fisher was endorsed for the post this weekend by South Buffalo Democrats.

Another Council aide, Bryan Bollman, has also expressed interest in the seat.

Former County Legislator Timothy Whalen reportedly has withdrawn his name for consideration.

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City lawmakers could fill Michael Kearns' former South District seat as early as Tuesday, according to Council President Richard Fontana. 

Kearns was elected to the State Assembly last month. 

And Fontana says he personally knows three of the seven applicants scheduled to appear before the full Council Monday.  

"This year it will be somewhat different. They (council candidates) won't be able to listen to each other's interviews. In the past, we had them all in the chambers at the same time," Fontana said.

With the possibility of spending at least $100 million on repairing Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, city lawmakers are pushing for another look at instead building a new stadium in the City of Buffalo.

Erie County and the Bills are involved in talks about a new lease, although no details are being released. The current stadium needs significant repairs, with the estimate of $100 million being used frequently, although an in-depth study apparently hasn't been completed for the Bills.

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Three contestants have been added to the growing list of candidates seeking the South District seat on Buffalo's Common Council.

Former County Legislator Timothy Whalen joined bartender Patrick Burke and nurse Linda Bain in raising the number of candidates in the race to six.

The seat became available when Michael Kearns was elected to the state's 145th Assembly seat last week.

Candidates filing for council seat

Mar 23, 2012

Mickey Kearns' move to Albany and an Assembly seat has set off a scramble for his spot on the Buffalo Common Council.

Former Erie County Legislator Tim Whalen is among those who have expressed an interest in the seat.

Under city charter, the new councilmember must come from Kearns'  South District and share his Democratic Party affiliation.

South District Democratic committeemen will nominate a candidate, but the Common Council has the final say.

Lawmakers approve underage proposal for downtown bars

Mar 20, 2012

The Buffalo Common Council has unanimously approved a law that would keep underage patrons out of bars after 10 p.m. most nights of the week.  

Citizens under the age of 21 would be banned from being inside taverns six nights a week in downtown Buffalo with the exception of Thursdays, which is often deemed “college night” at bars. 

An emergency meeting in Common Council Chambers over the possible loss of funding for Buffalo's neediest schools drew more than a hundred people last night.

Unless the school district reaches a deal with its unions on a teacher evaluation plan that Albany will accept by next week, $9 million will be lost.

The deadline for having a teacher evaluation system in place is coming up next week.

Along with the millions at stake, Buffalo could also lose out on an additional $50 million in aid next year unless there's an agreement.

Fontana elected new common council president

Jan 3, 2012
WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett

The Buffalo Common Council has elected new leadership. 

Lovejoy District lawmaker Richard Fontana has been elected to serve as Common Council president, knocking out long-time council president David Francyzk. 

Lawmakers voted in favor of Fontana to serve as next council president. 

“Having worked with and looked up to many Council Presidents, it is a sincere honor to be elected by my colleagues to the office. A strong, independent, and proactive legislative branch of government is and always has been my vision for the Common Council," said Fontana.

Food Truck debate continues

Oct 25, 2011
WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Common Council held a meeting Tuesday to discuss issues surrounding food trucks in  the city. 

Restaurant owners voiced concerns about food trucks taking up parking spaces they say could be used for customers. One local hot dog vender said he would like food trucks to have a designated spot. 

Attorney Michael Kooshoian represents some of the restaurant owners.  He says they're not saying they don't want the food trucks in the area.