Local & regional news

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

A pair of demonstrations were held yesterday in recognition of what is being called the "99 Percent Spring."

More than one hundred people gathered outside of the Verizon store in Amherst before moving on to National Fuel Gas headquarters in Williamsville. The protestors were lobbying for contract equity for workers and for programs to assist low income families with energy conservation and with rising gas bills.

Among the coordinators of the event were PUSH Buffalo, VOICE Buffalo, and the Coalition for Economic Justice.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

A man who narrowly averted death just weeks ago was killed in an early morning fire on Saturday.

The as yet unidentified victim was recently pulled to safety from the subway tracks at the Utica Street station after falling unconscious and tumbling into the path of an oncoming train. The fifty-nine year old man was killed when his Bailey Avenue apartment was consumed by fire.

Rescue efforts were unsuccessful, though another occupant did escape the blaze.

Smoking in bed is thought to be the cause of the fire.

WBFO News file photo

A birthday celebration at Martin Luther King Park took a tragic turn Saturday evening.

Approximately 60 people were gathered for a barbecue when a man of average height and weight, wearing a hoodie and light colored jeans, approached. He opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun, scattering adults and children alike. Five people were hit and have been hospitalized. Two are reported to be in critical condition. The suspect fled on foot.

Police are asking the public for help. The tip line can be reached at 847-2255.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

An ongoing investigation into possible bribes paid by tow truck operators to Buffalo Police officers has gained greater gravity after a death last week.

Tow Truck driver Corddaryl Henley was shot in what is believed to have been a conflict over a towing job. The News reports that a select few tow operators seem to have a preference with police, and Henley was breaching that system.

The FBI is joining the probe.

The city is reviewing its ordinances for towing services.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

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.

File Photo / WBFO, AM 970 News

The City of Buffalo along with members of the city's police force are facing a lawsuit over freedom of expression.

The suit has been filed by Lockport resident Gregory Owen. Owen was handing out religious fliers during last year's Italian Festival until police and festival organizers intervened, claiming that he did not have permission to distribute leaflets. The News reports that Owen is not seeking damages, simply the freedom to spread his message at future festivals.

There is no comment as yet from the Police Department.

A man with local roots is at the center of the recent Secret Service sex scandal.

Arthur Huntington, who was raised in Ransomville, was working with President Obama's advance team in South America. Huntington is accused by a prostitute of having hired her and then refusing to pay.

Huntington is thought to be one of the agents who have resigned from the Service.

His future remains uncertain.

 WBFO & AM-970's Mike Desmond presents this week's edition of You and The Law.  

Often, the major dispute in the breakup of a marriage or a relationship is child support. 

Mike Desmond speaks with attorney Brian Welsh about the issues of child support.

Congressman Brian Higgins and two members of the Western New York State Legislature delegation have sent a strongly-worded letter to the NFTA, calling on the Authority to relinquish control of the Outer Harbor.

Meeting with reporters on the windswept boardwalk by Gallagher Beach Friday, Higgins, State Senator Timothy Kennedy, and State Assemblyman Sean Ryan appealed to the NFTA to turn the title of 300 acres of prime waterfront real estate over to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, an agency whose sole mission is waterfront development. 

Wallenda's wire walk to be televised nationally

May 11, 2012

The daredevil walk of Nik Wallenda over Niagara Falls has been turned into a primetime network event.  

ABC announced today that it will devote its entire primetime schedule on June 15 to a three hour special as Wallenda attempts to walk over the falls on a tightrope. 

Meanwhile, in Niagara Falls, outside the Seneca Niagara Casino, preparations are underway for the high-wire walk.  Construction of a 1,200- foot high wire and spectator seating is underway. 

WBFO News file photo

Some state officials are hoping the surge of Medicaid costs can be eased by cutting fraud within the system.

They're carefully following new procedures employed locally by Health Transaction Network which is using a computer fingerprint identification system.

State Senator Mark Grisanti, for one, thinks Medicaid can use the system statewide.

Critics have raised privacy concerns, but Grisanti castes those aside
"All this card does is break your fingerprints down to a zeroes and ones," Grisanti said.

WBFO News file photo

A Thursday vote in the Erie County Legislature is re-igniting debate over the location of a planned $30 million education building.
While lawmakers voted to set aside $7.5 million for the new construction, it did little to settle the squabble over whether the new building should be built at ECC North or ECC City.

The project was originally intended for North, a campus sorely in need of capital improvements.

City advocates argue the construction would be better downtown, with a closer proximity to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

William Street mail center to remain open

May 10, 2012

Buffalo's William Street mail processing facility will remain open for at least three more years, according to Senator Charles Schumer.  Schumer says Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe informed him of the news this week. 

Under a cost-cutting reorganization plan, the Postal Service wanted to shift processing work to a similar facility in Rochester, eliminating 700 local jobs and ending overnight local delivery. Mail sent locally would have been processed in the Rochester facility and then sent back to Buffalo.

Governor Cuomo, who won national praise and attention for championing the passage of same sex marriage in New York, calls President Obama’s support of gay marriage a “major advancement for equal rights in this country.”

Cuomo says he “applauds the President’s courage” and believes that Mr. Obama’s support will “boost” efforts to advance marriage equality in many state where it is to legal, or where efforts are underway to ban gay marriage.

And Cuomo believes it will help change minds, saying people will think “if he can revisit an issue, than so can I”.

Bill amendment should save jobs at Falls base

May 10, 2012

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul is claiming victory in the battle to keep the 107th Airlift Wing active at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.  In an early morning communication, Hochul's office reported that an amendment added to the Defense Authorization Act should prevent proposed Pentagon cuts to the Air National Guard.

WBFO News photo Mark Leitner

East Aurora-based Explore & More Children's Museum has been given the go-ahead to start studies on developing a children's experience at Canalside.  The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation's Board of Directors gave its unanimous approval to the 25,000 square-foot project today. 

Explore & More Director Barbara Park Leggett says her organization already has plans for the site and has submitted a preliminary plan to the board that includes exhibits and programs.

GOP split over candidates in 27th primary race

May 9, 2012
WBFO News file photo

Chris Collins's congressional campaign is picking up endorsements as Republicans take sides in the approaching GOP primary in the 27th District.

Erie County Legislature Minority Leader Jack Mills and Niagara County Legislature Chairman William Ross are backing Collins. Both will serve as campaign chairs in their  respective counties.

Collins' opponent David Bellavia has earned several endorsements from notable officials, including State Senator George Maziarz and Genesee County Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

President pushes agenda in Albany

May 9, 2012

President Obama was in Albany on Tuesday touting the region's growth in high-tech manufacturing.

After an introduction from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the President took the stage at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

While much of his speech focused on a 5-point "to-do" list for Congress, which he says will help turn around the economy, Mr. Obama said he came to Albany because the region's high-tech manufacturing cluster represents the economic future of the nation.

Playwright A.R. Gurney admits his Buffalo roots have played a key role in his successful career.

"It took me a long time to start writing about my origins in Buffalo," Gurney told WBFO and AM970's Mike Desmond.

Once he did, Gurney wrote his way to success and accolades.

The Buffalo native has also devoted many plays to images of his own WASP family, including the current production of "Ancestral Voices: A Family Story" in the Road Less Traveled Theatre.

Gurney shared many of his thoughts with Mike Desmond in a conversation that can be heard here.

The first views of proposed changes to the former General Donovan State Office Building on lower Main Street were unveiled today. The renovated building will be known as One Canalside.

The city planning board received the plans from Benderson Development at its meeting Tuesday morning. Three stories of the building will become a 96-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel with the upper floors reserved for the Philips Lytle law firm, and retail and restaurant space on the first floor.

Members of the Buffalo Control Board and the Common Council say they want to get together to talk about a major shift in the way the board operates, from how much money is spent to how well it's spent.

The comments were made during the annually-required public meeting of the board.

By law, the Control Board must approve budgets of the city, the school board and an array of other city agencies.

Board Member George Arthur says his panel has only so much control over school finances.

Cuomo wants to write a book on governing

May 8, 2012

He's held the titles of HUD Secretary, state Attorney General and Governor of New York State, now Andrew Cuomo wants to add "author" to his resume.

The Democrat has been Governor for 17 months and often uses the word ``historic'' as a modifier for his accomplishments, including the legalization of gay marriage.

Cuomo says he will write about his governing philosophy.

Cuomo says he doesn't plan a memoir, but a book on how New York is improving and about its brighter future.

His former  Chief of Staff is seeking a co-author and publisher for the project.

Looking back at how V-E Day 1945 was celebrated in Buffalo

May 8, 2012

May 8th is a date that marks a most memorable moment in our history --known as V-E Day. 

It was the day the German surrender to the allies in 1945.  WGRZ senior correspondent and WBFO & AM-970 News contributor Rich Kellman tells us the "V" stood for victory and how hundreds of Buffalonians celebrated the day it happened. 


Judge denies mistrial motion in Corasanti case

May 7, 2012

Erie County Court judge Sheila DiTullio has denied a defense request for a mistrial in the case of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

As the trial resumed Monday morning defense attorney Joel Daniels asked the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming a report in Sunday's Buffalo News could have tainted jurors.

Corasanti is standing trial for vehicular manslaughter in the hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice of Amherst last July on Heim Road. 

The prosecution says Corasanti had been drinking prior to hit and run.

It continues to be a dangerous year for motorcyclists in our region. Saturday, there was a fatal motorcycle crash in Chautauqua County linked to high speed.

Motorcycle groups try to teach safety, especially to less experienced bikers, but not all listen.

Andrew Barr is president of the Cattaraugus County Chapter of the motorcycle group ABATE, which stresses education. Barr said a big safety problem is automobile drivers who don't pay enough attention to bikers.  Barr knows first hand because his only accident resulted from being cut off by a car.

Photo from Google Map Street view

The City of Buffalo has spent more than $73 million in the last 12-years to demolish 5,800  vacant buildings -- many were homes. 

The Buffalo News reveals details in a series of articles launched Sunday called  "The Wrecking Crews". 

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley sat down with Buffalo News reporter Dan Herbeck to discuss the findings in today's Press Pass interview.

"We think the readers of the Buffalo News should know how their tax dollars are being spent on this program," said Herbeck.

On May 15th, voters across New York will go to the polls to consider school district budgets and for the first time, schools will be under the constraint of a property tax cap, and school leaders say they’ve had to make “sacrifices” to live within those limits.

The New York State School Boards Association surveyed its members, and found that the majority of schools , 92%, are proposing budgets that are within the limits of the new tax cap.

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.

A Niagara Falls man is safely in custody after authorities talked him down from the roof of a 7th Street home.

The man is a suspect in stabbing incident, and he barricaded himself on the roof as police closed in on him. SWAT team members were called in to handle the situation. After more than eight hours and a near fall from the peak, the man was safely convinced to surrender.

The identity and condition of the suspect have not been released.

A rare natural occurrence has taken place in Canada, and it is peaking the interest of many naturalists.

A flower known as the Titan Arum has blossomed at the Niagara Parks Floral Showcase. The flower is rare. Approximately 150 of these plants are known to exist throughout the world. The flower is recognized as the tallest blossoming plant, and the flower exudes a strong, putrid odor that has been compared to rotting meat.

The bloom will be on display today from 9:30 this morning until 9 tonight.