The football Uber angle
David Plouffe, who served as Barack Obama's campaign manager in the 2008 presidential race and is now a big shot with the Uber ride-sharing company, was in Buffalo City Hall Tuesday singing the praises of Uber as an economic development tool as well as a transit service. Uber, he said, provides extra income for those needing part-time work to get through the tight spots. It also offers transportation for those who might otherwise go without or - in the case of drunken college students - make bad choices. But it was Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang who made what might be the strongest pro-Uber argument in the minds of many Buffalonians - although she said it to me, and not the entire press conference.
"Buffalo," Anfang said, "is the only NFL city in the country without Uber."
The bond issue
As talks continue between the Brown Administration and city comptroller's office over how much money the city should borrow in 2016, I checked the State Comptroller's annual report on local finances to get a sense of how Buffalo's borrowing compares with some other cities in New York State. I found that, based on 2014 numbers, the most recent available, Buffalo's debt payments, as a percent of all spending, were higher than Rochester and Syracuse and lower than Yonkers. Here's the percentages: Yonkers - debt payments (interest and principal) are 8.2 percent of total spending; Buffalo - 7.5 percent of total spending; Syracuse - 6.4 percent; and Rochester - 4 percent.
Not befitting a landmark building
I recently got a note from a City Hallways reader about the public bathrooms in the basement of City Hall. From what I've been told, it's the only public bathroom in the building. (City Hall staff have keys to the locked restrooms on the other floors.) The woman noted that while City Hall is a magnificent building, the public ladies' room is far from magnificent. The doors on some of the stalls are makeshift and don't always lock. The mirror in the room is cracked. The faucet knobs on the sinks don't match. "This is embarrassing," she wrote to me, "especially for a landmark building."
After reading her note, I starting thinking about the tourists - some from other countries - I've spotted over the past year going into that restroom, and wondered what impression it made on them.
I mentioned the woman's note to Mayor Brown, then I showed him some pictures I took (when no one was in the room) after getting her note. Brown said he hasn't received any prior complaints about the public bathrooms in City Hall, but will look into it. "My priority is cleanliness, and facilities in working order," Brown said, adding: "Repairs should be done properly with proper fixtures and materials. I'm glad this has been brought to our attention, and we'll look into it."
South Park High School's winning football team will be in Mayor Brown's office after school today in recognition of the Sparks' statewide victory.