Matthew Spina - The Buffalo News

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Matthew Spina

I'm a staff writer at The Buffalo News and a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State who grew up in the great town of Schenectady, N.Y.


A new Erie County law approved over the objections of some construction contractors will be the subject of a public hearing at 9 a.m. June 25 in the offices of County Executive Joel A. Giambra.Democrats who control the County Legislature have passed a new requirement that any contractor applying for county work must offer an apprentice-training program approved by the stat…

Even the round of layoffs being prepared won't stave off a year-end deficit for Erie County, predicts a lawmaker who helps steward the county's finances."I'm not sure we are going to be able to make up $17 million," said Legislator Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, chairman of the Finance Committee. "I'm not sure that we can make up all of that with layoffs at this point in t…

By the end of next week, the Erie County Legislature is likely to reconsider the question of whether county staff should maintain Buffalo's parks to help the city through its financial crisis.Legislature Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, said County Executive Joel A. Giambra and his staff expect to produce a refined agreement with the city in a few days.…

On instructions from County Executive Joel A. Giambra, county department heads have been asked to determine which personnel can be laid off as a way to keep the 2004 budget out of the red.Commissioners were advised of the potential for layoffs in a meeting May 26, and the Budget Department began corresponding with commissioners and department heads via e-mail to assemble a…

In Indianapolis, the former mayor explained, a new regional government 34 years ago inspired suburbanites to become more involved in the city. It fostered a sense of family, and it made community leaders less prone to bickering so they could focus on other things, such as attracting the Colts from Baltimore.In a saunalike gym at Daemen College in Snyder -- made even hotter…

The evening's loudest burst of applause went to Terrance Robinson, a lifelong Buffalo resident who alluded to the well-moneyed Seneca Nation of Indians and the Giambra administration's furniture scandal as he laid into Erie County's plan to take over maintenance of Buffalo's parks."We should go to our Seneca allies, ask them to put up a $1 million matching grant, and maybe…

As the gas pump raids your wallet, please take note: The tax collector's hand is in there, too, grabbing a few more cents with each leap in the price per gallon.On 20 gallons in Erie County, you've paid about $3.20 in sales tax, 80 cents more than a year ago. If at first blush that sounds like only a trickle, consider that New York and its local governments collected $689 …

A new panel of the Erie County Legislature began a review of county purchasing rules this week to prevent a repeat of the episode in which taxpayers may have spent $500,000 too much on office equipment bought by County Executive Joel Giambra's purchasing agents.Giambra later said that if the panel reviews 10 years of furniture purchases, members will see his administration…

A new wrinkle Friday increased doubts about Erie County's proposal to help City Hall weather its financial crisis by maintaining Buffalo's parks.Giambra administration officials, in urging legislators to approve the deal, had said it wouldn't cost county taxpayers additional money. But a new worksheet created to answer lawmakers' questions forecast that expenses would exce…

A state financial control board official Tuesday predicted dire consequences for the City of Buffalo if Erie County does not take over maintaining the city's 180 parks and playgrounds come July 1.Dorothy A. Johnson, executive director of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, said the city's pending budget for 2004-05, authorizing $298 million for general operations, coul…

Critical Mass, which one participant calls "anarchy in the perfect sense," gathered at the steps of City Hall on Friday for its one-year-later ride. Then, with a few excited whoops and toots of their bicycle horns, the 80 riders were off, drawing gawks and taking up as much of Buffalo's side streets and main drags as they cared to.Critical Mass has no organizer, no leader,…

Erie County lawmakers agreed Thursday that people under Probation Department supervision should help pay their probation officers -- as soon as the State Legislature and Gov. George E. Pataki let counties charge their probationers.While the county waits for Albany to make that stream of income a reality, lawmakers on June 10 are expected to approve a second Probation Depar…

Students break for summer in a few weeks, the grass is reaching ever upward, and a needy City Hall wants a thrifty caretaker for its 180 parks and playgrounds.Enter Erie County, whose Legislature will consider another experiment in municipal cooperation -- whether to let county workers tend the 1,800 acres of city parks.In championing the contract, County Executive Joel A.…

The event that spun James A. Waite back toward the priesthood occurred while he basked in a Southern California sunset and sipped a cappuccino. That's when an old friend out for a visit asked, So how's your prayer life?"Suddenly it made me realize that my life in California was kind of shallow," Waite said on the eve of his ordination Saturday, recalling the sun, the sand …