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Phil Fairbanks

I cover federal courts and criminal justice issues and occasionally veer off into the world of refugees, human traffickers and streets gangs. As a product of the Watergate era, I value a newspaper's role as the community watchdog.


Gov. Cuomo has proposed an additional $250,000 in state funding for the Horizons Waterfront Commission.Secretary of State Gail Shaffer, during a visit to Buffalo Thursday, said the money will be added to the $250,000 that was in last year's budget but never used by the commission.The funds will be used to hire an executive director and any other staff needed by Horizo…

The pending sale of a small piece of vacant land along the Buffalo River has prompted counter-proposals from the city and a local community group that wants to preserve the riverfront for public use.Conrail, owner of the two-acre site, had reached a tentative sales agreement with the Bison City Rod and Gun Club when both the city and the Friends of the Buffalo River i…

Some of downtown's bigger property owners have failed to pay their 1988 pedestrian mall tax, according to the mall manager.Buffalo Place Inc. today released a list of 22 delinquent property owners, including the Ansonia Centre, 716 Main St., which owes $12,680, and the Guaranty Building, 30 Church St., which owes $9,783.In addition, the list includes the Hens & Kelly …

The Common Council is seek ing another opinion on down town's aging Memorial Auditori um.Faced with an initial price tag of $38.3 million, Council Presi dent George K. Arthur has named a task force to look at the recom mended changes to the 49-year-old Aud and what they may cost.Arthur said he expects the task force to come back with sugges tions on how the renovation…

The city should build an underground parking ramp at Washington and Swan streets to alleviate a downtown parking shortage, a new City Hall report released today says.Given the task of evaluating short-term downtown parking needs, a Common Council task force has concluded that, except for an area near Pilot Field, the supply of parking downtown is adequate at the momen…

Sounding like a candidate for re-election, Mayor Griffin used his State of the City address Wednesday to explain how Buffalo has turned from "the butt of jokes . . . to a city that has come back from a nine-count."Griffin, in a speech to the Building Owners and Managers Association, outlined a series of policies, programs and projects that he believes have spurred the…

When the Tralfamadore Cafe reopens next month, it will be with a heavy dose of government aid.A full property tax break by the city and county is just one element in a financing plan designed to put the Tralf and its landlord, Theater Place, on firm financial footing.The Tralf is expected to reopen in mid-February, nearly 16 months after it first closed. A formal anno…

After more than 70 years in business, J. Burnham's Inc. closed its doors for good Friday, leaving more than 100 people out of work.Store executives told employees late Friday afternoon of their decision to close all four Burnham's outlets and attributed the closing to the increased competition in the local appliance and electronics marketplace."We were told they could…

After more than 70 years in business, J. Burnham's Inc. closed its doors for good Friday, leaving more than 100 people out of work.Store executives told employees late Friday afternoon of their decision to close all four Burnham's outlets and attributed the closing to the increased competition in the local appliance and electronics marketplace."We were told they could…

A Buffalo businessman has submitted a revised plan for a shopping center at the former Sattler's site on Broadway, and even some critics consider the plan more viable.The project still includes a supermarket, most likely a Super Duper -- the major stumbling block when developer Carl P. Paladino unveiled the plan two years ago. But it also includes a McCrory's Variety …

Despite a yearlong campaign by local development officials, Brooks Brothers has shelved plans for a new upscale clothing store downtown.Whether the Madison Avenue retailer is considering a site other than downtown remains uncertain.An official at Benchmark Development Corp., the firm redeveloping the downtown Sibley's building, said the chain decided against downtown …

Using an empty negotiating table to demonstrate its frustration, a downtown business group today called on government and transportation officials to end their "public relations war games" and deal effectively with mass transit cuts.The Theater District Association, in a strongly worded statement to be released late today, accused the city, county, state and Niagara F…

The Griffin administration has won the right to acquire a prime piece of downtown property, but the owner and a Common Council member are challenging the action.Clement Chen III, owner of the Buffalo Hilton, has filed court papers asking the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court for permission to delay the city's condemnation of land at Court and Pearl streets.The…

On Waterfront CommissionMayor Griffin has named a bank president, a City Hall development official and a local longshoremen's union official to the Horizons Waterfront Commission, leaving only two positions on the planning board unfilled.Griffin named Charles M. Mitschow, regional president of Marine Midland Bank; Rosanne Frandina, the city's director of development, …

Overshadowed by the neighboring downtown business district, the Ellicott Mall has stood vacant for nearly a decade, the subject of on-again, off-again plans for revitalization.But City Hall is again eyeing the reuse of Ellicott in what could become the largest private takeover of public housing in Buffalo's history.Private developers from New York, Baltimore and Buffa…