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Tom Precious


A strange, and to some uncomfortable, feeling has gripped the State Capitol this year: optimism.Gone for the most part are the usual, nasty partisan battles that foretell the advent of springtime in Albany. Gov. Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, the Capitol's usually reliable sparring partners, appear to have a truce under way. Meanwhile, Senate Majo…

Bucking some of their party leaders, three Democratic Assembly members, including a Buffalo lawmaker, on Tuesday endorsed Lt. Gov. Ross in her expected Democratic gubernatorial bid.Assemblyman Sam Hoyt said Lt. Gov. Ross represents the best chance the Democrats have of unseating Gov. Pataki in the fall.Joining Hoyt in backing Lt. Gov. Ross, who last year switched parties a…

Three industrial parks in Western New York will receive state aid to help them qualify as potential computer chip manufacturing sites, Gov. Pataki announced this morning.The sites, two in Erie County and one in Niagara County, were among 13 across the state where the Pataki administration hopes to lure the expanding semiconductor industry.Each location will receive $50,000…

Political leaders at the Capitol have agreed to spend $4 million on several Western New York projects, from cleaning up park shorelines to purchasing recycling trucks.The money, which statewide will fund nearly $58.75 million for 200 projects, comes chiefly from the Environmental Bond Act approved by voters in 1996.Among the Western New York projects is $1.3 million for re…

Three lawyers hired by Attorney General Dennis Vacco got their jobs in part on recommendations from individuals later indicted on criminal charges, court papers show.In one case, a downstate housing developer who lobbied for at least one lawyer was himself a year later indicted after the attorney general's office presented a case on embezzlement charges.The hiring of the l…

With the state Public Service Commission approving a dramatic drop in the utility bills of upstate manufacturers, it will be creating thousands of new jobs over the coming years.Or it won't be.And which scenario one believes depends on which side one is on in the long-standing debate over the rate proposal for Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.'s upstate customers, which the PSC a…

Officials from the Buffalo Public Schools came to the Capitol with the goal of persuading state leaders to unleash $84 million to help the district renovate buildings and hire new teachers.But they had to stand in a long and expensive line.In a day of lobbying for more education aid, Buffalo was joined by school leaders from New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers -…

After more than two years of mostly closed-doors negotiations, the state Public Service Commission this morning approved a rate restructuring plan for Niagara Mohawk Corp.Under threat of bankruptcy by the upstate utility giant, the three-member panel backed the company's plan to lower residential and most commercial customer bills by 3.2 percent over the next five years.Bu…

At least 80 percent of the lawyers hired by Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco to represent the State of New York had some sort of political party ties that helped them get their jobs, according to court papers made public Thursday.Moreover, in dozens of cases the newly hired lawyers later received lukewarm or negative comments on job performance evaluations.Beyond concerns …

Ongoing negotiations involving three upstate manufacturers, including a major Buffalo employer, with their independent power producers forced state regulators Wednesday to again delay approval of a new electric rate plan affecting 500,000 Niagara Mohawk customers in Western New York.But when it does revisit the issue Tuesday, the Public Service Commission probably will alt…

With the state seemingly awash in money, Mayor Masiello traveled here Tuesday to try to get a bigger piece of the pie for Buffalo.But state budget talks are not even under way in earnest yet, and Masiello came away with no promises."The governor and Legislature have done a great job in getting the state's finances in order. Our plea now is to share some of those resources …

Some 16,000 Western New Yorkers let their voices be heard at the Capitol Monday with a simple message: Give us back our money.Erie County Clerk David J. Swarts, along with some members of the Erie County delegation, presented a petition to Gov. Pataki's office with 16,000 signatures from people who want the state to restore the vehicle-registration refund program.Under New…

The next time you cut someone off on the Kensington Expressway or get mad and start tail-gating that Honda in front of you, a word of caution: It all may be caught on film.The New York State Police sometime this spring will begin videotaping roads in the Buffalo area to combat a growing number of accidents by drivers engaged in "road rage."The cameras will be installed in …

A top aide to Attorney General Dennis Vacco misrepresented a previous job he held with the Erie County district attorney's office, claiming he'd been a lawyer years before even passing the bar examination, court documents released Friday show.The papers also raised questions about whether it was permissible for William M. Flynn, the first deputy state attorney general, to …

Ignoring pleas from some consumer groups, the state Public Service Commission stands poised to give Niagara Mohawk's residential customers a much smaller rate cut than big industrial users in the coming years.Though a final decision on a comprehensive restructuring of the Syracuse-based utility was delayed Wednesday, the three members of the commission clearly indicated th…