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The Assembly did no favors to parents, taxpayers or students last week when it overwhelmingly voted to undermine the system of teacher evaluations without first coming up with some other way to do the crucial job. According to 131 members of the legislative chamber – only one voted against – New Yorkers don’t need to assess the work of public employees performing one of…

Editorials

As the old saying goes, it’s who you know. Stephanie W. Cowart seems to know enough influential people for a get-out-of-jail free card. Many others without those connections will have to cross their fingers and hope for some measure of mercy. Cowart just needed friends and admirers to come to her defense. In one of the more unusual – at least, we hope – court stories…

Editorials

City of Buffalo residents had to know that taxes would eventually go up. It’s never fun but – with an important asterisk – it’s time. Mayor Byron W. Brown recently released his proposed 2018-19 budget. It recommends increasing residential property taxes by 3.4 percent and commercial property taxes by 5.5 percent. All in all, not too bad, especially given Brown’s record …

Was anyone shocked that the new chairman of the Erie County Water Authority is a political boss? There surely was no cause for astonishment, since the authority is set up to be a kind of human resources slush fund for the parties. The new leader is Jerome Schad, who also happens to be the Democratic Party chairman in Amherst. And so it continues at the Water Authority, …

Editorials

University at Buffalo officials seemed pleasantly surprised recently, as an effort to raise $650 million has so far gone well. It goes to show what concentrated effort and reaching out to private donors and alumni can do. Those who support the university and its mission – which ought to account for everyone in Western New York – should be pleased, as well. UB needs a st…

Editorials

As former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver goes to trial again on corruption charges, the public would do well to take note of the proceedings and judge for themselves whether the law is up to reining in the political corruption for which Albany is justly renowned. It doesn’t look good. Silver was convicted in 2015 for actions that anyone blessed with common sense wou…

Editorials

Kathy Hochul has made clear that she intends to campaign for re-election as lieutenant governor. That’s good because it’s where she belongs and where Western New York needs her. But Democrats, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have tried to steer her into a campaign against Rep. Chris Collins. That’s not in Western New York’s interest. This region of New York, which inc…

Editorials

The Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls opens Friday and when it does will take its place among the nation’s historical sites commemorating the journey of slaves who fled to freedom in Canada. Significantly, it will be the only such museum on the international border. The center tells the story about a terrible time in American history when humans held…

It’s not just priests. It’s also teachers, Scout leaders, Little League coaches and more. Pedophiles know their prey: who the most vulnerable are; where to find them; how to approach them and, critically, how to silence them. Too often, they move from place to place, finding new targets while the public is left in an ignorance that, in some instances, has been delibe…

Editorials

The community has lost one of its great leaders. Frank B. Mesiah, who served most prominently as president of the Buffalo Branch NAACP for 20 years before stepping down in 2016, died Friday at age 89. Countless community members, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can thank Mr. Mesiah for fighting for change. His advocacy began well before h…

Toronto Police Constable Ken Lam responded with astounding calm last week after a clearly mentally disturbed suspect used a rental van to plow into pedestrians, killing 10 and injuring 14. His calm and deliberate response was no accident. It was the result of training that police departments in Western New York and across the country should be looking to copy. The su…

Editorials

This was predictable. When the Buffalo School Board approved a costly new teachers contract on the hope that the state and city would rush to the district’s rescue, it invited trouble. Trouble accepted the invitation. Because of the contract, Buffalo schools are confronted with an $8.5 million budget deficit for the coming school year and even higher shortfalls in co…

Editorials

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s campaign is taking the primary challenge from activist/actress Cynthia Nixon very seriously, as well it should. That’s partly because Nixon is plainly smart, well informed and passionate. But it’s also because Americans seem to have fallen for the idea that a celebrity outsider is the answer to making government work better. It’s a theory with a l…

It was an amazing and reassuring week as law enforcement agencies from North Tonawanda to California and Oklahoma put to bed murder cases that had stumped investigators for up to 42 years. With their determined, unflagging commitments, police in those areas made good on their obligation to seek justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. All those arrested, it sh…

Editorials

Dear Business Owner: Thank you for opening your company in Erie County. We’re glad you’re here, but that fact is, we don’t really trust you. Let’s have a look at your books. Cheers, The Erie County Industrial Development Agency That’s not a letter that went out from the IDA last week, but it captures the spirit of the unwarranted intrusiveness that is about to …