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A Buffalo-area company is among 19 firms across the state that have agreed to pay fines and stop creating fake online reviews for businesses, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Monday. Utilities International Inc. of Amherst, doing business as Main Street Host, will pay a $43,000 fine. The companies entered into assurances of discontinuance following a y…

It’s the pit stop – reimagined.Rest stops and service areas along the Thruway are being renamed “Texting Zones” to encourage drivers to pull over safely before they start tapping away on their smartphones.Blue traffic signs with the message “It can wait” are being installed along the Thruway and state highways will direct drivers to rest stops and service areas newly desig…

ALBANY – If the state succeeds in expanding casino operations across the state, then expect tens of thousands of new problem gamblers and a fraction of the money needed to address their needs, an anti-gambling group warns in a new report.The Buffalo-based Coalition Against Gambling in New York, in a white paper released today, says the state’s gambling treatment plan to ha…

Politics

ALBANY – The 2016 presidential hopefuls have been busy of late.On the Republican side, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has addressed GOP leaders with his theories of retaking the White House.Floridians Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush are jockeying to help a Republican win the Virginia governor’s race. And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has rallied with conservatives meeting …

ALBANY – At a time when entrepreneurs and start-up companies are having a hard time raising funds for their business ideas, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the state’s giant pension fund is looking to invest $400 million in New York firms.“It’s a tough economy out there. This kind of program may be another option for you,” DiNapoli said of the state and local govern…

State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy is calling on Albany to release the findings of its study of potential removal of the Skyway and traffic alternatives to crossing the Buffalo River.In a letter to State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, the Buffalo Democrat asked for an update on the state “plausibility review” following new plans to transfer outer harbor land to two …

ALBANY – Pro-gambling interests have privately discussed spending up to $20 million on an advertising campaign to urge voters to pass the state’s greatest-ever expansion of casinos in a November referendum.But some of the nation’s top casino companies and real estate developers looking to build gambling halls in New York State have a growing sense that they might have to o…

ALBANY – Three days before the National Football League OK’d the new Ralph Wilson Stadium lease deal last March, a hiccup suddenly developed.It was one of many obstacles negotiators for the team, Erie County and the state encountered over the final month of discussions earlier this year, according to emails and other documents The Buffalo News obtained through a Freedom of…

ALBANY – Three days before the National Football League OK’d the new Ralph Wilson Stadium lease deal last March, a hiccup suddenly developed.It was one of many obstacles negotiators for the team, Erie County and the state encountered over the final month of discussions earlier this year, according to emails and other documents The Buffalo News obtained through a Freedom of…

Nonprofit organizations interested in taking part in New York State’s restarted Operation SNUG anti-gang and anti-neighborhood violence program have until Oct. 16 to file for funding with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, according to State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo. Some $2 million is available for SNUG – guns spelled backwards – projects statewide, Kenne…

ALBANY – New York’s failure to impose excise taxes on Indian reservation cigarette sales does not relax the financial obligation of the nation’s largest tobacco company under a landmark 1998 settlement by the cigarette industry and 46 states, a three-judge arbitration panel ruled Wednesday.The decision means tobacco companies, which alleged they were put at a competitive d…

The upper crust of local-government employees tends to wear uniforms and carry badges, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative-leaning think tank that crunched public payrolls for cities, counties, towns and villages in New York.Sixteen police officers, all working downstate, dominated the list of New York’s 20 best-paid local employees in 2012-13.…

Business

ILION – Residents in this village of 8,000 or so along the Mohawk River usually don’t have much interest in news coming out of Nashville.But an item published Aug. 20 on the business page of The Tennessean sure caught their attention: Remington Arms, far and away the biggest employer in this town, has been touring possible new facility sites in the Nashville area.“The stor…

Twelve candidates for Buffalo-based state and local judgeships have been rated by the Bar Association of Erie County.The ratings are based on questionnaires each candidate was asked to complete, personal interviews with each candidate and interviews with lawyers and judges who have had interaction with the candidates, according to Bonnie O’Brian, an association spokeswoman…