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Union members crowded Common Council chambers Tuesday and applauded when city lawmakers went on record favoring project labor agreements for public projects of more than $1 million.

The measure was sponsored by Council Member at Large Charley Fisher III, who noted that the new Erie County courthouse is being built under such an agreement, known as a PLA. .

Council President James W. Pitts said the adoption of Fisher's resolution reflects the policy the Council prefers, but he noted that it does not bind the administration.

On another matter, Pitts warned that giving a developer $385,000 in preparatory work on a city-owned building sets a risky precedent.

Carl Paladino, a prominent real estate developer and contributor to many political campaigns, has agreed to remodel the L.L. Berger block on Main Street into 29 apartments and two floors of commercial space. He will buy it for $1.

"This is the sweetheart deal of sweetheart deals," said Pitts, who noted that Paladino already owns vacant property on Main Street.

A Paladino corporation owns the former Courtyard Mall, a block away from the Berger building.

Ellicott Council Member Barbara Miller Williams asked if a nonprofit agency could have a similar deal to acquire and remodel a city-owned building in the 800 block of Main Street.

Pitts said the Buffalo Urban Renewal Authority is owner of city properties with a value of more than $100 million and the city is setting a precedent for deals other will want.

The Council also approved the following mayoral appointments:

Public Collections Board of Appeals -- Gerald E. Kelly, 559 Bird Ave.

Board of Heating Examiners -- Uly Hankerson, 102 Alma St.; John Thomas Price, 175 Chapin Parkway; and Robert H. Moffett Sr., 776 Abbott Road (a reappointment).

Home Improvement Advisory Board -- Rose Marie Zizzo, 181 Newfield Ave. (reappointment).

Examining Board of Plumbers -- Samuel J. Ricchiazzi Sr., 214 W. Ferry St.

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